Caitlin Banks, a Ph.D. student in Biomedical Engineering under the mentorship of Dr. Carolynn Patten, was recently awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Predoctoral Fellowship to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research. Her fellowship is co-sponsored by Dr. Carolynn Patten and Dr. Monica Perez.
Caitlin is interested in the recovery of walking after stroke, and is seeking biomarkers that help understand the fundamental nature and behavior of the impaired central nervous system. Her research project focuses on the long-latency reflex, a reflex pathway that is critical for integration of sensorimotor information in the brain and spinal cord. Preliminary research shows that this reflex pathway could be impaired in some individuals with stroke, and those individuals have worse functional outcomes than individuals with an intact long-latency reflex response. Caitlin’s project aims to characterize these reflex responses with the ultimate goal of developing a noninvasive, clinically accessible biomarker for prediction of functional outcome following stroke; thus, improving rehabilitation efficiency and outcomes for the many individuals affected by stroke.