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Two biomedical engineering alumni and one graduate student named Paul and Daisy Soros fellows

April 22, 2024

Alumni Shubhayu Bhattacharyay and Min Jae Kim along with graduate student Michael E. Xie have been awarded the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans. One of the most competitive scholarships in the United States, the Soros Fellowship honors the contributions of immigrants and children of immigrants to the United States. This year, 30 fellows were chosen from over 2,300 applicants. Fellows are awarded up to $90,000 in financial support and are chosen for their potential to make significant contributions to their academic field.

Shubhayu Bhattacharyay, Engr ’20

Shubhayu Bhattacharyay was born in Kolkata, India, and spent his early childhood in Thailand and Vietnam before settling in the South Bay of Los Angeles. At Johns Hopkins University, Bhattacharyay double majored in biomedical engineering and applied mathematics and statistics with a minor in Spanish. He was supported by the Milken Scholars Program and graduated with full departmental and Tau Beta Pi honors. As an undergraduate, Bhattacharyay founded Auditus Technologies, a company inventing individualizable, accessible hearing devices for adults living with dementia.

Bhattacharyay started to consider a medical career in the summer after his first year at Hopkins, when he met traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivors participating in a brain-computer interface study. Their stories motivated Bhattacharyay to think of ways his interest in computational neuroscience might contribute towards an improved quality of life after TBI. Mentored by Robert Stevens, director of the Johns Hopkins Division of Informatics, Integration, and Innovation and an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine, Bhattacharyay invented and published results from the first computational bedside system to sense and classify motor function in TBI patients in the intensive care unit.

In 2020, Bhattacharyay received a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to pursue a PhD in clinical neurosciences at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of professors Ari Ercole and David Menon. For his thesis, Bhattacharyay developed artificial intelligence methods which improve the detail of information provided for prognostic counseling and suggest individually optimized treatment plans during the ICU management of TBI. His work has generated publications in leading digital health and neurotrauma journals, open access software packages, and invited talks at international conferences. During his graduate studies, Bhattacharyay volunteered at Headway Cambridge and Peterborough, a charity-run rehabilitation center for acquired brain injury survivors, where he helped start an evidence-based program for building psychological resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bhattacharyay is currently pursuing an MD at Harvard Medical School with aspirations of becoming a physician-engineer in neurocritical or neurosurgical care. At Harvard, he is researching sources of bias in medical AI to protect patient safety and equity in the clinical deployment of decision support systems for TBI care. Bhattacharyay’s mission is to enhance the precision and global accessibility of TBI care with big data.

Min Jae Kim, Engr ’22

Min Jae immigrated from Korea to Fairfax, Virginia, when he was 14. He completed his undergraduate education at Johns Hopkins University in biomedical engineering and neuroscience.

As a college student, Kim became interested in studying underlying brain circuit dynamics and how selectively intervening in this circuitry through neuromodulatory therapies can improve clinical outcomes in movement disorders and epilepsy. He worked closely with Kelly Mills, director of the Movement Disorders Division and an associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins, to identify neural circuitry associated with cognitive impairment in patients with Parkinson’s disease after deep brain stimulation. Additionally, he collaborated with Johns Hopkins neurologist Joon-Yi Kang and neurosurgeon William Stanley Anderson to investigate radiographic markers and circuits to enhance seizure freedom rates for epilepsy patients undergoing minimally invasive epilepsy surgery. From this work, Kim has held a patent as a lead inventor and was named a Barry Goldwater Scholar in 2021.

After completing his undergraduate degree, Kim pursued additional training in understanding neural circuitry in movement disorders and neuropsychiatric disorders with Andreas Horn at Network Stimulation Laboratory and Harvard Medical School before beginning his MD/PhD training at the University of Pennsylvania. Throughout his training, Kim’s goal has been to study circuit-level pathophysiology in neurological disorders and translate his research findings to revolutionize the clinical landscape of neuromodulation. He is currently investigating novel methods to optimize neuromodulatory therapies across numerous neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders at Penn Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia alongside multidisciplinary research and clinical faculty members, including professors Casey Halpern, Kathryn Davis, Benjamin Kennedy, Han-Chiao Isaac Chen, and Iahn Cajigas.

Kim has published more than 18 papers in many reputable journals such as Biological Psychiatry, Epilepsia, Neurosurgery, and Brain Stimulation. His research works have been recognized by both national and international organizations such as the American Epilepsy Society, International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society, and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. As a future neurosurgeon-scientist, he aims to develop next-generation neuromodulatory therapeutics to repair neurophysiological and network dysfunctions in neurological disorders.

Michael E. Xie

Michael E. Xie was born in New Jersey to immigrants from China, who came to the United States to pursue educational opportunities. As a child, Xie spent time living with his extended family in Jiangxi and Zhejiang provinces. Xie graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and physics and concurrent master’s degree in statistics. As an undergraduate, he conducted research with Adam Cohen and developed an interest in neuroscience. In the lab, Xie was captivated by the modern ability to record detailed electrical signals from many individual neurons simultaneously, and he collaborated with Liam Paninski’s group at Columbia University to develop new statistical tools that enable accurate interpretation of such recordings. His research resulted in a first-author publication in Cell Reports as well as co-authored publications in Nature and Cell. His undergraduate thesis also won a Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize from Harvard.

Currently, Xie is pursuing an MD/PhD in the Medical Scientist Training Program at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Department of Biomedical Engineering and anticipates earning his degree in 2028. His PhD research, co-advised by Karel Svoboda and Adam Charles, uses novel neural recording techniques to examine the fundamental—but unanswered—question of what computations the individual neurons that make up the living brain can perform. With these insights, Xie hopes to build improved computational models of the brain that can help us understand how cognitive function may deteriorate with neuropsychiatric or neurodegenerative disease. Xie also leads a neurosurgery research project in the lab of Risheng Xu, assistant director, of the neurosurgery residency program, building deep learning models to improve patient outcomes.

This article originally appeared on the Hub >>

Associated Faculty: Adam Charles

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