October 29, 2008

Michael Merzenich, brain and hearing pioneer, to speak at Case Western Reserve University

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The Department of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University has announced that Michael Merzenich, one of the world's premier researchers on brain development, will be the featured speaker at the Allen and Constance Ford Distinguished Lectureship Series from 4:30-5:30 p.m., Tuesday, November 4, at the Wolstein Auditorium. The program, "A revolution in neuro-therapeutics: Brain plasticity-based strategies targeting neurological and psychiatric illness," is free and open to the public.

Merzenich led the research team that developed the first commercial cochlear implant to restore hearing for the severely deaf and has more recently developed several software-based therapies for language disabled children and aged populations.

"Dr. Merzenich is perhaps the most recognizable figure in brain plasticity and how one develops competence through experience and learning," said Dominique M. Durand, Ph.D., chair of the lecture series and Elmer Lindseth Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve. "It is through this applied learning that Dr. Merzenich has been able to work with not only the hearing-impaired, but also autistic children and others with cognitive learning disabilities."

"Through the use of our mind, we are able to train, shape and transition how our mind will work, how we will respond and how all of that becomes a part of us. In essence, our cognitive experiences become directly reflective of who we are," said Merzenich. "As we understand how the brain responds under a variety of circumstances, how we can more fully utilize our brain capacity, we begin to better understand how to help those with learning challenges and develop therapies that will enable us to overcome cognitive challenges."

Merzenich was recently elected to the Institute of Medicine and has received awards and prizes including the Ipsen Prize, Z├╝lch Prize of the Max Planck Institute, Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award and Purkinje Medal. A founder of many companies such as Scientific Learning and Posit Science, he holds more than 50 patents for his work, and has published over 200 articles.

The Allen and Constance Ford Distinguished Lectureship Series as part of the Ford Visiting Professorship Program was established in 2004 by Allen and Constance Ford, alumni and longtime benefactors of Case Western Reserve University. The semi-annual series provides Case Western researchers and clinical providers with access to some of the world's foremost leaders in a variety of scientific disciplines.

The Ford Visiting Professor Program at Case has enabled BME to bring to campus—to students, faculty and university community—scientists and business leaders on the cutting edge of biomedical engineering and related sciences. This important program provides funding to seek out and bring to campus innovation leaders in the area of biomedical engineering and related fields.

For more information or to register online for the free lecture series, visit http://bme.case.edu/ford/index.html or call Maureen Siegal at 368-4063.

For more information contact Laura M. Massie, 216.368.4442.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, October 29, 2008 10:56 AM | News Topics: Case School of Engineering, Community Outreach, Events, HeadlinesMain, School of Medicine, news

Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.