Categories Media News

New Tools Map Seizures, Improve Epilepsy Treatment

Two new models could solve a problem that’s long frustrated millions of people with epilepsy and the doctors who treat them: how to find precisely where seizures originate to treat exactly that part of the brain.

By helping surgeons decide if and where to operate, the tools developed by Johns Hopkins University researchers and newly detailed in the journal Brain, could help patients avoid risky and often-ineffective surgeries as well as prolonged hospital stays.

“These are underserved patients,” said Sridevi V. Sarma, associate director of Johns Hopkins Institute of Computational Medicine and head of the Neuromedical Control Systems Lab. “We want surgeries to go well, but we also want to prevent surgeries that may never go well.”

Read more here

Categories Media News

Johns Hopkins, Howard University Partner to Develop Tech for Neuro Disorders

Johns Hopkins University and Howard University are teaming up to develop medical devices to diagnosis, treat, and manage neurological disorders.

Researchers with the new NeuroTech Harbor technology accelerator, supported by the National Institutes of Health, will collaborate with diverse partners worldwide to create equitable and accessible technologies and solutions. The goal is increase participation in the neurotech ecosystem by underserved communities so that the devices created there will be inclusive….

Read more here

Categories Media News

Workshop prepares young scientists, engineers for professional challenges

Less than 8% of engineering faculty members around the country identify as members of underrepresented groups. A workshop held last month on the Homewood campus is on a mission to change that.

Co-hosted by Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering and Columbia University, the third annual Rising Stars in Engineering in Health Workshop aims to help trainees from diverse backgrounds prepare for future academic careers in science and engineering. This year’s event was attended by 20 of the nation’s best junior biomedical researchers, who participated in two days of intensive career-development workshops, networking activities, and panel sessions.

Read more here

Categories Media News

Seizure mapping tools developed by NCSL researchers featured in JHU Hub

Two new models could solve a problem that’s long frustrated millions of people with epilepsy and the doctors who treat them: how to find precisely where seizures originate in the brain.

By helping surgeons decide if and where to operate, the tools developed by researchers in Sri Sarma’s Neuromedical Control Systems Lab could help patients avoid risky and often-ineffective surgeries as well as prolonged hospital stays.

See the full article here: New tools map seizures in the brain, improve epilepsy treatment

Categories Media News

Engineers drive new directions in translational epilepsy research

There is a seismic shift underway in epilepsy research and patient care, and it’s coming from engineering. Two studies published by researchers in Sri Sarma’s Neuromedical Control Systems Lab were mentioned in a recent editorial on engineers in epilepsy in the journal Brain. Read the full commentary in the link below:

Engineers drive new directions in translational epilepsy research.

Categories Media News

Continuing to change the face of STEM: Sridevi Sarma receives second consecutive mentoring grant from L’Oreal

Sridevi Sarma, associate professor of biomedical engineering, associate director of the Institute for Computational Medicine, and 2008 L’Oréal USA For Women In Science (FWIS) Fellow has been awarded a 2018 “Changing the Face of STEM” (CTFS) grant from L’Oreal to support her mentoring efforts.

Sarma is using her second CTFS grant to continue hosting a physics project with the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland. In spring 2018, Sarma and PhD candidate Macauley Breault developed and executed a fun and competitive STEM activity that brought together more than two dozen Girl Scout Cadette troops (ages 10-12) at Johns Hopkins University. The CTFS grant will allow Sarma to repeat this successful project in 2019.

The Girl Scout Roller Coaster Contest challenges participants’ engineering skills as they compete to build roller coasters out of household materials. Led by Sarma and a dozen female PhD candidates in her lab, each troop will learn about the physics of roller coasters, which will then help them to design a model for a chance to win tickets to Six Flags America.

Now in its third year, the CTFS program supports former L’Oréal USA For Women in Science fellows in their efforts to inspire the next generation of girls in STEM. Members of the L’Oréal USA FWIS alumni network were invited to apply for $2,500 grants to help fund new or existing mentoring projects in their communities. The awards will be administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), official partner of the L’Oréal USA For Women in Science program.

“We are committed to inspiring the next generation of women in STEM through our For Women in Science program,” said Lauren Paige, Vice President of Public Affairs & Strategic Initiatives at L’Oréal USA. “Our Changing the Face of STEM grant program builds on this long-time commitment and supports our fellows in their continuous work promoting STEM education in communities across the United States.”

A complete list of 2018 CTFS grant winners and their projects can be found here.

Categories Media News

Sridevi Sarma featured on IEEE Brain podcast

Sridevi Sarma, ICM core faculty member and associate professor of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University, was recently a guest on the IEEE Brain Initiative podcast series, where she discussed her background in electrical engineering and control theory, her current research on mathematical models of neurological diseases, and the importance of encouraging young women to pursue careers in engineering. Read some of the highlights from Sarma’s interview below, or listen to the full IEEE Brain podcast on SoundCloud.

The brain is such a huge subject. What is your area of focus?

I’m an engineer by training—an electrical engineer—but the focus of my research is on neurological disorders. So what we try to do is understand the electrical patterns in specific neural circuits that are affected by disease, like Parkinson’s Disease, epilepsy, dystonia, and so forth. We really try to understand how you go from normal to disease—what actually changes in the brain.

As an electrical engineer, how do you get pulled into neuroscience?

I did my bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD entirely in electrical engineering, and I’m a control theorist by training, so I did mathematics and theory. So how did I get interested in neuroscience? This would lead to, in general, where can electrical engineers play a huge role? As a control theorist, people who train like me go work for Boeing, or Ford, where they’re building controllers to control airplanes and cars and other kinds of electrical and mechanical systems.

For me, the neural circuit is a dynamic system, and what do I want to do? Well I want to control the electrical patterns coming out of this system to make it do something I want it to do. So now I need to model what this neural circuit is, just like an electrical engineer will model the central dynamics of an airplane and then figure out how to control it. I see this whole deep brain stimulation as just an exogenous input that we can design to control this dynamic system. So at the end of the day, my training is perfectly aligned for the idea of controlling brain circuits with electrical stimulation.  That’s just one example of how electrical engineers can play a huge role.

You mentioned Parkinson’s earlier. What are you doing in that area?

If you are a healthy person, there are specific neural circuits in the brain that control your movements, and there are electrical patterns that help us move the way we move, freely and in a coordinated way. What we want to understand is how those change when you have, say, Parkinson’s disease, which is a movement disorder. These people can’t move properly; they have tremors and rigidity. So we really want to understand what has changed in those patterns, and once we understand that, what we try to do is say, “Okay, now if I were to electrically stimulate that region of the brain, how can I change those patterns to make a Parkinson’s patient move more like a healthy patient? This idea of putting electrical stimulation in the brain is known as neurostimulation, or deep brain stimulation, and it’s actually a therapy that’s currently used to treat Parkinson’s disease today.

There is a therapy out there already. So what are you adding to the equation?

So deep brain stimulation, or DBS, has been FDA approved and clinically used for the last several decades. But what’s astonishing is that after all this time, people really don’t know why it works. So they put this electrode in the brain, they turn it on, and it looks like a miracle has happened—the person’s symptoms have really suppressed—but they don’t understand what it did because it’s very hard to measure activity in the brain while you’re stimulating it. So what we do in our lab is try to answer this question by building mathematical models that characterize these circuits that are somewhat realistic, then we put in our artificial electrodes, stimulate our computational brain, if you will, and we try to understand what it’s doing. And now, since we know what a healthy person looks like, we try to see, is the stimulation trying to restore your patterns, or is it doing something different that happens to be therapeutic? So these are the kinds of questions we ask.

Promoting women in science is a big topic at the moment. Can you talk about your own experiences?

For myself, being an electrical engineer and going through my undergrad and graduate years, the number of women just declined the more senior I became. For example, during my undergraduate years I had one female professor in the fifty-plus courses that I took. One female. So I had no role models in terms of professors or even teaching assistants, and there were very few colleagues. Sometimes it can be very discouraging when you don’t see people like you doing the same things, and it might make you question yourself. But say you get past that, which I did. What becomes difficult as a woman in engineering or science going into academia or industry is, obviously, if you want to have a family. You’re worried about the timing of things — now you’re getting into your 30s, now you’re getting into your 40s. Here you are competing with men who don’t have children who can put in all the hours that maybe you can’t because you have children. So I think it’s important to do a couple things for women in science, because I absolutely believe that some of the best scientists and engineers that I’ve encountered are women, is to provide opportunities to deal with some of these issues that are very specific to women. I think it’s important to step back and think very carefully to understand individual circumstances, whether it’s gender-specific or race-specific. We need to be really careful of understanding how to help people in different groups and promote them.

What would you say to young women and girls considering the field?

For young girls who are considering the field, I would show them what I do because I think research is so exciting. It’s what makes me wake up and smile every single day — to see what my students are able to accomplish, what questions we can answer, and results, they just make you feel good. They’re kind of like an antidepressant. And it’s exciting. Being in a biomedical engineering field, you see things that might actually help people, but you’re using mathematics and engineering tools to reach that objective. I think that would appeal a lot to young women and girls today. Being an engineer is not about tinkering with trucks or toys, which is fine, but maybe that’s not what may come to their mind. When I was a young girl, when someone said ‘engineer’ I would think of somebody changing a light bulb. I had no idea what an engineer is, but today, engineers can do so many different things and I think a lot of those things would appeal to young girls. So I would want to show them the kinds of things engineers do to encourage them to pursue it.

Sri, what’s your personal goal?

My personal goal is to see my research translated into the clinic and be used to help patients with any kind of neurological disorder.

Categories Media News

Clinical Neurophysiology features Sarma lab research on cover

Clinical NeurophysiologyResearch from the lab of Dr. Sridevi Sarma, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering and ICM core faculty member, was featured in the February 2015 issue of Clinical Neurophysiology. The paper, entitled “Physiology of functional and effective networks in epilepsy” reviews notions of functional and effective connectivity as applied to the study of seizures in epilepsy. Functional and effective connectivity are notions that come from network science and have been widely applied to fMRI data. Also reviewed are applications to invasive EEG recordings obtained from epilepsy patients undergoing invasive monitoring.

To view the entire article, click here.

Categories Media News

Sri Sarma featured in JHU Gazette story: New early warning system for seizures

Assistant Professor Sridevi Sarma of the Institute for Computational Medicine has been featured in the JHU Gazette for work recently published in Epilepsy & Behavior. The research centers on the creation of a novel framework for seizure onset detection which could be used in the future with brain implants that send electrical impulses to stop Epileptic seizures just as they begin to occur.

“These devices use algorithms—a series of mathematical steps—to figure out when to administer the treatment,” Sarma said. “They’re very good at detecting when a seizure is about to happen, but they also produce lots of false positives, sometimes hundreds in one day. If you introduce electric current to the brain too often, we don’t know what the health impacts might be. Also, too many false alarms can shorten the life of the battery that powers the device, which must be replaced surgically.”

See the full story and see a video detailing the research in Dr. Sarma’s lab on the JHU Gazette website.

The story has also been featured in JHU News Releases.

Categories Media News

Sri Sarma featured in MIT Magazine

Assistant Professor Sridevi Sarma was recently highlighted in MIT’s Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems News Magazine. The story by Katharine Stoel Gammon talks about Dr. Sarma’s work from the time she was a post-doc in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences department at MIT and how research in the framework of control systems combined with her personal connections to Parkinson’s disease to guide the direction of her research.

Click here to read the full story.