Podcast Episode 25: Meet the High School Student Who Is Changing Parkinson's Disease Diagnosis

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There is no single, definitive test for Parkinson’s disease (PD). The diagnosis is made by an expert clinician who asks questions about a person’s health and medical history and observes their movement. But an enterprising high school student is working on a system that analyzes movements of facial muscles to make an early diagnosis and track Parkinson’s progression. Erin Smith of Shawnee Mission West High School in the Kansas City, Kansas area adapted a real-time facial expression recognition system to detect “facial masking,” a common Parkinson’s symptom caused by stiff facial muscles. Her system, called FacePrint, uses a web camera or smartphone to analyze facial movements and compare them to a database of people with and without Parkinson’s.

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About This Episode

Released: March 27, 2018

Erin Smith

Ms. Smith is the founder of FacePrint, a novel, telemedicine diagnostic tool for Parkinson’s disease. FacePrint uses facial recognition software and machine learning algorithms to detect early-stage differences in facial muscle movements. FacePrint has won numerous awards, including first prize in the Twitter #BUILTBYGIRLS Challenge. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Fortune and Seventeen Magazine. Ms. Smith has won top awards for her research at several international science competitions, including the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and the International BioGENEius Challenge. She loves participating in hackathons and is the co-founder of KC STEMinists, which teaches middle and high school students how to use computer science to address societal issues. Ms. Smith is a senior at Shawnee Mission High School near Kansas City, Kansas. As she pursues higher education and beyond, she wants to continue to develop innovative healthcare technologies by combining her interests in neuroscience and computer science, transforming the way diseases are diagnosed and treated.


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