Gregory Molnar, PhD
Greg Peterson, M.B.A.
Kelly Ryberg, M.A., CCRP
Krista Sands, Ph.D.
Mo Chen, Ph.D.
Erin Larson, Ph.D.
Dr. Carey’s neuromodulation interests are in applying noninvasive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to people with stroke to improve the excitability of surviving motor neurons and thereby improve their recovery of hand movement.
I am a clinical neurologist specializing in movement disorders and a research physiologist specializing in control of voluntary movement. My long term goal is to combine the two roles fruitfully. I study pathophysiology of the extrapyramidal motor system with a particular focus on basal ganglia and Parkinson's disease and on deep brain stimulation. My research is with human subjects and I collaborate extensively with bioengineers, neurosurgeons, and neuropsychologists.
We are investigating image-guided transcranial application of focused ultrasound (tFUS) to neuromodulation. We have developed a unique paradigm for tFUS utilizing our dual-mode ultrasound array (DMUA) prototypes. DMUAs are capable of subtherapeutic or therapeutic of tFUS while providing real-time monitoring and localization of its interactions with brain tissue. Our DMUA prototypes have been shown to detect and localize both mechanical and thermal tFUS-tissue interactions with brain tissues in a rat model in vivo.
Dr. Engel's lab studies neuroplasticity in the human visual system. We use environmental manipulations, including augmented reality, to try to modulate function of the visual brain.
Research interests in cortical plasticity and recovery from neurologic insult in both adult and pediatric populations. Her research encompasses the use of different forms of non-invasive brain stimulation (transcranial magnetic stimulation and transcranial Direct Current stimulation), in combination with behavioral training, for improved motor function. Current Teaching Responsibilities include Research, Pediatric Rehabilitation, and Professional Behaviors in Academia.
My current research focuses on the development and integration of 7T MRI and high-field neuroimaging data into deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgical navigation in particular and brain surgery in general. We are developing new structural/anatomical imaging which are combined with post processing image analysis schemes for the creation of a 3-dimensional anatomical model of the brain. This 3D model created by the 7T images allows us to literally ‘see’ the individual shape, size and orientation of the brain target area for DBS therapy.
My group is primarily interested in developing and refining neural interface technologies to improve the quality of life for people with movement disorders. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is one such technology, which over the past twenty years has helped numerous patients with Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, and essential tremor reclaim control over their motor function. The therapy involves placing small electrodes in regions of the brain that exhibit pathological activity, which contributes to the movement disorder, and then stimulating those regions with continuous pulses of electricity. My lab focuses on understanding how the brain responds and adapts to such stimulation-based therapies from a combination of computational and experimental perspectives. The knowledge gained from these studies in turn provides us with a framework to develop, evaluate, and translate new approaches for improving patient outcome.
Dr. Kimberley is a clinical research scientist with expertise in neuroimaging and neuromodulation in patients with neurologic disorders, particularly focal dystonia and stroke. These non-invasive techniques can help us understand the physiology of a disorder as well as be used as an adjunct to rehabilitation to improve patient’s function. Current work is determining who is likely to respond positively to the neuromodulation therapies.
I am the head of a laboratory with a research focus on sensorimotor dysfunction in neurological diseases. We are actively engaged in developing new behavioral treatment options that can supplement or augment existing therapies. Currently we investigate how neuromodulation affects haptic perception in Parkinson's disease and how it changes voice quality for patients with a dystonic voice disorder called spasmodic dysphonia
Neuronal networks, diversity, and specificity of function are important to both physiological processes and neurological disorders, including epilepsy. My laboratory seeks to improve our understanding of how cells interact within a network, how networks interact with each other, and the physiological roles of neuronal populations. In this regard, key questions remain in epilepsy research, including what are the principal networks, conditions, and cell types involved in initiating, sustaining, propagating, terminating, and potentially suppressing, seizures. By improving our understanding of these, we improve the prospects of someday reaching the goal of no seizures, no side effects, for all epilepsy patients. My lab uses rodent models of neurological disorders, including temporal lobe epilepsy, and techniques including electrophysiology, optogenetics, immunocytochemistry, transgenic animals, and behavioral experiments to address these fundamental questions.
Vipin Kumar is currently William Norris Professor and Head of the Computer Science and Engineering Department at the University of Minnesota. Kumar's current research interests include data mining, high-performance computing, and their applications in Neuroscience, Climate/Ecosystems and Biomedical domains. In the context of human neuroscience, the focus is on functional connectivity and its dynamics in healthy, disease, and post-treatment conditions. Functional connectivity analysis techniques developed in his group are highly suited for assessing the effectiveness of neuromodulation in treating mental disorders.
Dr. Legon’s laboratory researches methods of non-surgical brain neuromodulation in humans including focused ultrasound, transcranial electric current stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). His laboratory uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG) as well as computational models to better understand how these methods of non-surgical neuromodulation affect whole brain networks and specific neuronal circuits during a variety of sensory, motor and cognitive tasks. It is the goal of his research to develop and improve tools for the modulation of human brain circuit activity to support functional brain mapping efforts and to advance diagnostics and therapies in neuroscience.
My laboratory examines cognitive control, working memory and executive functioning and decision-making. We are using neuroimaging to decode brain regions involved in these processes, and transcranial stimulation to examine and promote plasticity in these processes. This work extends into psychopathology, such as understanding how brain stimulation can promote cognitive remediation in people with schizophrenia or predicting decisions related to addiction risk.
The goal of my research is to utilize novel DBS paradigms based on the generation of rotating fields by amplitude and frequency modulated pulses, for efficient low energy modulation of thalamic – cortical pathways. The general objective is to optimize DBS pulse shapes to generate excitation of selective neuronal populations. The work on animal models is critical for the translation of more efficient and safer DBS strategies to humans. Development of novel efficient schemes which allow for flexible and selective excitability of cell’s and axonal populations is critical. The detection of network level activity leaded to a breakthrough development of resting state functional MRI (rsfMRI) methodologies. Our preliminary studies demonstrate that strikingly different functional connectivity outcomes can be robustly measured by fMRI in rest and activated conditions upon different DBS paradigms, thus substantiating the rationale for this project.
Dr. Greg Molnar has 20 years of experience as a medical device innovator and expertise in neuromodulation research. Dr. Molnar is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology at the University of Minnesota (UMN) and provides leadership to the clinical and preclinical research across the Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Research Program. Greg is a Principal Investigator in the newly established UMN NIH Udall Center of Excellence for Parkinson's Disease and Co-Investigator on several other NIH and Industry grants. Dr. Molnar trained as a clinical neuroscientist at the University of Toronto, where his research focused on the mechanism of action of DBS and neuromodulation to treat chronic pain and movement disorders. He also used several non-invasive neuromodulation techniques.
In the Center for Applied and Translational Sensory Science (CATSS) lab, we are working on the development and refinement of sensory aids for sensory loss. Most of Dr. Nelson’s work is focused on auditory perception and device evaluation. Specifically, we believe that auditory sensory aids (hearing aids and cochlear implants) have progressed to the point where speech intelligibility is conveyed quite successfully, at least for understanding in quiet environments. We believe the next stage is improving the sound quality and ease of listening for users of these sensory aids. Improving these abilities would ensure that the central auditory system has acclimated to the new inputs, and is processing them as natural acoustic information. Visual and vestibular implants are in earlier stages of development, but show promise to improve sensory input to the brain to improve quality of life for millions of Americans.
I am interested in the neural mechanisms associated with the processing of information that leads to the production of movements. For this purpose, we combine psychophysical and neurophysiological approaches.The current projects concern (1) how the brain deals with uncertainty during motor planning; (2) the decoding of brain signals for brain-machine interface applications.
Dr. Park will use his background in biology, medicine, and electrical engineering to work with other university departments, such as neurology and medical bioengineering, to create new devices that increase therapeutic options for patients with brain conditions. His research interests include: brain structure, neuromodulation/deep brain stimulation, and medical device innovation.
My main research objective is to use theory, neurophysiology, and computational modeling to understand how the brain drives behavior. My lab combines multi-electrode neural ensemble recordings from awake, behaving animals with complex computational analysis techniques that enable measurement of neural dynamics at very fast time scales (e.g. msec). Furthering the understanding of the neural mechanisms that underlie decision-making allows us to modulate those decision-making processes, behaviorally as well as neurally.
Brain disorders and mental illness represent a tremendous social and economic burden, with few effective treatments. The goal of our research is to identify the causes of brain conditions, and develop interventions to restore healthy function using synaptic plasticity and neuromodulation. We study the striatum, and important brain region for both simple and complex movements and cognitive functions. We examine the function of neural circuits formed by striatal synapses that connect specific sources and targets. Our multidisciplinary approach includes quantitative analysis of gene expression; genetic and molecular manipulations of neural circuits; measurement of synaptic function and plasticity using electrophysiology; and optogenetic stimulation of circuits in brain slices and behaving animals. Our current research focuses on autism spectrum disorders and drug addiction - two brain conditions that affect overlapping elements of striatal circuitry.
I came late to neuromodulation, having been trained as a neuro-oncologist with research interests in quantitative neuroimaging and computational anatomy. With the advent of deep brain stimulation (DBS) for the treatment of movement disorders in the 1990's I recognized an opportunity to transfer my computer skills and computational interests to programming the implanted pulse generators used for DBS. My clinical and research interests in DBS focus on the poorly-understood high-dimensional space created by the multiple parameters — active contacts, applied voltage, pulse width, constant current, and stimulation frequency — that are routinely selected to modulate DBS in individual patients.
We study the therapeutic effect and efficacy of vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) therapy in experimental in-vivo animal models, aiming to assess the effects of VNS therapy on the functional and electrophysiological properties of the heart. We continuously record in-vivo ECG and blood pressure to characterize the effect of VNS on heart rate, blood pressure and arrythmias. We also perform ex-vivo optical mapping experiments in the isolated whole heart that allow us to study complex spatio-temporal organization of electrical activity encountered in the heart during normal and abnormal rhythms, and investigate the electrophysiological properties induced by VNS in both healthy and diseased hearts.
As a founding member of the neuromodulation team when I arrived at the University of Minnesota in 1996 I am playing a crucial role in managing the medical aspects related to Parkinson's disease as well as partaking in the Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgical program consensus meetings that help select appropriate individuals for DBS surgery.
Dr. Ugurbil is the director of the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) where he leads a multi-investigator and multi-disciplinary research effort focused on imaging brain anatomy, function, and connectivity with magnetic resonance (MR) techniques, particularly at ultrahigh (7 Tesla and above) magnetic fields. These techniques are increasingly important in evaluating numerous aspects of neuromodulation, such as defining circuits involved, targets for neuromodulation, consequences of neuromodulation, etc.
Dr. Vitek directs a large interdisciplinary neuromodulation research program primarily centered on understanding the pathophysiology of movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease and dystonia as well as the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effect of deep brain stimulation. Dr. Vitek serves as the principal investigator for both pre-clinical laboratory studies using animal models and clinical studies on human subjects/patients. Much of his work focuses on the ultimate translation of basic laboratory research discoveries into clinical treatment options for affected patients in order to reduce symptoms, minimize side effects and enhance function and quality of life. Dr. Vitek forms key collaborations with other experts in neurology as well as other disciplines such as neurosurgery, neuroscience, biomedical science, and radiology in addition to the medical industry to expedite and enhance new discoveries and their meaningful translation from “bench to bedside.
Zhi Yang is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Biomedical
Engineering at the University of Minnesota. He is the PI of the
NeuroElectronics Lab, working on new stimulation, recording, and
signal processing device that can enable high channel counts and
closed-loop neuromodulation in the brain and in peripheral/autonomic
Neuromodulation techniques including TMS, high definition tDCS, and ultrasound modulation.
Mechanisms of neuromodulation and closed loop controlled neuromodulation systems.
TMS/EEG/fMRI and tDCS/EEG/fMRI multimodal approaches. Applications to stroke, epilepsy
and other disorders, as well as cognitive neuroscience.
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Mentor: Alena Talkachova, PhD
Project Title: Evaluating the efficacy of vagus nerve stimulation to treat hypertension and hypertension induced heart disease
Traditionally, neuromodulation focused on treating the brain; however recently it has expanded towards treating diseases associated with sympatho-vagal imbalance. This research investigates a novel application of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) to treat hypertension by restoring autonomic balance.
Department: Rehabilitation Medicine
Mentor: Manda Keller-Ross, Rehabilitation Medicine
Industry Partner: Boston Scientific
Project Title: Effect of Spinal Cord Stimulation on Lowering Blood Pressure during Exercise in Adults with Hypertension
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. High blood pressure affects a billion adults and is a risk factor for heart disease. Blood pressure is controlled only in half of these adults via medications and lifestyle changes. Epidural spinal cord stimulation is used clinically to relieve pain and, because of how it works, has high potential to lower blood pressure, which would reduce the risk of heart disease and improve quality of life for adults with high blood pressure.
Department: Genetics, Cell Biology & Development
Mentor: Daniel Schmidt, PhD
Project Title: Engineering optogenetic reagents for precise modulation of endogenous ion channels
We develop optogenetic tools that allow us to study how cell-type specific changes in specific ion channels alter higher brain functions. Understanding these processes is critical for identifying points of intervention for new kinds of neuromodulation therapies
Department: Rehabilitation Medicine
Mentor: Bernadette Gillick, PhD
Project Title: Effects of transcranial direct current stimulation and bimanual training on motor learning and motor cortex connectivity in children with cerebral palsy
Dr. Nemanich’s combined non-invasive brain stimulation and rehabilitation intervention research has the promise to improve lifetime movement function and quality of life for children with cerebral palsy.
Mentor: Karen Mesce, PhD
Project Title: An Investigation into the Cellular Mechanisms Underlying Ultrasonic Neuromodulation
Ms. Newhoff’s research will improve the efficacy and understanding of how ultrasound affects neuronal activity, thereby increasing the therapeutic use of ultrasonic neuromodulation to treat neurological disorders including epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and chronic pain non-invasively
Mentor: Patrick Rothwell, PhD
Project Title: The neural substrates of impulsivity in opioid addiction; optogenetic imaging and modulation of interneurons in the mouse nucleus accumbens
Dr. Pisansky’s pre-clinical research aims to understand the brain systems and cognitive processes that are impaired by opioid exposure and lead to abuse and addiction
Mentor: Esther Krook-Magnuson, PhD
Project Title: Modulation of cerebellar output channels in temporal lobe epilepsy
This postdoctoral fellowship will lead to improved understanding of the cerebellar contribution to seizure cessation as well as potential targets for treatment of temporal lobe epilepsy.
Mentor: Karen Cullen, MD
Project Title: Cognitive and Neural Correlates of Symptom Reduction in Adolescent Depression Following Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
This project will lead to the development of novel treatments for adolescents with depression who are unresponsive to existing treatments. This project will also determine whether reducing cognitive deficits contributes to symptom reduction
Mentors: Jerrold Vitek, MD, PhD and Greg Molnar, PhD
Project Title: Selective modulation of neuronal activity in the thalamus by “field steering” DBS of the internal globus pallidus for treatment of Parkinson’s disease in a MPTP non-human primate model
This study will provide vital information of the effects of “field steering” DBS on motor signs of PD and clarify the role of discrete pathways from GPi to thalamus in their development. These data will provide the rationale for alternative targets and a new understanding of mechanisms underlying DBS.