Danielle Cooke

Elon University / Today in Elon / Danielle Cook 16 works medical miracles

A dual-degree engineering graduate, Danielle Danny Cook trains neurosurgeons in using technology to treat tremors from conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

Danielle “Danny” Cook 16 Sees miracles every day. Even better, it helps make it happen.

As a Clinical Applications Specialist in Neurosurgery at Insightec, she trains neurosurgeons in how to use technology to perform non-invasive brain surgery using the company’s Exablate Neuro system to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease.

“Some patients have had tremors their whole lives, and then — within hours — their hands stay still. It’s one of the most worth seeing in the world,” Cook said. “It amazes me every day. I really found my dream job.”

Exablate Neuro uses focused ultrasound to target a small area of ​​the thalamus, heating it and causing a small lesion that cuts off the tremor pathways. This procedure is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of idiopathic tremors and tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease.

Cook graduated from Elon’s dual-degree engineering program, received a Bachelor of Science in Biophysics/Biomedical Engineering from Elon and went on to Columbia University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering.

“For my career, Elon in particular has given me two of the most basic and essential tools,” Cook said. “First, the Elon professors instilled in me the basic concepts of engineering in creative ways. I am constantly reminded of some of the classes and projects I completed in those three years.

The second is the ability to communicate, which I think is essential to being a successful engineer, and which I think can often be overlooked in engineering curricula. At Elon, there is not only a natural exposure to building communication skills through the core curriculum, but also in the engineering program: through poster presentations, working on team projects and even visiting an elementary school to teach the basics of engineering. All of these experiences and more taught me how to effectively communicate my thoughts and ideas.”

These skills are essential to communicating with people at the various levels of knowledge – surgeons, doctors, patients, fellow engineers – encountered in her role at Insightec.

Cook was not planning on becoming an engineer when she attended Elon University. Although planning a course at medical school, during orientation I attended an interest session on engineering led by Associate Professor Emeritus Rich D’Amato.

“He started talking about biomedical engineering, and it was as if the doors had opened and sunlight came in,” Cook said. “Then I knew that was exactly what I wanted to pursue. I took that feeling and changed my course load a few days before I started studying. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me.”

She discovered her interest in the brain–“the biggest remaining puzzle to solve”–during a summer internship at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains, New York, as a research assistant on a project studying the positive effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation on spinal cord injury patients. . In her final year at Elon, she completed a capstone project with Associate Professor Scott Walter to research a coating of carbon nanotubes for deep brain stimulation in Parkinson’s patients.

She advises Elon students to take advantage of opportunities to study abroad and immerse themselves in the range of subjects available to them.

“It changed my life from going to that seminar,” Cook said. “Go outside your comfort zone to learn as much about as many areas as possible, even if you’re sure you already have a path. This is a unique experience and a time in your life, you just might find something new that is exactly what you’ve been looking for.”

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