The impact of a transformational gift from the McCamish Foundation is starting to take shape at the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering.
Garrett Stanley will be the founding director of the new McCamish Parkinson’s Disease Innovation Program led by the Coulter Department to create impact-amplifying partnerships across disparate disciplines, and to advance innovative ideas that will form the basis of future treatment and cure of Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders.
“The fact that Parkinson’s disease is so complex, affects people in different ways, and changes as the disease progresses, means that we need a comprehensive set of diverse approaches and tools that directly confront these complexities,” said Stanley, Carol Ann and David D. Flanagan Professor in the Department. “This ranges from using sensors to precisely measure movement, to technologies for interacting with the underlying brain circuits, to data analytics to capture things that are hidden in the wealth of data being collected, and beyond.”
Neurological disorders like Parkinson’s are complex diseases of neural circuits that impact virtually every aspect of a person’s life, from moving to sensing to cognition, and ultimately render even the most fundamental aspects of daily life a significant challenge. The cause of Parkinson’s remains unknown, to say nothing of curing the disease.
Stanley said understanding, treating, and ultimately finding a cure for such diseases requires a comprehensive, coordinated, and technology-driven effort at the intersection of fundamental neuroscience, neuroengineering and neurotechnology, data science, and clinical translation — an approach that goes well beyond traditional avenues of scientific research.
To accomplish such lofty ambitions, the McCamish Parkinson’s program will support “Blue Sky” multi-investigator, early stage research; research translation to commercialization; and the cultivation of a collaborative network with Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Georgia to position Georgia as a leader in Parkinson’s research.
“The Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering is uniquely positioned to catalyze this exciting, new interdisciplinary research effort,” Stanley said, “and we are grateful for the significant opportunity the McCamish Foundation has provided.”
Stanley is a leading expert in the control of the complex brain circuits that enable us to sense and move through the world. He has led multiple efforts focused on integrating neuroscience, neuroengineering, and neurotechnology and supported by the National Institutes of Health BRAIN Initiative. Over the past decade, Stanley has been a key driver in building interdisciplinary research in neuroscience and neurotechnology across Georgia Tech and Emory and is co-director of the Georgia Tech and Emory Neural Engineering Centers.