Henry J.M. Barnett Scholarship Award 2006/2007 - Colicos

Dr. Michael Colicos
University of Calgary
A stroke damages the brain, causing a sudden loss of function to the parts of the body controlled by the damaged regions. Loss of movement and sensation can result, as well as loss of cognitive functions such as speech, reasoning, and memory.
The brain, however, has an amazing ability to repair itself. Following a stroke, the brain can ‘rewire,’ allowing healthy parts of the brain to take over the functions previously controlled by the damaged parts.
Dr. Michael Colicos is investigating ways to enhance this reorganization process, in order to help stroke victims recover their lost abilities faster and more completely.
He has developed a technology in which living neurons are grown on a silicon wafer and can be made to fire by targeting them with a beam of light. When the neuronal networks are stimulated with this device they undergo the same process of learning and memory that occurs in the brain.
By observing and manipulating this process, we will gain a greater understanding of how the brain reorganizes following a stroke. Dr. Colicos will then design and apply treatments to the neural networks to enhance the reorganization process, thereby suggesting therapies that could reduce disability.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation is proud to support Dr. Colicos’ stroke research. He is an assistant professor at the University of Calgary, where his laboratory is part of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute.