Malgorzata (Margo) Straka, PhD

Assistant Investigator, Center for Bioelectronic Medicine, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research

Phone: (516) 562-1453
Email: mstraka@northwell.edu

About the Investigator

Dr. Margo Straka graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota, double-majoring with Bachelor of Science degrees in Physics and Chemistry. In 2013 she received her Doctorate in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Minnesota (advisor: Hubert Lim). Her thesis concentrated on improving stimulation strategies and implantation locations for the Auditory Midbrain Implant by better understanding the central auditory system.

In 2014, Dr. Straka was recruited as a postdoctoral fellow by Dr. Shreesh Mysore to work at John Hopkins University (JHU). At JHU, she worked on unraveling the neural underpinnings of competitive selection in the midbrain. Using iontophoresis in in-vivo neurophysiology experiments, she investigated how the midbrain attention network encodes a signal in the presence of a competitor by probing the interactions between specific nuclei. This interaction is important in bottom-up attention, and may play a role in various conditions with impaired attention such as ADHD and schizophrenia.

In 2016, Dr. Straka accepted a position as a staff scientist at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, where she joined the Center for Bioelectronic Medicine with dual affiliation with the Neural Bypass and Pre-Clinical Device Lab.

Research Focus

The nervous system is a complex, interconnected circuit which carries and processes information about every part of our body. Electric pulses from our nerves become transformed into complex signals in different areas of our brain to define our senses, drive our thoughts, and monitor our vital organs. In diseased or injured states, neural signals are often insufficiently communicated from nerves to the brain, from the brain to the nerves, and/or within different areas of the brain. Neuromodulation devices seek to change aberrant activity or replace missing signals, but in order to be effective, we must first understand how neural signals encode information.

Throughout her career, Dr. Straka has sought to decode neural signals in order to better understand normal brain function and mitigate damage from injuries or diseases. She accomplishes this by using various electrophysiology techniques and computation methods. In the Pre-Clinical Device lab, she investigates neural signals in animal models and tests how these signals change with external stimuli or with an injury over time. In the Neural Bypass lab, Dr. Straka is developing software and hardware components of the system that translates neural signals to functional movement for paralyzed patients.

Education

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Degree: PhD
2013
Field of Study: Biomedical Engineering

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Degree: BS, BS
2008
Field of Study: Physics, Chemistry

Honors and Awards

2015 Hartwell Postdoctoral Fellowship
2015 2nd Place Poster at Greater Baltimore SfN Conference
2014 1st Place Poster at Annual HW-PDA Postdoctoral Poster Competition
2013 1st Place Neuroengineering Poster at 2013 Annual IEM Conference, University of Minnesota
2012 GAPSA Travel Award, University of Minnesota
2008 GAAN Fellowship, University of Minnesota
2007 Edmund G. Franklin Fellowship
2007 Elberth Reuben and Gladys Flora Grant Scholarship
2005–2008 University of Minnesota IT Merit Scholarship
2004–2008 Dean’s List

Publications
  1. M. Straka, R. Hughes, P.T. Lee, H. H. Lim. “Descending and tonotopic projection patterns from the auditory cortex to the inferior colliculus.” Neuroscience J. 2015 Aug 6; 300:325-37.
  2. H. Lim, S. J. Offutt, M. Straka, J. F. Patrick, T. Lenarz. “A new 22-site deep brain stimulation implant for treating hearing disorders.” Brain Stimulation. 2015 v8; 2; 399-400.
  3. M. Straka, M. McMahon, H. H. Lim. “Effects of location and timing of co-activated neurons in the auditory midbrain on cortical activity: Implications for a new central auditory prosthesis.” J Neural Eng. 2014 Aug; 11(4) 046021.
  4. M. Straka, S. J. Schmitz, H. H. Lim. “Response features across the auditory midbrain reveal an organization consistent with a dual lemniscal pathway.” J Neurophysiol 2014 Aug 15; 112:981-98.
  5. M. Straka, D. Schendel, H. H. Lim. “Neural Integration and enhancement from the inferior colliculus up to difference layers of the auditory cortex.” J Neurophysiol. 2013 Aug; 100(4):1009-20.

View more at PubMed