Mind over matter
Patients with paralysis use thought to control robotic arm
Photos courtesy of BrainGate2
Nearly 15 years after a stroke left her paralyzed
The power of thought: Hutchinson, who was paralyzed after a stroke in 1996, takes a drink of coffee
using the BrainGate system.
and unable to speak, 59-year-old Cathy Hutchinson
controlled a robotic arm to lift coffee to her mouth and
take a drink by thinking about moving her own arm. The
achievement, reported in the May 17 issue of Nature, is
one of the latest advances in brain-computer interfaces,
restorative neurotechnology and assistive robot
technology made by BrainGate2 – a collaboration among
researchers at the MGH, the Department of Veterans
Affairs, Brown University and the German Aerospace
Center. The group has spent years exploring the potential
of the revolutionary BrainGate system that enabled
Hutchinson, who was first treated by the MGH Stroke
Service in 1996, to take that very special sip.
“Our goal in this research is to develop technology that
will restore independence and mobility for people with
paralysis or limb loss,” says Leigh Hochberg, MD, PhD, an
MGH critical care neurologist and BrainGate2 sponsorinvestigator. “We have much more work to do, but the
encouraging progress is demonstrated not only in data,
but even more so in our research participant’s smile
when she served herself coffee on her own volition for
(Continued on page 2)
Home Base event raises $2M
Photo courtesy oF STEVEN GARDNER, MD
Picture-perfect weather greeted 2,000 runners and walkers –
including 350 active-duty military – as they crossed home plate at Fenway
Park May 20 during the third annual Run-Walk to Home Base.The event
raised more than $2 million in support of the Red Sox Foundation and
MGH Home Base Program, bringing the total raised to approximately
$7 million over three years. The program provides clinical care and
support services to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans affected by combat or
deployment-related stress or traumatic brain injury (TBI) and to their
families. It also offers community education and conducts research to
improve the understanding and treatment of post-traumatic stress and TBI.
Family members, friends, military leaders and elected officials joined
MGH and Red Sox leaders at the finish line to congratulate participants,
including a team of 39 MGHers who raised a total of $93,000.
“Every day, the caregivers and staff of Massachusetts General
ROOTING FOR THE HOME TEAM: The MGH Run-Walk to Home Base team
Hospital and the Home Base Program are honored to provide clinical
care and support to our military service members, veterans and families,” said Peter L. Slavin, MD, MGH president. "You are our neighbors, our coworkers, our friends and a part of the hospital’s 200-year tradition of improving the health of our entire community.”
For the third year, New Balance was the presenting sponsor of the Run-Walk to Home Base. Other sponsors included BAE Electronic Systems, Our
Family for Families First Foundation, Boston Duck Tours, Savings Bank Life Insurance Company of Massachusetts and Randstad. For more information,
visit www.homebaseprogram.org.
Helping MGHers achieve their career goals
The career possibilities in health care are endless, and the field only continues to grow. According to the
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 30,000 jobs in health care were added each month over the past year.
This month at the MGH, the Human Resources Office of Training and Workforce Development hosted two
information-packed events to help employees learn about educational and career opportunities available to them.
Representatives from more than 20 local colleges and universities – including the MGH Institute of Health
Professions, the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and UMass Boston – visited the hospital
May 17 for the eighth annual College Fair in the Bulfinch Tent. Employees circulated among the information tables
evaluating and comparing different undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs.
Marc Aubry, RN, BSN, of the Blood Transfusion Service, said he attended the fair because he is ready for the next
step in his career. “I’ve been a nurse for 10 years now, and I’m itching to go back to school for my master’s degree.
I want to keep learning, and Mass General’s
culture encourages people to do just that.”
The annual Career Information Day May 23
in the Haber Auditorium was another opportunity
for employees to explore career paths.The
event featured 20-minute presentations by
MGHers in fields such as medical imaging,
medical and surgical technologies, medical
coding, and respiratory therapy.
For more information about
resources available through the Office of
Training and Workforce Development, visit
— Mind
(Continued from page 1)
the first time in almost 15 years.”
BrainGate is an investigational medical
device based on a pill-sized, electrodecovered sensor which is implanted in the
brain to record neural activity triggered
by the intention to move a paralyzed limb.
An external computer decodes the neural
activity and translates it into commands
that direct the movement of assistive
devices, such as the robotic arm.
Hutchinson and another BrainGate
study participant, a 66-year-old man,
both paralyzed by brainstem strokes,
took part in the April and October
2011 demonstrations in which they
used BrainGate to directly control two
different robotic arms and perform
reaching and grasping tasks. Their feats
build upon a 2006 breakthrough in
which participants demonstrated that
BrainGate could be used by individuals
with paralysis to operate a cursor on a
computer screen.
TAKING THE NEXT STEP: Aubry, at right, talks with a representative at
the College Fair.
Psychiatry launches Center for Diversity
MEmbers of The Department of Psychiatry celebrated its newly established Center for Diversity during a May 21
ceremony in the O’Keeffe Auditorium.
“Over the past two decades, MGH presidents have called on department chairs and hospital leaders to make diversity an
institutional priority,” said Jerrold F. Rosenbaum, MD, chief of Psychiatry. “The MGH Department of Psychiatry first responded
15 years ago by creating a formal Diversity Committee. Now we are transforming it into the Center for Diversity.”
The center's new director is psychiatrist Ranna I. Parekh, MD, MPH, who chaired the committee for the last five years.
“The center will continue to expand on four areas –
intercultural education, research with an emphasis on
disparities, mental health research, work force
diversity and building partnerships throughout the
hospital and community,” said Parekh.
The inaugural celebration featured remarks
from Lubna Olayan, CEO of the Olayan Financing
Company, a global investment firm with operations in
the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and in the Middle East. In
her speech, Olayan explained the need to go beyond
diversity and embrace equality. “Diversity simply for
the sake of diversity benefits no one,” she said. “I
would argue that we need to move away from a focus
on differences, even if the goal is to celebrate them,
and instead focus on equality – gender equality, racial
equality, religious equality and equality of opportunity Celebrating diversity: From left, Albert Yeung, MD, associate
– and also work to ensure that all people, regardless
director of the Center for Diversity; Parekh; David F. Torchiana, MD, MGPO
chairman and CEO; Olayan; Rosenbaum; Estee Sharon, PsyD, associate
of gender, race or religion, have the opportunity to
director of the Center for Diversity; and Cathy E. Minehan, chair of the
achieve financial independence and to retain their
MGH Board of Trustees
dignity as a human being.” n
BrainGate involves an electrode-covered device
that is implanted in the brain.
“This research depends on close
collaborations, and we’ve benefitted not
only from a great team of physicians,
nurses, engineers and scientists, but also
from the incredible support provided
by MGH’s research administration,”
says Hochberg. “We look forward
to developing a neurally controlled
communication interface for people with
locked-in syndrome and for people with
spinal cord injury and other injuries
and disorders, and we continue to work
toward the dream of reconnecting the
brain to the limb.” n
One MGHer’s trash
is another’s treasure
From clipboards to printer toner,
MGHers saved an estimated $16,500 worth of
office supplies during the annual Office Supply
Swap and Recycle Event May 16 in the Bulfinch
Tent. The event, now in its third year, provides
departments with an opportunity to trade new
and unused items, helping reduce waste and save
costs across the hospital.
Team effort: Teixeira, at left, drops off supplies to members of the
Alex Teixeira, a project coordinator for
Office Supply Swap and Recycle Event team.
Patient Care Services Clinical Support Services,
dropped off a cart full of supplies, including reams of paper and labels. “We went into our storage room and
came up with a bunch of stuff that hadn’t been used and might as well go to someone else who could use it,”
said Teixeira. “It’s a great way to save money for the hospital.”
Seeking out desktop organizers, Amy Mikkola and Andyna Vernet visited on behalf of the Center for
Comparative Medicine Clinical Pathology Laboratory and left with their hands full of needed supplies. “We’re
definitely coming back next year,” said Mikkola.
While the Office Supply Swap and Recycle Event accepts mostly small items, a new website known as the
“MGH Online Swap Shop” was recently launched to allow office and department managers to recycle large
items like furniture. To request access, email Alys Myers at [email protected] ■
Global Health
awards first
research grant
Community health workers
are essential for providing much needed
care in resource-limited communities
worldwide; however, inadequate training,
support and supervision often hampers
their ability to save lives.The MGH Center
for Global Health recently awarded its
first translational research grant – in the
amount of $100,000 – to the team behind
CommCare, a phone-based software
with multimedia features for patient data
collection, individual patient management,
2012 Research Scholars announced
The second group of MGH Research Scholars – recipients of unrestricted five-year grants to support
innovative investigations – was announced at the hospital’s Research Advisory Council (RAC) annual
meeting on May 11. The eight recipients were selected from among 96 applications by a committee led
by Nobel Laureate Jack Szostak, PhD, of the Department of Molecular Biology, and Bruce Walker, MD,
director of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard.
The 2012 MGH Research Scholars are:
• Galit Alter, PhD, Division of Infectious Diseases
and the Ragon Institute;
• Brian Bacskai, PhD, Department of Neurology;
• Nicholas Dyson, PhD, MGH Cancer Center;
• Nir Hacohen, PhD, Center for Immunology and
Inflammatory Diseases;
• Eng Lo, PhD, MGH Neuroscience Center;
• Raul Mostoslavsky, PhD, MGH Cancer Center;
• Anders Näär, PhD, MGH Cancer Center; and
• Gary Tearney, MD, PhD, Wellman Center for
Photomedicine and the Department of Pathology.
The Research Scholars Program grant was
Forward thinkers: From left, MGH supporter Steve Gorlin; John
launched last year by the Executive Committee
T. Potts Jr., MD, director of Research and physician-in-chief emeritus;
on Research and the RAC through a $10 million
Hacohen; Alter; J. Keith Joung, MD, PhD, a 2011 Research Scholar;
challenge grant from an anonymous donor. The
and Szostak
program is designed to give forward-thinking
MGH investigators the flexibility to pursue research into unexpected areas. Funds raised by the MGH
Development Office allowed an expansion from last year’s group of five recipients.
“Today, when biomedical research is on the threshold of unparalleled advances, the need for philanthropic
support is greater than ever,” said Samuel O. Thier, MD, former president of the MGH and Partners HealthCare,
at the RAC meeting. “There has never been a better time to invest in biomedical research.”
For more information about the MGH Research Scholars Program, visit www.massgeneral.org/
Photo courtesy of dimagi
treatment decision support and patient
education.This innovative technology will
help empower community health workers
to improve maternal, newborn and child
“The MGH Center for Global Health
seeks to combat some of the world’s most
critical health crises through strategic
partnerships, education, support and
innovation,” says David Bangsberg, MD,
MPH, center director. “Translational
research grants offer us the opportunity
and flexibility to support individuals and
groups who have the potential to impact
health delivery for some of the world’s
most vulnerable populations.”
CommCare is led by Scott Lee, MPA,
MPhil, an MD-PhD candidate at Harvard
Medical School and Harvard Business
School, and Neal Lesh, PhD, MPH, the chief
strategy officer at Dimagi, Inc., a software
consulting group located in Boston.The
project will be evaluated in India with
Catholic Relief Services and in Kenya with
the Ugunja Community Resource Center.
For more information about the grant, visit
MGH Hotline schedule change
MGH Hotline will not publish June 1
due to the Memorial Day holiday. The
regular publication schedule will resume
June 8.
ACLS courses offered
The Advanced Cardiac Life Support
(ACLS) provider course is designed
to offer caregivers the knowledge
and skills needed to evaluate and
manage the first 10 minutes of
an adult ventricular fibrillation/
ventricular tachycardia arrest. The
MGH Department of Emergency
Medicine is offering two-day ACLS
provider courses June 14 from
10:30 am to 5 pm in the Potts
Conference Room and June 15
from 8 am to 12:30 pm in the Thier
Conference Room. A recertification
course will be held June 11 from
Submit news tips
and story ideas
to MGH Hotline
assistant editor
Colleen Marshall
[email protected]
Public Affairs Office
50 Staniford Street, Suite 830
Boston, MA 02114
MGH Hotline is published weekly
by the MGH Public Affairs Office.
Photos by MGH Photography
unless otherwise noted.
MGH Hotline is printed
on recycled paper.
Find MGH Hotline on the web at
www.massgeneral.org/news/hotline or
by scanning the QR code above.
Wellness Program for Women
“Taking Care of Ourselves: A
Wellness Program for Women”
will begin May 29 and run for four
consecutive Tuesdays from noon to
1 pm in the Yawkey Center, Room
10-640. The program will be led by
Leslee Kagan, MS, FNP, director of
Women’s Health at the BensonHenry Institute for Mind Body
Medicine. For more information,
call 617-643-6067 or email
[email protected]
Heart Center education class
The MGH Heart Center will host
“Heart Rhythm, Devices and Remote
Monitoring Equipment: What it all
Means” June 6 from 10:30 to 11:30
am in the Yawkey Center, Room
4-820. For more information, call
Clinical Research Programs
The MGH Clinical Research Program
is offering the following seminars:
“ClinicalTrials.gov: Does Your Study
Need Results Reporting?” June 6
from 2:30 to 3:30 pm in the Simches
Center, Room 3.120; “Sponsoring
and Managing Multi-Center Clinical
Trials: An Introduction for Principal
Investigators and Study Staff” June 11
from 9 am to noon and 1 to 3 pm in
the Simches Center, Room 3.110; and
“Proteomics Nanocourse” June 12
from 12:30 to 4:30 pm in the Simches
Center, Room 3.110. Register at
iPad drawing
MGHers who enroll in Patient
Gateway through June 7 could
win one of two Apple iPad 2s or
gift cards to The General Store or
Coffee Central. Patient Gateway
provides patients with a secure
and convenient way to access their
health information or reach their
doctor’s office online. To learn
more about Patient Gateway, visit
www.massgeneral.org/PGE. For more
information on the drawing, email
[email protected]
Summer Safety Health Fair
The 15th annual Summer Safety
Health Fair will be held June 16
from noon to 3 pm at the MGH
Chelsea HealthCare Center,
151 Everett Ave. The fun and
educational event is geared
toward children ages 4 to 16 and
features contests, safety tips, live
entertainment, bicycle raffles and
Run of Hope
The annual Four Seasons Run of
Hope – which features a 50-yard fun
run, 2K walk and 5K run – will take
place June 9 along the Charles River
Esplanade. The Four Seasons Hotel
Boston and David Ortiz Children’s
Fund have co-sponsored the race
for three years and raised $1 million
for pediatric cancer care and
research at MassGeneral Hospital
for Children and the MGH Cancer
Center. The event also includes
a pancake breakfast prepared by
Four Seasons chefs, family activities,
prize giveaways and special guest
appearances, including Boston Red
Sox slugger David Ortiz. WCVB-TV's
“Chronicle” host Shayna Seymour
will serve as emcee and present
medals to the race winners and
vacation prizes to the top fundraisers.
For more information, visit https://
David A. Rosman, MD, MBA,
medical director of Mass General
Imaging Worcester, was elected vice
speaker of the House of Delegates
for the Massachusetts Medical
Society during its annual meeting
May 17 in Boston. The House of
Delegates is the legislative and policymaking body of the organization,
a professional association that
represents nearly 24,000 physicians,
residents, and medical students
throughout the state.
Nineteen MGHers who served aboard the USNS Comfort with Project HOPE
(Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) after 2005's Hurricane Katrina
on the Gulf Coast, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the 2011 tsunami in Japan
boarded the Navy hospital ship May 19 for a reunion. The Comfort was docked in
Boston for repairs before sailing to its home berth in Baltimore.
Code Silver training video
All MGH staff are encouraged to view a new Code Silver training
video that outlines potential scenarios and recommendations in the
event of an active shooter on campus. Studies have shown that people
trained in these procedures can help minimize injury, death and
psychological trauma. The 16-minute video was created by members
of Police, Security and Outside Services and is available through
HealthStream. To access it, click on Start > Partners Applications >
Utilities > HealthStream > Login > Catalog > MGH Police and Security >
MGH Code Silver training. For more information, call 617-724-7694 or
email [email protected]
Photo courtesy of Joseph Watts, sealift command or chief engineer USNS Comfort
Emily Lemiska
2 to 7 pm in the Founders Building,
Room 130. For payment and other
details, visit www.massgeneral.org/