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Highlights from AAN: Brainstorm award, Parkinson's and exercise, Ulysses S. Grant's headaches and more

Friday, May 10, 2019
Bedlack 2019

As the 71st annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology draws to a close, we thought we’d review some of the highlights of the Duke Neurology Department’s contributions this year. 

On Monday evening, Rick Bedlack, MD, PhD, won the AAN’s Brainstorm Competition, in which five finalist candidates pitched how they would use technology to improve and expand people’s access to neurological care. Bedlack’s ALS Untangled project beat out proposals that used artificial intelligence and pattern recognition to detect stroke or conduct a neurological eye exam via smartphone, or that offered more empirical EMG ratings than conventional methods.

Bedlack’s ALS Untangled allows patients, clinicians, and activists from around the world to collaborate to empirically investigate alternative treatments for ALS. Participants can suggest and vote on which alternative therapies to investigate next, try these therapies and report on results, and read all studies published investigating these therapies in an open-source journal. Bedlack will use the funds he received from the competition to further expand and improve ALS Untangled; Bedlack eventually hopes to bring the same crowdsourcing techniques to help people with other conditions. Read more about ALS Untangled here.

S Mantri

Sneha Mantri, MD, MHS, meanwhile, was one of the Department’s all-around MVPs. On Saturday she led two sessions. The first, aimed at neurology residents and fellows, focused on how trainees could make the most out of their fellowships. The second, aimed at neurologists of all ages, taught participants how to avoid burnout and promote resilience through narrative writing. Mantri also presented two posters highlighting her ongoing research into the effects of physical activity on Parkinson’s disease. Mantri discusses some of the findings of that research in this video.

In addition, Janice Massey, MD, Aatif Husain, MD, and James Burke, MD, PhD, led sessions on women in neurology, neurophysiologic intraoperative monitoring, and neuroimaging controversies, respectively. And more than 20 other members of the Department presented posters on topics ranging from using a digital research ecosystem to improve care and research for multiple sclerosis to examining the historic root causes and symptoms of the headaches experienced by former president Ulysses S. Grant.

Please join us in 2020 for the 72nd AAN meeting in Toronto. See you there!