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Internationally Renowned Neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis Will Speak at DCCCD STEM Summit - April 2013

photo of Miguel Nicolelis
Noted professor of neurosciences Miguel Nicolelis, M.D., Ph.D., will speak to high-achieving students at DCCCD’s invitation-only STEM Summit.

Contact: Eddie Miranda, emiranda@dcccd.edu, 214-378-1541, or
Anthony Denning, adenning@dcccd.edu, 214-378-1548

For immediate release — March 27, 2013

Editors’ note: Miguel Nicolelis’ presentation and the DCCCD STEM Summit are by-invitation-only events. However, Nicolelis will be available on site for media interviews from 5:30 to 6 p.m. in the auditorium of the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas on Thursday, April 4, prior to his speaking engagement. Reporters who cover or enjoy learning about science and medically related topics are invited to take advantage of this opportunity to talk to the speaker. Please contact Eddie Miranda by phone or email no later than April 3 to confirm attendance. A special announcement about a major gift that supports the DCCCD STEM Institute will be made following Nicolelis’ presentation, which begins at 7 p.m.

(DALLAS) — Imagine living in a world where quadriplegics walk again; where people use their computers, drive their cars and communicate with each other simply by thinking; and where diseases such as Parkinson’s are ended through brain implants.

This is a world that Miguel Nicolelis, M.D., Ph.D., envisions becoming a reality in the foreseeable future through his pioneering research and achievements in developing brain-machine interfaces (BMI) and neuroprosthetics in human patients and nonhuman primates.

Nicolelis, the internationally renowned professor of neurosciences at Duke University’s School of Medicine and the founder of Duke’s Center for Neuroengineering, will speak about this subject and related topics when he addresses high-achieving science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students from the Dallas County Community College District on Thursday, April 4, at 7 p.m.

The DCCCD STEM Institute, which provides financial support, faculty mentoring, and career and internship explorations for excelling STEM students who attend the seven Dallas County Community Colleges, will host its third annual summit — culminating with Nicolelis’ evening presentation — at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas.

The summit is closed to the public. (Only scholars in the DCCCD STEM Institute and invited guests may attend.) Nicolelis will be available for media interviews from 5:30 to 6 p.m. in the auditorium of the museum, located at 6911 Lemmon Ave. in Dallas (on the southeast corner of Love Field Airport).

Nicolelis’ presentation and the DCCCD STEM Summit are sponsored by Hunt Consolidated Inc. and the Frontiers of Flight Museum. The DCCCD Foundation, which launched the STEM Institute in 2009 to address the need to produce more graduates who can work or teach in STEM fields, is hosting the event.

“The fields of neuroscience and neuroengineering recently have accelerated breakthrough discoveries and inventions that will impact how our brains interact with machines in the future, and Dr. Nicolelis is a global leader in this arena,” said Hunter L. Hunt, president and CEO of Hunt Consolidated Energy Inc., who also is stepping in as the new chairman of the DCCCD Foundation's board of directors. “Our 80 scholars in the STEM Institute will have a unique opportunity to hear him talk about his fascinating research and experiences. We are fortunate to have him join us as our keynote speaker.”

Recent advances in neuroprosthetics — which allow humans and other primates to control robotic devices with the simple use of their thoughts — mainly are due to the revolutionary work by Nicolelis and his team of researchers at Duke. In 2003, Nicolelis’ research lab at Duke University gained international attention by demonstrating that monkeys could perform reaching and grasping with robot arms driven by their thoughts. Electrical impulses from the brain were fed into a computer, processed and linked to these robotic arms.

Most recently, his team demonstrated that monkeys’ brains could control unimanual and bimanual movements of realistic avatars (virtual computer images that represented a monkey’s body). The monkeys in the demonstration were able not only to use their thoughts to manipulate the movements of the avatar but also to receive sensations from the avatar arms that were produced by electrical stimulation of the brain.

“Someday in the near future,” Nicolelis commented in an article on DukeHealth.org, “quadriplegic patients will take advantage of this technology not only to move their arms and hands and to walk again but also to sense the texture of objects placed in their hands, or experience the nuances of the terrain on which they stroll with the help of a wearable robotic exoskeleton.”

A native of Brazil and an avid soccer fan, Nicolelis is working with his lab team at Duke and a host of international scientists and researchers to design a brain-controlled exoskeleton for a paralyzed youth who will make the ceremonial kick starting the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Nicolelis received his doctorate in medicine and his doctorate in neurophysiology from the University of Sao Paulo. He is a member of the French and Brazilian Academies of Science.

His award-winning research has been published in Nature, Science and Scientific American; reported in Newsweek, Time and Discover; and covered on national and international television networks. He has authored nearly 200 manuscripts, has edited numerous books and special journal publications, and holds three U.S. patents. Two of his books on multi-electrode recording techniques have become the most cited works in his field.

For more information, contact Eddie Miranda, DCCCD Foundation director of marketing and communications, at (214) 378-1541 or emiranda@dcccd.edu; or Anthony Denning, DCCCD Foundation special projects coordinator, at (214) 378-1548 or adenning@dcccd.edu.




Dallas County Community College District STEM Institute
Fact Sheet

Created in 2009 by the DCCCD Foundation to educate future scientists, engineers and educators in the field, the DCCCD STEM Institute provides high-achieving science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students at the seven colleges of DCCCD with a comprehensive approach to pursuing a STEM-related degree.

DCCCD STEM Institute scholars are selected using a highly-competitive process, and they are required to maintain a 3.0 grade point average in rigorous academic classes to remain in the program. They benefit from a cash stipend; receive mentoring from DCCCD faculty Fellows in STEM fields; explore STEM careers through internships and research opportunities; and network with other STEM students, faculty members and industry professionals throughout North Texas.

The program’s numbers exceed state and national averages for student success and completion. A combined 89 percent of last year’s STEM scholars graduated with an associate degree, transferred to a four-year institution or are still enrolled in a college of DCCCD.

A total of 80 students are participating in the program this academic year (2012-13). The Institute has served 343 students since its inception.

The STEM Citi Faculty Fellows, who provide mentoring to STEM students, are highly regarded instructors in their respective fields; they also are selected using a competitive process. F unding for the STEM Citi Faculty Fellows program was secured in great part through the efforts of Debbie Taylor, a DCCCD Foundation Board member and southwest regional director for community relations at Citi.

STEM scholars are required to attend three mandatory events established by the Institute. The DCCCD STEM Summit on April 4, which includes the keynote presentation by internationally acclaimed neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis, is one of those required events.

More than 6,000 students are enrolled in advanced mathematics and science courses at the seven colleges of DCCCD: Brookhaven, Cedar Valley, Eastfield, El Centro, Mountain View, North Lake and Richland. The STEM Institute selects the “best and brightest” students from these colleges who make a serious commitment to pursue a STEM career or to teach in the field.

The DCCCD STEM Institute is made possible through the generous support of Citi, a U.S. Department of Education congressional appropriation, the Fluor Foundation, the Greater Texas Foundation, the Hillcrest Foundation, Hunt Consolidated, Inc., Margaret McDermott, and Hunter and Stephanie Hunt.

For more information about the DCCCD STEM Scholars and Fellows Institute or to support this program, visit the DCCCD Foundation website at www.foundation.dcccd.edu.

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