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Science in Medicine New Investigator Lecture with Azadeh Yazdan, PhD

December 7, 2023 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

“Engineering cortical plasticity in primate brain”

Azadeh Yazdan, PhD
Washington Research Foundation Innovation Associate Professor of Neuroengineering
Departments of Bioengineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering

Thursday, December 7 at 1 pm
Foege South Auditorium and Zoom Webinar



The brain shows marked plasticity across a variety of learning and memory tasks as well as during recovery after injury. Many have proposed to leverage this innate plasticity using brain stimulation to treat neural disorders. Implementing such treatments requires advanced engineering tools and a thorough understanding of how stimulation-induced plasticity drives changes in network dynamics and connectivity at a large scale and across multiple brain areas. In this talk, I will present my lab’s efforts to investigate targeted stimulation of primate cortex to drive cortical plasticity towards functional recovery. We have developed large-scale interfaces consisting of state-of-the-art electrophysiology and optogenetics to simultaneously record and manipulate activity from about 5 cmof cortex in awake behaving macaques. Using this interface, for the first time, we have shown the feasibility of inducing targeted changes in sensorimotor networks using optogenetics. Furthermore, we have incorporated the capability of producing ischemic lesions in the same interface enabling us to stimulate the cortex around the site of injury and monitor functional recovery via changes in blood flow, neurophysiology, and behavior. Currently we are using these technologies towards developing therapeutic interventions for neurological disorders such as stroke.


Azadeh Yazdan-Shahmorad joined University of Washington fall of 2017 as the Washington Research Foundation Innovation Assistant Professor of Neuroengineering in the departments of bioengineering and electrical engineering.  She has developed new tools and techniques for implementing optogenetics in non-human primates (NHPs) and rats, and has used these tools to induce and study targeted plasticity in sensorimotor connections in NHPs. Her long-term goal is to use neural technologies to develop stimulation-based therapies to help restore function and mobility in people with neurological disorders such as stroke. Dr. Yazdan is the recipient of the 2014 IEEE Brain Grand Challenges Young Investigator Award, and the 2018 Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Engineering Research Career Development Award and the 2022 American Heart Association Career Development Award. Her research in targeted sensorimotor plasticity was selected as a Hot Topic of 2016 by the Society for Neuroscience. She is also currently a Weill Neurohub Investigator, a program aimed to foster cross-campus, interdisciplinary teams of researchers to explore, create, and test bold new concepts and technologies for treating neurological and psychiatric diseases. Dr. Yazdan has recently received an Excellence in Mentorship Award from the University of Washington Bioengineering Department as well as the Junior Faculty Award from the University of Washington College of Engineering.


December 7, 2023
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Event Category:


Foege S060 (Genome Sciences Auditorium
3720 15th Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98195 United States
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