Sook-Lei Liew is an Associate Professor and Director of the Neural Plasticity and Neurorehabilitation Laboratory at the University of Southern California. She has joint appointments in the divisions of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, Biomedical Engineering, Neuroscience, and Neurology, is a member of the USC Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute. She is the Chair of the ENIGMA Stroke Recovery Working Group, which aims to meta-analyze high-resolution brain imaging and behavioral outcomes in individuals after stroke from thousands of patients collected across more than 40 research cohorts from 10 countries worldwide. She also is a co-Director and co-founder of the USC SMART-VR (SensoriMotor Assessment and Rehabilitation Training) Center (smartvr.usc.edu).
After she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Kinesiology and English from Rice University in 2006, she went on to receive a Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy (2008) and a PhD in Occupational Science, with a Concentration in Neuroscience (2012), both from USC. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in neurorehabilitation and has been a visiting scholar at Peking University, the University of Tübingen, and Johns Hopkins University.
The goal of Dr. Liew’s research is to understand mechanisms of neural plasticity in healthy individuals and individuals after neurological injury that support a person’s ability to learn new skills and recover from brain injury. Her laboratory has championed novel big data approaches to study brain imaging and behavior to understand how people recover after stroke, as well as neuromodulatory techniques and technologies such as noninvasive brain stimulation, brain computer interfaces and virtual reality to promote learning and enhance plasticity and rehabilitation after brain injury. She has over 40 peer-reviewed publications and given over 120 invited talks and conference presentations. Her work has received over $4.5 million in funding from agencies such as the NIH, National Science Foundation, US Army, and American Heart Association, has received the SXSW Special Jury Award for the Innovative Use of Virtual Reality Technology in the Field of Health, and has been featured in press outlets such as Forbes, CNET, and PC Magazine.