Kathleen Friel, Ph.D., Director of the Clinical Laboratory for Early Brain Injury Recovery at Burke Medical Research Institute, was honored at the first-ever Women in Tech Awards Luncheon held Nov. 19 at Tappan Hill Mansion in Tarrytown, NY. The awards, organized by the Westchester County Association and the Blueprint for Westchester, recognize local women who have excelled in science, medicine, biotech, healthcare technology, and have made daily strides in improving the human condition and furthering knowledge.
Dr. Friel was one of five women receiving the inaugural awards. In her acceptance speech, Dr. Friel discussed her own struggle with cerebral palsy (CP). Around her first birthday, she was diagnosed with CP and was given a poor prognosis for becoming an independently-functioning adult. But with unfettered determination, she began developing compensatory motor strategies to make up for her significant deficits with movement.
Today, Dr. Friel is devoted to improving hand function in children with CP. Her research focuses on the importance of motor activity in neurorehabilitation. Her laboratory studies the anatomy and function of the brain and spinal cord and how the brain changes as children receive hand rehabilitative training.
Dr. Friel earned her B.S. in biology at Rice University, an M.S. in neuroscience at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston, and a Ph.D. in neurophysiology from the University of Kansas Medical Center. She also holds an M.S. in biostatistics from Columbia University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University Medical Center. In 2012, she received the Gayle G. Arnold Award, the most prestigious award given by the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine.