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Emerging Innovators Present Far-reaching Research

Published on March 1, 2023 in Cornerstone Blog · Last updated 11 months 1 week ago
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Emerging Innovators
The Emerging Innovators Collaborative Research program recognizes the contributions of non-faculty researchers.

The Emerging Innovators Collaborative Research program, organized by the Office of Academic Training and Outreach Programs (ATOP), recognizes exceptional non-faculty researchers-in-training and research staff nominated by their department chair, division chief, or faculty mentor. Two research scientists and one postdoctoral researcher presented their high-impact research at a session in January. Check out Cornerstone to learn about the November emerging innovators, and stay tuned for more presentations in March and April.

Tiffany Ko, PhD 

Tiffany Ko, PhD

Tiffany Ko, PhD

Research Scientist
Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine – Critical Care Medicine
Nominated by: Wesley Baker, PhD
Presentation Title: Noninvasive Optical Neuromonitoring for Real-time Guidance of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Extracorporeal Life Support

Dr. Ko and her colleagues are evaluating a noninvasive method of neurometabolic optical monitoring for real-time guidance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and extracorporeal life support. The novel monitoring technique uses near-infrared light, which enables continuous, real-time quantification of cerebral hemodynamic and metabolic parameters, including tissue oxygenation, blood volume, blood flow, and metabolism, at the bedside.

“This work is paving the way for translation of noninvasive diagnostics to the bedside, where they will enable providers to rapidly diagnose neurological injury vulnerability and provide targeted interventions that will improve neurological outcomes and long-term quality of life,” Dr. Ko said.

Elizabeth Walshe, PhD

Elizabeth Walshe, PhD

Elizabeth Walshe, PhD

Research Scientist
Department of Pediatrics – General Pediatrics
Nominated by: Flaura Winston, MD, PhD
Presentation Title: The Neuroscience of Driving: Establishing a Convergent Science Program of Research

Dr. Walshe and their team use a convergent science approach to study driving and young driver crash risk. Their work has three areas of focus: 

  • identifying which drivers are more at-risk by studying skill deficits, individual characteristics, and the underlying cognitive and neural mechanism of both
  • determining policy or targeted training interventions that could help mediate the risk
  • establishing driving as an ecologically valid behavioral paradigm that can better probe motor and cognitive functional impairments in atypically developing teens or impaired adults.

“This program of research is exciting because we tackle the serious problem of young driver crashes from many angles, while also establishing driving performance (on a simulator) as an ecologically relevant probe to better understand brain function and development in different populations of teens,” Dr. Walshe said. “We see a future state where teens receive targeted, personalized interventions to improve their driving safety, and simulated driving can be used to screen and help diagnose impairments in clinical populations.”

Amelia Van Pelt, PhD, MPH

Amelia Van Pelt, PhD, MPH

Amelia Van Pelt, PhD, MPH

Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Pediatrics – General Pediatrics
Nominated by: Elizabeth Lowenthal, MD, MSCE
Presentation Title: Preparing for Use of a Computerized Neurocognitive Battery for Children Affected by HIV in Botswana

Dr. Van Pelt and her colleagues adapted a computerized tool that measures cognitive function for use in children and adolescents with HIV in Botswana. For this project, they evaluated if the adapted tool measured the intended areas of the brain and analyzed factors likely to impact implementation of the tool in medical and educational settings in Botswana. Although children with HIV are at increased risk for problems related to cognitive function, screening for the brain is limited in Botswana, where HIV is common among children and adolescents. This research addresses the research-to-practice gap by systematically planning for implementation.

“There is a substantial delay in getting evidence-based interventions into practice,” Dr. Van Pelt said. “For this research, we engaged in pre-implementation inquiry to plan for the future implementation of the PennCNB in Botswana. This work shifted the trajectory of the portfolio of research to think through systematic implementation of the battery. I'm excited to leverage this input to design strategies to integrate this tool in a high-need setting.”