Past Programs

Tuesday, May 13th, 5:15PM

Troutman Sanders LLP, located in the Chrysler Building, 405 Lexington Avenue

Keynote Speaker:

Robert Stern, PhD

Professor of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Anatomy & Neurobiology

Director, Clinical Core, BU Alzheimer’s Disease Center

Boston University School of Medicine

“Brain Games: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and the Long Term Consequences of Repetitive Concussive and Subconcussive Brain Trauma in Athletes”

Description of Talk:

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disease associated with repetitive brain trauma.  Although similar to other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, this tauopathy is distinct both neuropathologically and clinically.  Previously referred to as Punch Drunk of Dementia Pugilistica when it was believed to only be observed in boxers, CTE has now been found in athletes involved in other sports, including American football, ice hockey, rugby, soccer, baseball, and others, as well as in military veterans, women with histories of domestic abuse, and developmentally disabled individuals with “headbanging” behavior.  To date, all cases of neuropathologically confirmed cases of CTE have had a history of repetitive brain trauma (including concussions and asymptomatic subconcussive blows) and the distinct neuropathological findings of CTE have not been found in any individual without brain trauma.  The clinical presentation of CTE includes cognitive impairment (e.g., episodic memory difficulties, executive dysfunction), mood disturbance (e.g., depression, hopelessness, suicidality), behavioral change (e.g., impulsivity, explosivity, rage, aggression), and, in some cases, motor impairment (e.g., dysarthria, ataxia, parkinsonism).  At this time, CTE can only be diagnosed through postmortem neuropathological examination.  However, the diagnosis of CTE during life may be possible in coming years thanks to new research on clinical diagnostic criteria and a variety of potential biomarkers, including blood and cerebrospinal fluid measures, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques (including diffusion tensor imaging, functional MRI), magnetic resonance spectography (MRS), and positron emission tomography (PET) with new radiotracers which selectively bind to tau.  In recent years there has been much media “hype” over CTE suggesting that much more had been known about this relatively understudied disease.  In fact, careful scientific investigation into CTE has only recently begun.  Important issues remain unknown about CTE, including its prevalence and incidence, additional genetic and other risk factors (i.e., above and beyond the necessary variable of repetitive brain trauma), the underlying mechanism and pathogenesis of the disease, and the relationship between CTE and other long-term consequences of brain trauma.  This presentation will provide an overview of the history of CTE and dementia pugilistica, a review and description of neuropathological studies of CTE, and a description of recent research into the clinical manifestations of CTE.  Potential risk factors, including genetic and brain trauma exposure variables, will also be summarized.  Finally, research on potential neuroimaging biomarkers of CTE will be presented.

Robert Stern Short Bio:

Dr. Robert Stern is Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), where he is Director of the Clinical Core of the BU Alzheimer’s Disease Center, one of only 30 centers funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  A major focus of his research involves the long-term effects of repetitive brain trauma in athletes and the military, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).  He recently received a grant from NIH to fund his work on developing methods of detecting and diagnosing CTE during life; this was the first grant for CTE ever funded by NIH (co-funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute on Aging, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development).  Dr. Stern oversees aspects of clinical research at the CTE Center, including the Brain Donation Registry,the LEGEND studyand the DETECT study.

Presenting Company: MC10

MC10 reshapes electronics to make life better. The company takes conventional high-performance electronics, and turns them into body-integrated form factors that stretch, bend and twist seamlessly with our bodies and the natural world. As the Head of the Sports Segment for MC10, Isaiah Kacyvenski is focused on developing innovative solutions that address the issues he experienced throughout his 8 year NFL career, all while helping to make sports safer for all athletes.

We see incremental changes in sports as we gain deeper insights into the human body through science and medicine.  Today, awareness around concussions in contact sports is increasing rapidly.  Recognizing that there was an underreporting issue of head impacts at all levels, Isaiah spearheaded the development of an impact indicator with Reebok called the CHECKLIGHT, a skullcap embedded with MC10 technology to measure the magnitude to the head in real-time.

Isaiah’s presentation will focus on his own concussion history in the NFL, the path that lead him to MC10, and how in directing MC10’s sports business, he is building systems that give athletes the enhanced sensing they need to maximize their on-field performance and minimize their risk of injury.

Isaiah Kacyvenski Short Bio – Director of Sports, MC10

Isaiah Kacyvenski’s diverse background includes playing in the National Football League for 8 years for the Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams and the Oakland Raiders, as well as serving on the Board of Directors of the not-for-profit, Sports Legacy Institute.  Isaiah currently runs the Sports Segment at MC10, a cutting-edge conformal electronics company based in Cambridge, MA, where he is responsible for overseeing the development of wearable electronics to optimize athlete performance. Isaiah holds a Cum Laude Pre-Medicine Bachelor degree from Harvard University and graduated from Harvard Business School’s MBA program in May of 2011.

Presenting Company: Oculogica Inc

Oculogica Inc is a neurodiagnostic startup that wants to change the way brain injury is diagnosed and concussion is defined.  In 97% of normal people, the eyes move together with coordinated movements while watching television.  Brain injury has been known to disrupt coordinated eye movements for more than 3,500 years.  Oculogica uses a novel eye tracking algorithm performed while a subject watches television to quantitate the extent of brain injury.

Dr. Uzma Samadani, a neurosurgeon and cofounder of Oculogica Inc. will present data from research being conducted at Bellevue Hospital using eye tracking to quantitate the extent of and recovery from concussion in trauma patients presenting to the emergency room.  

Dr. Uzma Samadani Bio: MD PhD FACS FAANS

Uzma Samadani is the Chief of Neurosurgery at the New York Harbor Heath Care System where she has been awarded more than $1,000,000 in VA research funding to study brain injury and hemorrhage. She is an Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at New York University School of Medicine and has joint appointments in the Departments of Psychiatry and Physiology & Neuroscience.  She serves on the American Association of Neurological Surgeons/Congress of Neurological Surgeons Executive Committee for Trauma and Critical Care and this year served as the Scientific Chair of the AANS/CNS National Neurotrauma Society Joint Meeting Section on Brain Injury.  Uzma discovered that eye tracking detects mass effect in the brain in 2012 (“mass effect” describes the appearance of a swollen portion of brain on radiographic imaging). She has submitted four provisional and utility patents describing the use of eye tracking for detection and quantitation of neurologic disorders including concussion and other types of non-structural brain injury, and co-founded the company Oculogica Inc. to commercialize these.  Uzma is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Wisconsin Madison where she won the Academic Award for Excellence in science research, as one of the top two undergraduate researchers in the College of Letters and Sciences. She then completed a PhD and MD at the University of Illinois where she was awarded two fellowships including the Charlotte Webster Barnes, Helen T. Barnes and Broda O. Barnes Research Fellowship for Molecular Medicine.  Upon completion of medical school, Uzma undertook internship and neurosurgery residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She served as the 2006 Van Wagenen foundation fellow. The Van Wagenen fellowship is one of the most prestigious in neurosurgery with more than one-third of former fellows subsequently becoming chairs of neurosurgical departments.