Paul Marasco, PhD, has received the PECASE, along with another 104 outstanding young scientists, during a White House ceremony on May 5, 2016. Dr. Marasco is a principal investigator in the Advanced Platform Technology (APT) Center at the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The VA’s Research and Development Service nominated Dr. Marasco to represent VA. Only a handful of rising stars from across the country receive this honor.
The PECASE Awards are intended to recognize some of the finest scientists and engineers who, while early in their research careers, show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge during the twenty-first century. The PECASE Award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers.
Dr. Marasco’s lab uses neural-machine-interfaces to provide touch and movement sensation to prosthetic limbs so that individuals with amputation feel like the devices are a part of their body. They think about moving their hands and the prosthetic hands move. When the prosthetic hands move they feel like it is their own hand moving. When they touch things their prosthesis the sensation feels like it is coming from their own fingers. This helps the individuals integrate their prosthesis into their body image and interact better with the devices so they become more helpful to the amputee.
Dr. Marasco leads a number of multi-institution and international projects funded across the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Defense Advance Research Projects Administration (DARPA), the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), and the VA APT Center’s Innovation Incentive. In addition to investigating how to use perception and cognition to make prosthetics feel, Dr. Marasco and his teams are also working to develop new validated functional tests for advanced prosthetic systems to measure the tangible benefit of improved sensation on the use of prosthetic devices and help communicate the outcomes to clinicians and payers. They are providing joint movement sensations to amputees without neural-machine-interfaces so that they can move and walk better, and also developing advanced composite approaches to make the part of the prosthetic device that attaches to the limbs of the amputee more comfortable.
In addition to his work with the Cleveland VA’s APT Center, Dr. Marasco is affiliated with the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute, and Case Western Reserve University.
"In the 11 year history of the APT Center, Dr. Marasco is now the third investigator to receive this prestigious award," says Ronald Triolo, PhD, APT Center Executive Director. "Since Dr. Marasco joined us in 2009, his work has directly impacted the health and wellness of amputee Veterans. Recently he used his amputee research experience to expand beyond sensation into advanced materials application for amputee care," said Triolo.