Here’s a round-up of briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to

* * *

International brain conference to be held in Roanoke in May

The third international Precision Neuroscience Conference will be held in May. It will draw multidisciplinary brain researchers and clinicians from across the globe who study brain health. 

Hosted by the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, known for its fast-growing translational neuroscience research programs, the international Precision Neuroscience Conference builds on a collaboration between Nordic and Virginia universities. It will be held at the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center from May 25-26.

“The meeting represents a major scientific coalescence in Roanoke of some of the world’s best scientists,” accordin to a statement from Virginia Tech. Previous editions of the program held in Oslo, Norway, in 2018, and in Roanoke in 2016. This year’s conference features 29 prominent thought leaders in mental health, brain cancer, neurodevelopment, aging, neurodegeneration, and brain injury research.

The conference is organized by a partnership of neuroscientists at Virginia Tech, University of Oslo, University of Bergen, Aarhus University and Sunnaas Rehabilitation Hospital.

* * *

U.S. Geological Survey and Virginia Tech to partner on national water-loss program

Virginia Tech researchers and the U.S. Geological Survey are collaborating on a national water-loss program to reduce wasted resources during the extraction, treatment, and distribution of drinking water. 

The USGS Water Resources Mission Area will create new models to estimate national public supply water use based on historical water-use data, as well as data from PIPEiD, a national database of water conveyance infrastructure characteristics created by Sunil Sinha and his research team at Virginia Tech. The USGS will then use these data models to develop a series of pilot systems with the greatest data support for creating a public supply water loss data-driven model using machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The data reported through these pilot systems will be evaluated for quality, standardized into consistent formats, and complemented with other system-level data to support comprehensive and state-of-the-art modeling for public supply water use. Just as PIPEiD provides data for the U.S., predictors of water losses established by the pilot studies will be available nationally. “We aim to improve national estimates of public supply water use that is supported by water delivery infrastructure data,” said Sinha.

Sinha, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, hopes the program will give water utilities guidance on how to improve efficiencies in supply and revenue recovery. This would help utilities better serve their customers, improve their financial standing, and be better positioned to make vital upgrades to the vast and aging water infrastructure in community water supply systems.

* * *

P&H advisers will be in Patrick County on April 21

On April 21, advisors, admission personnel and financial aid experts are coming to Patrick & Henry Community College’s Patrick County site for an advising and registration day specifically for Patrick County students. From 3 to 6 p.m., students in Patrick County will have a convenient one-stop advising and registration event to get ready for next semester.

The classes that will be offered at the Patrick County location during the fall semester include:

College Success Skills

Introduction to Speech Communication

College Composition

English Composition Readiness

United States History

Developmental Psychology

General Biology (with lab)

Quantitative Reasoning

Quantitative Reasoning Support

Intro to Digital and Information Literacy

Applied Hydraulics, Pneumatics and Hydrostatics

Basic Technical Mathematics

Sheet Metal/Arc Welding Basic

Home Electric Power

Introduction to Welding

For students unable to attend the open advising day on April 21, P&HCC’s Patrick County site facilitator, Angie Brown, can assist with registration. Contact her at 276-656-0338 or

The Patrick County site, located at 212 Wood Brothers Drive in Stuart, offers many of the services available at the main campus in Martinsville including advising, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion assistance, a computer lab, acommunity gym and tutoring. For more information, please call 276-656-0338.

* * *

Amy Cook.

VCEDA gives grant to hand therapy clinic in Buchanan County

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority has awarded an $8,000 seed capital grant to Hand in Hand PLLC, a outpatient therapy clinic in Vansant that works with children and adults and to provide specialized hand therapy services.

The business is run by Amy Cook. It projects three full-time and two part-time jobs within three years, according to VCEDA.

Hand in Hand specializes in the treatment of children with various conditions that impact their ability to play, learn and interact with others. Some diagnoses, Cook said, include children with autism, ADHD, sensory processing disorders, Down syndrome, developmental delays and cerebral palsy. 

“We also provide post-surgical rehabilitation and treat conditions following stroke and those associated with carpal tunnel, arthritis, trigger finger and tendonitis in adults,” Cook said. “Our mission is to ensure each one of our patients learn the skills they need in order to achieve success in everyday life.”

A sensory gym for children is located at the clinic and helps children with sensory regulation, emotional regulation, gross motor skills and social skills. In the future, Cook said she plans to add a speech therapist. Free screenings are offered for children and the clinic will work with patients to get the necessary paperwork in place for doctor’s orders on therapy needs identified.

Cook graduated from Radford University’s occupational therapy program in 2016.

Cook worked with the Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College in developing her application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Buchanan County Industrial Development Authority.

About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell and Wise counties and the city of Norton.