In the weeks leading up to the Alumni Awards Ceremony, we’ll be profiling each honoree in more detail here on our blog. Today, meet Kafui Dzirasa ’01, M8, chemical engineering, associate professor at the Duke University School of Medicine and this year’s Outstanding Alumnus in Engineering and Information Technology.
As an associate professor of psychiatry, behavioral science, neurobiology, and neurosurgery at the Duke University School of Medicine, Kafui Dzirasa ’01, M8, chemical engineering, has dedicated his career to creating a kind of “pacemaker for the brain,” a device that can effectively rewire neurological signals in patients with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other illnesses. His research has earned him, among other accolades, the 2013 Sidney R. Baer Prize for Innovative and Promising Schizophrenia Research, as well as a 2016 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest award given to young scientists by the U.S. government. According to Dalton Hughes ’14, M21, chemical engineering, now an M.D./Ph.D. student working in Dzirasa’s lab at Duke, he is not only “a powerhouse in the fields of engineering, neuroscience, and medicine,” but a “phenomenal research mentor, captivating speaker, compassionate physician, and exceptional educator.”
“[Dr. Dzirasa’s] demonstrated commitment to UMBC and its students is truly special,” writes Keith Harmon, director of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, “is truly special, and an inspiring example of a selfless spirit determined to ‘pay forward’ all that was poured into him at UMBC.”