Helen Bronte-Stewart, PhD
John E Cahill Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences
Accessing and modulating brain circuitry in freely moving human subjects with Parkinson's disease to develop precise, targeted therapies
Abstract: Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a systemic neurological disease manifest as motor, mood, cognitive, and autonomic symptoms, with identified vulnerable and spared neural networks. The selection of vulnerable networks by the disease process has led to the potential for targeted therapy. Translating basic discoveries from animal models to the human disease, however, has been limited by a lack of objective measures of human motor behavior and limited access to the brain circuitry involved in the disease. Recent advances in wearable physiosensors and sensing neurostimulators are now enabling us to study the brain’s effect on PD motor signs, such as tremor, bradykinesia and rigidity, in real time in freely moving human subjects. This research is leading to the identification of plausible biomarkers of different movement abnormalities and more precise, targeted therapy using the first generation of closed loop brain pacemakers.
Bio: Dr. Helen Bronte-Stewart is the John E Cahill Family Professor in the department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences. She is a neurologist, neurophysiologist and movement disorders specialist, who has used her training in mathematics and physics, bioengineering, neurology, movement disorders, and single unit electrophysiology in primates to develop a rigorous translational program in motor control research in human subjects with movement disorders. Dr. Bronte-Stewart is the Director of the Stanford Comprehensive Movement Disorders Center, the Co-Director of the Stanford Balance Center, and the Division Chief of Movement Disorders in the department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences. She directs the Stanford Human Motor Control and Balance Laboratory, where she has developed computerized, quantitative measurements of motor behavior (kinematics), which are being implemented in a wide range of Movement Disorders. Her research investigates the brain’s contribution to abnormal movement in human subjects, using synchronous brain recordings and quantitative kinematics. Dr. Bronte-Stewart’s team was the first in the United States to implant a sensing neurostimulator, from which they can record brain signals directly, and use the patient’s own neural activity to drive the first closed loop neurostimulation experiments in Parkinson’s disease.