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Cherie Kuo

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from?
A: I was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan. Taipei is a beautiful city with lots of fun activities and delicious food.  After obtaining my bachelor’s degree in physical therapy at National Taiwan University, I completed a master of science in neuroscience and then a PhD degree in kinesiology at Columbia University in New York City.  New York is a very unique city in its diversity and multicultural environment.  I had wonderful experiences in both Taipei and New York.  Recently I moved to Calgary to work with Dr. Adam Kirton as a postdoc researcher at the University of Calgary.

Q: What compelled you to pursue stroke research?
A: In my physical therapy training in Taiwan, I started to get interested in neurological disorders during my internship year. Was fascinated by how a stroke can be manifested distinctively in different individuals. I had a great training experience with my supervisors when I interned in pediatrics. That’s the moment when I became keen to study  children with very early brain injury.

Q: What is the focus of your research?
A: My current research focus is to investigate how intervention and/or brain stimulation therapy may improve hand function in hemiparetic children with perinatal stroke, and how these functional changes may be associated with their underlying neurophysiological changes (neuroplasticity). In my previous lab at Columbia University and my current lab in Alberta Children’s Hospital, we utilize transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to study the brain neurophysiology (such as motor maps) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to characterize the primary motor pathway, the corticospinal tract (CST). We hope to find biomarkers of treatment efficacy using these advanced assessments so that we can provide individualized and precision medicine for children with perinatal stroke.

Q: At what stage are you in your research, and what are your current future plans?
A: As a first-year postdoc researcher, I feel very fortunate to work with Dr Kirton and his team.  Our lab has the only pediatric TMS robot thus far in the world. By using the robot, we hope to make motor mapping procedures more efficient and accurate for children. My other interests include investigating predictors of intervention and brain stimulation techniques (such as repetitive TMS or transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)) to enhance hand function in hemiparetic children with perinatal stroke.

Q: How do you and others benefit from being part of the National Trainee Association?
A: The opportunity of being granted the postdoc fellowship from CPSR was very encouraging. This fellowship was the very first grant that Dr. Kirton and I started working on together, so it was a great start for us to get connected.  In the meantime, I look forward to the meetings and workshops held by CPSR that will connect me with other stroke researchers in Canada.  I am enthusiastic to learn more on animal models in adult stroke and hopefully apply them in our population.

Q: What other interests do you have?
A: In my leisure time, I love doing yoga and cooking. In NYC I learned how to make international cuisines from friends and colleagues around the world.  I also love traveling.  Being in research is ideal for me, as we get to go around the world for conferences, meetings, and collaborations.