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Ameya Nanivadekar Selected for NIH Outstanding Scholar in Neuroscience Award Program

PITTSBURGH (Mar. 19, 2020) … University of Pittsburgh graduate student Ameya Nanivadekar was selected by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a recipient of the Outstanding Scholar in Neuroscience Award Program. This new offering from the NIH recognizes and supports individuals who are conducting exceptional research and have a great academic potential in their scientific PhD programs.

Nanivadekar is a bioengineering PhD student at the Swanson School of Engineering who works in the Rehab Neural Engineering Labs under the direction of Lee Fisher, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation. His research focuses on electrical stimulation of the spinal cord to deliver a sense of touch in upper and lower limb amputees.

“Nearly 200,000 Americans undergo amputation each year, yet the acceptance rate of prosthetic limbs is less than 40 percent,” explained Nanivadekar. “This low rate is in part due to the lack of sensory feedback - such as the sense of touch - in existing prostheses. My research aims to better understand the response to electrical stimulation and how we can incorporate sensory feedback into modern prostheses.”

Nanivadekar has worked on evaluating the performance of novel electrodes, building computational models to study how stimulation recruits neurons and affects tissue in the spinal cord, and conducting human experiments to study the kinds of sensations that can be produced through electrical stimulation of the spinal cord.

“The ultimate goal of this work is to provide sensory feedback that can improve the functionality of a prosthesis for activities such as maintaining balance while standing or walking or grasping and interacting with objects,” he said.

Nanivadekar was previously an ARCS Scholar, which is a program from the ARCS Foundation that provides unrestricted funding to help the country's brightest graduate and undergraduate students create new knowledge and innovative technologies.

“I'm proud of Ameya's accomplishments working to improve the lives of people with limb amputations,” said Fisher. “He is a truly exceptional student and an instrumental member of our lab. This award is well-deserved."

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Contact: Leah Russell