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Brains Behind the Institute

Marion Buckwalter

Marion Buckwalter

Associate professor of neurology and neurological sciences and of neurosurgery

The core of any career in science is a desire to discover and understand things that we never knew about before.

I've always known I wanted to be a scientist, but choosing one direction for my research came more slowly because everything fascinated me. Ultimately, I decided to focus on an area where I thought I would have my best shot of making a difference in the lives of many: improving how patients recover from a stroke.

Strokes are the leading cause of long-term disability. When you think about disability from a stroke, you might think about weakness in an arm or leg. But strokes can also lead to memory loss and impair the ability to think, due to inflammation in the brain following a stroke. I'm working to better understand this process and develop ways to prevent, or try to reverse, patients' cognitive decline after a stroke, and this has me really excited.

I direct a group of researchers at Stanford through the Stanford Stroke Recovery Program, which stemmed from one of the Big Ideas funded through the Stanford Neurosciences Institute. In addition to collaborating on new ways to improve outcomes, we help link engineers and basic science researchers with patients.. For example, we've helped design clinical trials for engineers developing stroke rehabilitation devices, and connected them with stroke survivors who are interested in participating in clinical studies.

As a deputy director of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute, it's important to me that our community embrace a variety of views from people studying different areas. Among other things, I see this role as an opportunity to advocate for other women in science. The more scientists with differing views that we can bounce ideas off and collaborate with, the further we can move toward our goals, and the closer I can get toward the reason I chose this field: improving many people's lives.

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