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Brain and Hearing Pioneer, Michael Merzenich, Ph.D. to Speak at Case Western Reserve University

CLEVELAND, Oct. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The Department of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University announced today that Dr. Michael Merzenich, one of the world's premier researchers on brain development will be the featured speaker at the semi-annual Allen and Constance Ford Distinguished Lectureship Series on November 4, 2008 in Cleveland. The program "A revolution in neuro-therapeutics: Brain plasticity-based strategies targeting neurological and psychiatric illness" is free and open to the public. Merzenich led the research team that developed the first commercial cochlear implant to restore hearing for the severely deaf and has more recently developed several software-based therapies for language disabled children and aged populations.

"Dr. Merzenich is perhaps the most recognizable figure in brain plasticity and how one develops competence through experience and learning," said Dominique M. Durand, Ph.D., Chairman of the lecture series and Elmer Lindseth Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University. "It is through this applied learning that Dr. Merzenich has been able to work with not only the hearing-impaired, but also autistic children and others with cognitive learning disabilities."

"Through the use of our mind, we are able to train, shape and transition how our mind will work, how we will respond and how all of that becomes a part of us. In essence, our cognitive experiences become directly reflective of who we are," said Dr. Merzenich. "As we understand how the brain responds under a variety of circumstances, how we can more fully utilize our brain capacity, we begin to better understand how to help those with learning challenges and develop therapies that will enable us to overcome cognitive challenges."

Dr. Merzenich was recently elected to the Institute of Medicine and has received awards and prizes including the Ipsen Prize, Zulch Prize of the Max Planck Institute, Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award and Purkinje Medal. A founder of many companies such as Scientific Learning and Posit Science, he holds more than 50 patents for his work, and has published over 200 articles.

The Allen and Constance Ford Distinguished Lectureship Series as part of the Ford Visiting Professorship Program was established in 2004 by Allen and Constance Ford, alumni and longtime benefactors of Case Western Reserve University. The semi-annual series provides Case Western researchers and clinical providers with access to some of the world's foremost leaders in a variety of scientific disciplines.

The Ford Visiting Professor Program at Case has enabled BME to bring to campus -- to our students, faculty, and university community -- scientists and business leaders on the cutting edge of biomedical engineering and related sciences. This important program provides funding to seek out and bring to Case innovation leaders in the area of biomedical engineering and related fields.

The lecture is scheduled from 4:30 - 5:30 on November 4, 2008 at the Wolstein Auditorium on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. For more information or to register online for the free lecture series, visit or call Maureen Siegal at 216-368-4063.

About the Case Western Reserve University Department of Biomedical Engineering

The Case Department of Biomedical Engineering is one of the premier programs in the country. Established in 1968 with over 1,600 alumni, the Case BME department was recently ranked 9th for graduate programs and 6th for undergraduate by U.S. News and World Report. The department was built on the premise that engineering principles provide an important basis for innovation and unique solutions to biomedical problems. The proximity to and strong relationships with neighboring world-class medical facilities provides for additional research and clinical opportunities for faculty, researchers and students. For more information, visit

SOURCE Case Western Reserve University Department of BiomedicalEngineering
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