Conducting Research to Help Patients: Cherie Kuo | Teachers College Columbia University

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Conducting Research to Help Patients: Cherie Kuo
(Ph.D. in kinesiology)


Life Before TC:  

Cherie (Hsing-Ching) Kuo, who has received her Ph.D. in kinesiology, is broadly interested in neuroscience, but with an emphasis on research that can directly help patients with disabilities or injuries. As an undergraduate at National Taiwan University, Cherie studied physical therapy and worked as a research assistant on studies of motor function in pre-term infants.

Why TC:

TC, which offered Cherie a scholarship as well as the opportunity to do doctoral research with some of the top people in kinesiology and neuroscience, seemed like a perfect fit.TC Professor of Movement Sciences Andrew Gordon, who along with Burke Medical Research Institute Assistant Professor Kathleen Friel would become Cherie’s mentor, has dramatically improved the outlook for many children with cerebral palsy (CP) through the development of two sophisticated intensive hand therapies.  Professor Gordon also runs summer camps at TC for children with CP where he tests and refines these therapies, while Professor Friel uses brain stimulation and imaging techniques to measure brain changes in children as they improve their motor function.


TC Takeaway:

At TC, Cherie has conducted research that could help make important medical evaluations more widely available and affordable for children with neurologically based movement disorders.


Recent studies suggest that the intensive hand therapies developed by Gordon may work best for children whose brain-hand connections are organized in certain patterns.  However, identifying these patterns currently requires expensive brain scans that often aren’t available in community medical centers or clinics.

In preliminary studies, Cherie has gathered evidence that suggest that assessments of some very simple hand movements may be used in place of scans. These assessments may prove to be just as effective in predicting the outcomes of certain intensive treatments, which would represent a major breakthrough in the delivery of quality health care to children with neurologically-based movement disorders.

What’s Next

This fall, Cherie will begin a research position at the University of Calgary, where she’ll be studying the combined impact of behavioral interventions and brain stimulation. 

“I am really fortunate to have had the supportive mentorship I received at TC,” she says. “I’ll be pursing my own research in the future, but my approaches have been shaped by both Dr. Gordon and Dr. Friel. Thanks to them, I have the opportunity to help bring treatment to many more people.”

Published Monday, Jun 6, 2016