SINAPSE: Singapore Institute for Neurotechnology

Earlier this year, the National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and the Ministry of Defense joined their efforts in establishing the SINAPSE: Singapore Institute for Neurotechnology.  With the initial funding of 20M SGD (~16M USD) and allocated space of 1000 square meters in the NUS Center for Life Science, the newly-formed institute already has 5 primary and 5 affiliated faculty members as well as 10 postdoctoral fellows and research assistants.  The Institute’s director is Prof. Nitish V. Thakor, who is also the BME professor at Johns Hopkins University, Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Trans Neural Rehab Eng, and founder of 3 startups.  The SINAPSE institute has specific interest in the development of peripheral and central neuroprosthetics, neuromorphic systems and neurochips, and other research areas in clinical and cognitive neuroengineering. The director’s over-arching vision is to create the environment for interaction among basic scientists, computational scientists, experimentalists and clinicians, engineers, innovators and entrepreneurs. Prof. Thakor is presently in a recruitment mode, aiming during the next 1-2 years to hire 4 additional faculty members and 10 postdocs, essentially doubling the institute’s manpower. He is looking for researchers that pursue clinically-applied brain research, technology development, and commercial translation of devices. For detailed job offerings, please visit the NTZ Jobs page and the official SINAPSE site. If you plan to attend our ICNPD-2012 meeting in Freiburg, Germany this November, you can stop by SINAPSE’s booth and discuss the job requirements and benefits with Prof. Thakor.

ICNPD-2011 conference in Sydney tackles unresolved issues in neuroprosthetics

The ICNPD-2011 conference took place on November 25-26 2011 on the campus of University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. As a co-chair of the conference, it is my great pleasure to report on its results.  The conference drew 70 participants, and included 25 speakers from 9 countries (Australia, China, Denmark, Germany, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, UK, and USA). Owing to a multi-disciplinary nature of the neuroprosthetic research, the talks were given by scientists, engineers, neurosurgeons, and rehabilitation physicians and covered a wide range of topics, such as new materials, surgical approaches, uses of electrochemical and neurophysiological recordings, circuit design, and signal processing algorithms. During the poster session, 16 posters were presented, including 8 student posters evaluated by the members of Scientific Committee. The Best Student Poster award, the iPad2, was given to Dr. Spencer Chen, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of New South Wales; and the runner-up award was given to Dr. Chandan Reddy, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Iowa. Following the conference, a series of online discussions were held with the speakers to come up with a list of Grand Innovation Challenges in Neural Prosthetics: These challenges are subdivided by the following clusters: Visual prosthetics, Auditory and vestibular prosthetics, Motor/BMI prosthetics, neuromodulation for pain control, Electrode-tissue interface, Insulation and encapsulation, and Packaging. This list will continue to be updated based on your feedback, so please read it thoroughly and don’t forget to leave your comments.

A subset of these challenges will be selected, based on your input, for discussion at the ICNPD-2012 that will take place later this year in Freiburg, Germany: