Tyler-Kabara, Okonkwo Participate at White House Frontiers Conference

Pittsburgh, October 13, 2016 -- David O. Okonkwo, MD, PhD, clinical director of the Brain Trauma Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh, and Elizabeth Tyler-Kabara, MD, PhD, co-director of the university’s Human Neural Prosthetics Program, each participated in the first-of-its-kind White House Frontiers Conference, a national convening of leading scientists and innovators designed to explore the future of scientific innovation, held in Pittsburgh, October 13.

Hosted by the White House, the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, discussions at the conference focused on building U.S. capacity in science, technology, and innovation, and the new technologies, challenges, and goals that will continue to shape the 21st century and beyond.

Dr. Okonkwo participated in a panel discussion that covered Building Science Capacity for the Future of Health (see YouTube video below), while Dr. Tyler-Kabara was involved with an exhibit that showcased how scientists can help spinal cord injured patients regain movement and touch in their arms and hands.

Video of David Okonkwo (right) at panel discussion with (left to right) Margaret Anderson, moderator; Dana Lewis, director, MD Digital Life; James Park, CEO, fitbit; and Freda Lewis-Hall, chief medical officer, Pfizer.

Hundreds of leaders from across academia, industry, government, and civil society, attended the conference to discuss five frontiers of innovation:

  • Personal Frontiers (health care innovation and precision medicine)
  • Local Frontiers (building smart, inclusive communities)
  • National Frontiers (harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence)
  • Global Frontiers (accelerating the clean energy revolution)
  • Interplanetary Frontiers (space exploration)

President Barrack Obama toured the event and addressed the attendees later in the day. In his speech, he emphasized the need and importance of innovative science. He talked about meeting Nathan Copeland, a quadriplegic involved in a robotic arm study that Dr. Tyler-Kabara is involved in. The robotic arm allows Copeland to regain a sense of touch in his hand. Obama fist bumped with Copeland.

"That's what science does," Obama said. "That's what American innovation can do. Imagine the breakthroughs that are around the corner. Imagine what's possible for Nathan if we keep on pushing the boundries."

See related links:

Fayette County robotic arm recipient highlighted in White House Frontiers Conference
Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Obama embraces his inner 'science geek' at Pitt, Carnegie Mellon campuses
Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Researchers, innovators come to Pittsburgh for Frontiers Conference
The Pitt News

Brain implant makes paralyzed man feel a robotic arm
Pulse Headlines

Pitt@The Conference
University of Pittsburgh