What are your main research interest?
My name is Laura Alva, I am a dedicated clinician-scientist with a strong clinical and academic interest in the field of movement disorders. In 2021, I joined the research group “Neurophysiology and Adaptive Neuromodulation” led by PD Dr. med. Gerd Tinkhauser, where we focus on the optimization of deep brain stimulation (DBS) for movement disorders like Parkinson’s Disease.
In essence, I am investigating brain-sensing strategies to improve DBS. What do I mean with that? DBS as we apply it in our current routine is characterized by a constant delivery of electrical stimulation to the brain. The disadvantage is that fixed stimulation does not consider the fluctuating nature of Parkinson’s disease symptoms, leading to periods with suboptimal symptom control and stimulation side effects. These problems can be leveraged by the next generation of brain-sense neurostimulation. Novel devices are capable of recording symptom biomarkers from the brain, allowing to adjust the stimulation in real-time according to fluctuating symptoms.
This technology will be transformative for the field of DBS. To guide the process of clinical implementation, I am characterizing neurophysiological symptom biomarkers for movement disorders and establishing a clinical-neurophysiological interrogation framework (1).
What is your motivation to do research?
I am intrigued about applying neurotechnology and novel neuroscientific-based concepts to optimize our patient’s treatment. I find it very enriching working closely with engineering scientists as well as to learn and apply new computational methods. Beyond that, I really enjoy the exchange with our international network and the joint passion to work towards common goals. Overall, academia expands my clinical perspective as a neurologist and I am glad for the opportunity to improve patient’s care from different angles.
Laura Alva is a Clinician-Scientist at the Movement Disorder Centre at Department of Neurology, Inselspital Bern, University Hospital, University of Bern, Switzerland.
- Clinical neurophysiological interrogation of motor slowing: A critical step towards tuning adaptive deep brain stimulation. Alva, L., Bernasconi, E., Torrecillos, F., Fischer, P., Averna, A., Bange, M., Mostofi, A., Pogosyan, A., Ashkan, K., Muthuraman, M., Groppa, S., Pereira, E. A., Tan, H., & Tinkhauser, G. Clin Neurophysiol. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clinph.2023.04.013