Torrance, Calif., resident Jason Chiang, who received his Johns Hopkins University undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering with a minor in mathematics May 17, has been awarded a grant from the Fulbright Student Program for the 2007-2008 academic year. He is one of 17 Johns Hopkins students and graduates so far this year to receive a Fulbright grant, one of the most prestigious awards in academia.
Chiang, 22, will travel to the University of Veterinary Medicine in Germany to investigate the therapeutic potential of high-frequency electrical stimulation of the central piriform complex in a rodent model of temporal lobe epilepsy. Chiang will induce seizures in rats and then administer brain stimulation on the piriform complex — an area of the brain that forms perceptions based on odors. He will vary stimulation according to charge density, which is directly related to frequency, amplitude, pulse length and shape of the current. Results will be carefully monitored and recorded.
This treatment method — called target- specific deep brain stimulation (DBS) — has been shown to raise seizure threshold in animal models, Chiang said. Many clinical trials are now underway to evaluate the efficacy of stimulation against intractable epilepsy. By the end of his project, Chiang hopes to establish appropriate stimulation parameters for obtaining anticonvulsant effects and to express his findings through statistical analysis.
"It is important to investigate epilepsy," Chiang said. "It affects more than 1 percent, or over 50 million, of the world's population today. Out of this total, 30 percent or about 15 million have been diagnosed to have medically intractable epilepsy, defined as seizures that are unresponsive to currently available pharmacological drugs."
Created in 1946, the Fulbright Program aims to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of people, knowledge and skills. The program awards approximately 1,000 grants annually and currently operates in more than 140 countries. Successful U.S. applicants utilize their grants to undertake self- designed programs in a broad range of disciplines including the social sciences, business, communication, performing arts, physical sciences, engineering and education.
Chiang's parents, Yung-Chin and Anna Chiang, reside in Torrance. For more information on the Fulbright program, go to www.iie.org.
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