WVU’s own Julie Brefczynski-Lewis predicting the future of science in 2017


Julie Brefczynski-Lewis (photo by Richard Nolan)

Julie Brefczynski-Lewis:

Virtual Reality Reset

Dr. Julie Brefczynski-Lewis is an Assistant Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology in the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute at West Virginia University in Morgantown. She has studied higher order brain functions such as attention, emotions, social interactions, and meditation.

The scientific method is rooted in objectivity and has relied on government and public confidence that scientists are well trained and dedicated to accurate results. I think the big question of 2017 will be how science will adapt to a changing cultural landscape in terms of public attitudes, funding, global participation, and more.

In my field of neuroscience, we are a little lucky that many lawmakers making political and funding decisions have direct experiences with neurological and mental health needs of loved ones. In terms of disruptive technology, I predict virtual reality will have a major influence on how science is performed and communicated. In my research, for example, we are adapting novel PET (positron emission tomography) brain imager technology so that it is wearable and allows imaging of someone moving and responding in a virtual environment, such as an addict in a cue-laden setting. Other laboratories are using VR to explore the shapes and functions of neurons and molecules, and it’s likely to become a haven for social interactions such that exciting new studies on human behavior will emerge.



The ‘Research Panel’ during Oct. 24th visit of Senator Manchin to WVU to discuss the opioid addiction crisis


From left to right: Dr. Erin Winstanley (WVU Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy), Dr. David Siderovski (WVU School of Medicine), Dr. Judith Feinberg (WVU School of Medicine), and Dr. Rob Bossarte (Director, WVU Injury Control Research Center).