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Meet Kristen Willeumier of Willeumier Enterprises in Century City

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristen Willeumier.

Kristen, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in a picturesque horse community outside the city of Chicago. My childhood was spent riding horses and competing at local and national events with the hope of one day becoming a professional athlete. As a natural competitor, I was fascinated by the mind and how to develop the mental skills to excel at an elite level. Therefore, after ten years in competitive sports came to an end, I pursued a BA in Psychology from Boston College with a research focus on cognitive psychology. I briefly explored sports psychology as a career path, but I was driven to learn more about neurological disorders of the brain and how they manifest at the cellular and molecular level. In pursuit of that goal I arrived in Los Angeles in 1998 and completed my graduate research in the laboratory of Neurophysiology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and in the laboratory of Neurogenetics at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. My research involved using live cell imaging to investigate mechanisms of synaptic signaling in Parkinson’s disease. I received MS degrees in both Physiological Science and Neurobiology as well as a PhD degree in Neurobiology from the UCLA. This was followed by post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where I continued my work in the field of neurodegenerative disease.

From 2009-2016 I served as the Director of Research for the Amen Clinics, a nationally recognized outpatient psychiatric clinic which uses neuroimaging in clinical practice. During my tenure we published scientific manuscripts across a variety of areas of research including traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit disorder, autism, biomarkers of suicide, obesity, gender differences in brain function, clinical outcomes, machine learning in psychiatric disorders and brain rehabilitation. In addition, we conducted one of the largest clinical research trials in living NFL football players investigating the long-term effects of repetitive subconcussive impacts on brain function. Subsequent work focused on therapeutic approaches to rehabilitate brain function in these athletes.

In 2017, I went on to become a Senior Research Fellow for the Society for Brain Mapping and Therapeutics and served on the Scientific Advisory Board of Black Brain Health, LLC, founded by Dr. Keith Black, Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. I am currently on the Scientific Advisory Board of Tate Technology, LLC™, a sports safety and technology think tank and licensing firm.

Has it been a smooth road?
One of the most notable physical challenges that is relevant to my current career was an injury I sustained at age 14 during a show jumping competition. My horse slipped, causing us both to fall to the ground. In getting up he inadvertently stepped on my chest causing my ribs to puncture my lung, a condition known as hemopneumothorax. Thankfully, I fully recovered from this injury as well as the countless number of head impacts from ten years as an equestrian. This first-hand experience of sustaining injuries from competitive sports has helped me to connect with compassion and empathy to those who may have serious neurological issues from concussions or subconcussive impacts.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Willeumier Enterprises story. Tell us more about the business.
Willeumier Enterprises, LLC, is a consulting firm which provides services in the field of neuroscience, brain health education and knowledge on the neurological implications of concussions. Services include legal expertise, grant writing, manuscript writing, consultation on the design of research studies, creation of brain health educational materials, public speaking and media.

What makes me unique is that I have personally connected with athletes across a range of sports including the NFL, NHL, and professional jockeys in helping to rehabilitate brain function following concussions. Therefore, I often get asked to provide concierge consulting services to parents with children who have played collision-based sports.

In addition to my consulting practice, I have several educational platforms that extend knowledge to the community on the importance of brain health. This includes a national podcast on the Radio MD platform called Your Brain Health (http://radiomd.com/show/your-brain-health), a segment that airs daily on the Salem Radio network called Here’s To Your Health (http://www.srnonline.com/) and you can find me on various local and national TV shows.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
With new discoveries and technological innovations, the field of neuroscience is evolving at a rapid pace. Stem cell therapies are emerging as one of the most exciting areas of research based their potential for restoration of brain function following spinal cord injuries, stroke and neurological disorders.

There is also advancement in the creation of a practical, inexpensive screening test to detect and monitor Alzheimer’s disease pathology through a non-invasive imaging of the retina of your eye.(1) Given that Alzheimer’s disease pathology can impact the brain up to 20 years prior to the onset of clinical symptoms, early detection through this type of screening will allow for treatments to be recommended which could make a notable difference in slowing down the progression of the disorder, before irreversible brain atrophy occurs.

Reference
1. Yosef Koronyo, David Biggs, Ernesto Barron, David S. Boyer, Joel A. Pearlman, William J. Au, Shawn J. Kile, Austin Blanco, Dieu-Trang Fuchs, Adeel Ashfaq, Sally Frautschy, Gregory M. Cole, Carol A. Miller, David R. Hinton, Steven R. Verdooner, Keith L. Black, Maya Koronyo-Hamaoui. Retinal amyloid pathology and proof-of-concept imaging trial in Alzheimer’s disease. JCI Insight, 2017; 2 (16) DOI: 10.1172/jci.insight.93621

Contact Info:

 
Image Credit:
Bill Curry Photography (Personal photo), CNN West, Radio MD, New Logic Cine, Swaay and Huffington Post, New Day Northwest, Local Memphis Live, RAAD Festival

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