NSF CAREER award for UMN Biomedical Engineering’s Alex Opitz

March 7, 2022 — Assistant Professor Alexander Opitz has been awarded a prestigious NSF CAREER award to optimize brain stimulation therapy so it can better help stroke survivors. 

Advancing transcranial magnetic stimulation

Prof. Opitz’s project will focus on transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a non-invasive brain stimulation method that has a lot of therapeutic potential but varies widely in its effectiveness. 

Specifically, they’ll be developing better ways to customize TMS procedures to each stroke patient's brain. This will be based on:

  • Individual anatomical characterization using structural MRI
  • Individual functional characterization employing EEG
  • Advanced computational modeling

Better ways to help stroke survivors

Prof. Opitz expects research will result in new approaches for closed-loop TMS in individuals with stroke. The hope is that this will lead to better, more precise ways to assess and treat stroke survivors.

The methods developed will be taught to scientists, clinicians, and other professionals via educational materials and workshops. Plus, Prof. Opitz and team also plan to educate local high school students about the technologies using 3D printed brains.