Solomon Diamond was an accomplished student in his time at WMS, winning the Richard J. Hayes Prize in Mathematics, the Ethel W. Devin Prize in English, the Frederick J. Steele Prize in Science, the Faculty Prize, and the Headmaster’s Prize upon his graduation in 1993, not counting awards won in previous years. So with that in mind, perhaps it’s no surprise that he’s gone on to accomplish great things since moving on from our School. Now an Assistant Professor of Engineering at Dartmouth College’s Thayer School, Sol, with the help of PhD students Katherine Perdue and Paolo Giacometti, is working on a prototype for a new invention that may change the way we think about the health of the human brain.
Sol’s research is currently focused on studying the effectiveness of his invention, which the Thayer School of Engineering’s article referred to as “a thinking cap.” The cap, with its elastic webbing and flexible linkages, actually monitors the relationship between neural signals and blood activity in the brain to detect neural degeneration and risk of stroke. “We’re able to measure the relationship between neural responses within the brain against hemodynamic blood flow and blood oxygen changes, while most labs out there are studying near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and electroencephalography (EEG) separately,” Solomon explained to the Thayer School’s Anna Fiorentino. “Our probe combines NIRS and EEG to make neurovascular assessment of this kind a standard tool for clinical research and, when the applications are found, for use in clinical care.”
The implications of Sol’s work are vast and varied. His cap could be used to evaluate brain health according to age, monitor brain recovery after traumatic injury, track the progress of neurological illnesses, observe the effectiveness of medications on neurological illness and detect the presence of neurological illnesses such as Alzheimer’s before outward symptoms begin to manifest. The cap has the potential to demystify the inner workings of the brain, to unveil causes and effects of injury and illness that have previously been left up to educated guesswork.
When asked to describe what effect The White Mountain School has had on his work and interests, Sol said, “My WMS education continues to inform my life in profound ways. Most recently I have been reflecting on Linda Clark McGoldrick ’55, who sadly passed away at the young age of 54 while I was a WMS student in 1992. I am grateful to Linda and her family for allowing the WMS community to learn from her experiences in battling illness and to share in sorrow at her passing. Memories of these events help give me the strength to persevere in developing new medical technologies during the cold winter nights in New Hampshire.”
Sol’s brain cap is licensed to a Montreal-based manufacturer, and soon the cap will be ready for sale to the public.
* Update: Watch Dartmouth College’s video about Sol’s work here: