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Backing The Brains
The man sails, scuba-dives, windsurfs and hikes. He is also involved in social service. And 9 to 5? Well, he studies brain disorders at Yale University. Meet Dr Hitten Zaveri, born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, student of St Peters School in Panchgani, Maharashtra, and the University of Michigan, where he piled up degrees: a BS and MS in electrical engineering, a BS in computer engineering, an MS and PhD in bioengineering.
Epilepsy, a brain disorder, affects approximately 1 per cent of the world’s population. With no cure for it yet, the primary treatment options are the use of anti-epileptic drugs or epilepsy surgery. Zaveri studies why an abnormality occurs in the functioning of a person’s brain, how it gets transmitted to other parts of the brain, and how and why it terminates. Says Zaveri, "We study brain pathways to understand these aberrant signals and whether an implantable device can be created to control them."
In short, a pacemaker for the brain. But is it feasible? Zaveri is confident: "Yes, there is a fair amount of promise in the field. Recently, there has been increased interest in the control of seizures through seizure prediction. For years there has been a belief that seizures could be predicted. Our patients, on occasion, tell us they can anticipate when they are at greater risk for seizures."
An associate research scientist with the Department of Neurology at Yale University, Zaveri has had extensive training in electrical, computer and biomedical engineering and since graduate school has sought to bring this expertise to fully bear upon the study of brain function and dysfunction.
When not studying the brain, Zaveri, 41, is active in aquatics and volunteer activity. He raises funds and awareness for basic education of underprivileged children in India. He has been wind-surfing for two years and sails a 420 boat at the Yale Corinthian Yacht Club for recreation. Zaveri has also hiked part of the Appalachian trail in New England as well as the foothills of the Western Ghats in Maharashtra, apart from scuba-diving off the coast of Massachusetts and the Cayman Islands.