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Our Bioelectronic Future: Smaller, Smarter, Connected

Speaker Abstracts

Caroline Ajo-Franklin
Staff Scientist, Molecular Foundry, Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Wednesday, December 5, 2018, 10:15 a.m.

Transport of electrons within living cells underpins central biological processes including growth, biosynthesis, and gene regulation. Interfacing microorganism with electrodes offers the opportunity to control and monitor these key biological processes electronically. The talk will describe how we have engineered bi-directional electronic communication between microorganisms and non-living systems using synthetic biology. By transplanting extracellular electron transfer pathways into the industrial organism Escherichia coli, we can confer upon these cells a molecularly-defined route to both accept and donate electrons to electrodes. Ajo-Franklin will also describe how this bidirectional communication has opened the door to using electronic signals to actuate cellular behavior, report on complex chemicals in the environment, and as a feedstock for chemicals and fuels.

Dr. Caroline Ajo-Franklin is a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Her scientific training started in chemistry; she earned a B.S. in chemistry at Emory University in 1997 and received her Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford University in 2004. She then trained as postdoctoral fellow in synthetic biology with Pam Silver at Harvard Medical School, and moved to Lawrence Berkeley Lab in 2007 to start her independent research career. At Lawrence Berkeley Lab, she has built a strongly interdisciplinary research program focused on molecular-level understanding and engineering of the interface between living organisms and non-living materials.


Matt Angle

Matt Angle
Founder and CEO, Paradromics Inc.
Wednesday, December 5, 2018, 2:40 p.m.

Paradromics has developed a multi-channel neural amplifier and data acquisition system for use with large arrays of microwire electrodes. It consists of a fully custom signal chain: microwire electrodes are bonded en bloc to a custom CMOS readout integrated circuit, the multiplexed output channels are digitized on a rigid-flex printed circuit board and transmitted via a 40gE transceiver to a data acquisition server PC running custom high-performance interface software. The system allows for recording from up to 65,536 simultaneous channels at rates up to 39 kHz with a resolution of 12-bits per digitized sample.

Matt Angle has a background in nanotechnology and neuroscience. As a graduate student at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research and as a post-doctoral researcher at Stanford University, he was immersed in the development and the study of neural recording technologies. In the course of his research, he and his collaborators invented a new, powerful way of interfacing with the brain. As founder and chief executive officer of Paradromics, Angle has assembled a team of physicists and electrical, software, and mechanical engineers to turn a promising technology into a robust, marketable platform.

Sangeeta S. Chavan
Professor, Center for Biomedical Science, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research,
Northwell Health
Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 1:30 p.m.

Research at the frontiers of immunology and neuroscience has identified the nervous system as an important partner of the immune system in the regulation of inflammation. The functional organization of this neural control is based on principles of reflex regulation. Neural reflex circuits, including the vagus nerve-based inflammatory reflex, are able to modulate immune responses by detecting inflammatory mediators and relaying signals back to the immune system. Reflexes involving the vagus nerve and other nerves have been therapeutically explored in models of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. Recent successful clinical trials using bioelectronic devices that modulate the inflammatory reflex to significantly ameliorate rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease provide a path for using neural modulation as a therapeutic modality for targeting molecular mechanisms of immunity.

Sangeeta S. Chavan is a professor at the Center for Biomedical Science and Bioelectronic Medicine at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, where she leads a multidisciplinary team of investigators with expertise in electrophysiology, molecular biology, and cell biology. The major focus of her research is in the newly emerging field of bioelectronic medicine, a new discipline that takes advantage of body’s neural network to treat diseases without the use of pharmaceuticals. Her work explores neural circuits that regulate various immune responses, and she has successfully used direct electrical stimulation, optogenetic methods and non-invasive stimulation paradigms to target these circuits to modulate inflammatory responses. With an expertise in inflammatory disease models, Chavan conducts multiple collaborative projects that involves both basic science and corporate partners. Studies carried out by her group have paved the way for recent successful clinical studies using electrical vagus nerve stimulation as a therapeutic strategy for rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.


Wayne Goodman
Chair, Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine
Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 2:40 p.m.

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is a functional neurosurgical procedure that has proven effective in medication refractory movement disorders.   More recently, DBS has also shown promise for treatment resistant psychiatric disorders such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and major depression.  For example, Ventral Striatum (VS) DBS shows benefit in about 60% of cases with intractable OCD. However, there is room for improvement in both clinical benefits and reduction of DBS-induced behavioral side effects.  Adjustments are made largely on the basis of subjective clinical ratings.  There is a clear need for an adaptive DBS (aDBS) system that can adjust stimulation automatically in response to the patient's changing clinical needs based on neural recordings. One of the challenges was to identify a label for the classifiers that is objective, reliable and on same time scale as brain recordings. In our NIH BRAIN funded study, multiple streams of time-locked neurophysiological and behavioral data will be captured to build classifiers, including local field potentials (LFPs), EEG, electrocorticography (ECoG) and Automated Facial Affect Recognition (AFAR), which objectively measures emotional valence using computer vision machine learning. 

Wayne Goodman, M.D., D.C and Irene Ellwood Professor and Chair of the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine, specializes in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) for intractable psychiatric illnesses. He is the principal developer of the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS), the gold standard for assessing OCD, and co-founder of the International OCD Foundation, the major advocacy group for patients with OCD. Prior to joining Baylor, he held senior administrative positions at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, NIMH and the University of Florida.  He graduated from Columbia University with a degree in electrical engineering, received his medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine and completed his internship, residency, and research fellowship at Yale School of Medicine where he remained on faculty for 7 years.  He has received numerous awards, published over 300 peer-reviewed papers and has a longstanding record of extramural research funding and is currently Principal Investigator on three grants from NIH’s BRAIN initiative including one on developing Adaptive DBS for OCD.

Henry T. Greely
Deane F. and Kate Edelman Johnson Professor of Law; Professor, by courtesy, of Genetics; Director, Center for Law and the Biosciences, Stanford University
Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 10:35 a.m.

Electronic devices are not new to biology or to medicine: the first cardiac pacemaker was implanted in 1958, the first electroconvulsive therapy was undertaken in the 1930s.  As pharmaceutical approaches to many conditions and traits continue to be difficult to develop, especially in the areas of mental illness and neurological disease, bioelectronics becomes an increasingly promising alternative.  But that alternative has been hard to achieve. This talk will consider some of the ethical, legal, and social issues that may be holding back bioelectronics, particularly in the form of neuromodulatory devices. These include, among others, questions of safety, efficacy, privacy, regulation, reimbursement, and acceptance by physicians and by patients.

Henry T. (Hank) Greely is the Deane F. and Kate Edelman Johnson Professor of Law and Professor, by courtesy, of Genetics at Stanford University.  He specializes in ethical, legal, and social issues arising from advances in the biosciences, particularly from genetics, neuroscience, and human stem cell research.  He is president of the International Neuroethics Society; directs the Stanford Center for Law and the Biosciences and the Stanford Program on Neuroscience in Society; chairs the California Advisory Committee on Human Stem Cell Research; and serves on the Neuroscience Forum of the National Academy of Medicine; the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law of the National Academy of Sciences; and the NIH BRAIN Initiative’s Multi-Council Working Group, whose Neuroethics Division he co-chairs. He was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2007.  His book, “The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction,” was published in May 2016.  Greely graduated from Stanford in 1974 and from Yale Law School in 1977.  He served as a law clerk for Judge John Minor Wisdom on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and for Justice Potter Stewart of the United States Supreme Court.  After working during the Carter Administration in the Departments of Defense and Energy, he entered private law practice in Los Angeles in 1981.  He joined the Stanford faculty in 1985.

Eran Klein
Affiliate Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Washington
Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 2:05 p.m.

The emergence of brain-computer interface (BCI) technology as a field has coincided with increasing interest in ethical issues related to neuroscience, neurology, and psychiatry. While the clinical applications of BCI are still mostly in the future, the potential for BCI technology to transform the practice of medicine is significant. Klein will talk about how the field of BCI is currently working to identify and address social, ethical, and legal issues arising in the context of novel technology development and explore lessons that this work may have for research in bioelectronics.

Eran Klein is trained in neurology and philosophy. He is an assistant professor in the department of neurology at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) and co-directs the neuroethics group within the Center for Neurotechnology at the University of Washington. His work focuses on ethical issues in emerging technologies, including implantablebrain-computer interfaces (BCI). He conducts research on end user experience with neural devices and has published on issues of agency, identity, privacy and informed consent related to neurotechnology.

Eran Klein
Affiliate Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Washington
Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 2:05 p.m.

The emergence of brain-computer interface (BCI) technology as a field has coincided with increasing interest in ethical issues related to neuroscience, neurology, and psychiatry. While the clinical applications of BCI are still mostly in the future, the potential for BCI technology to transform the practice of medicine is significant. Klein will talk about how the field of BCI is currently working to identify and address social, ethical, and legal issues arising in the context of novel technology development and explore lessons that this work may have for research in bioelectronics.

Eran Klein is trained in neurology and philosophy. He is an assistant professor in the department of neurology at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) and co-directs the neuroethics group within the Center for Neurotechnology at the University of Washington. His work focuses on ethical issues in emerging technologies, including implantablebrain-computer interfaces (BCI). He conducts research on end user experience with neural devices and has published on issues of agency, identity, privacy and informed consent related to neurotechnology.

Kurt Koester
Director, Diagnostics and Monitoring, Advanced Bionics Corporation LLC

The field of cochlear implantation started in the late 1950s. Since that time, it has grown into the most mature and successful neuromodulation device. This talk will provide an overview of the history of cochlear implants and the lessons that can be applied to other bioelectronic applications. Today’s consumers of medical technology have perceptions and expectations for medical devices that is informed by their experience with consumer electronics and it is important to satisfy these expectations with new products. The process of developing and commercializing new products and technologies in the active implantable medical device space will also be discussed.

Kurt Koester is a medical technology executive who has led the design and development of a monitoring system that provides real-time electrophysiological feedback during surgery and for patient monitoring to improve the quality and cost effectiveness of care delivery. He started his career in the medical field at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, working on bone substitute materials, biomaterials and utilizing fracture mechanics to characterize biological tissues. Koester received his bachelor’s in materials science from the University of Minnesota, his master’s and Ph.D. in materials science from the University of California, Berkeley, and his MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Ana Maiques
CEO, Neuroelectronics
Wednesday, December 5, 2018, 2:05 p.m.

The talk will focus on how novel technologies such as transcranial current stimulation can help to shape a new way to deal with the brain and brain disorders. The potential use at home of both EEG and stim devices will transform our healthcare into a digital at home paradigm.  Maiques will explain the challenges and opportunities on developing a company based on novel neurotech and how these technologies may affect our future in areas like communication or human enhancement.

Ana Maiques was nominated by IESE as one of the most influential entrepreneurs under 40 in Spain in 2010, she was the only woman on that list. Maiques received the EU Prize for Women Innovators from the European Commission EC in 2014. Also in 2014, she was an award recipient of the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge. In 2015 & 2016, Maiques was named one of most inspiring women on the Inspiring Fifty list in Europe of women technological leaders and innovators. She continues to break the barriers for women and entrepreneurs bringing together science and technology in an impactful way.  As a company, Neuroelectrics received the Best Start-up in Health Award in 2015 by Wired UK magazine and in 2016 was recognized as one of the “Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America” by Entrepreneur Magazine’s Entrepreneur 360™ List, the most comprehensive analysis of private companies in America. Currently Neuroelectrics is conducting studies on the effects of brain stimulation to slow down degenerative diseases such as Alzheimers and dementia in the elderly population. That is being done with a Harvard University healthcare subsidiary.  Another interesting technology Maiques will discuss is Neuroelectrics’ cloud platform which enables doctors to monitor and stimulate patients without them having to come to a doctor's office or hospital in terms of the future of healthcare.

Jason Robert
Director of Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics and Dean's Distinguished Professor in the Life Sciences, Arizona State University
Wednesday, December 5, 2018, 8:45 a.m.

Non-surgical neuro-stimulation (NSNS) has been the focus of considerable financial support in the US over the past few years. While surgical interventions, for instance in the development of neuro-prostheses, have often been preferred primarily due to considerations of precision in output and input, non-surgical interventions afford the putative benefit of a lower risk profile. But that benefit may be only illusory: NSNS interventions remain invasive even if not surgically invasive, and the potential reduction in precision of NSNS may yield more unintended consequences than are evident in surgically based neuro-stimulation. Moreover, NSNS interventions will be considerably more widely deployed, especially in consumer and civilian contexts. The trade offs between surgical and non-surgical neuro-stimulation efforts must be critically explored in order to advance the overall promise of neuro-stimulation.

Jason Scott Robert (Row-bear) holds the Lincoln Chair in Ethics and serves as director of ASU's Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics and Dean's Distinguished Professor in the Life Sciences.  His teaching and research are at the intersection of bioethics and philosophy of biology. His scholarship focuses on the justification of research perceived as controversial, and his research is currently or has been funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Science Foundation, the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the Canadian Stem Cell Network, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. In addition to his scholarly work, Robert serves on the board of the non-profit Research Animal Retirement Foundation (RARF).  He moved to ASU in 2004 from the Philosophy Department at Dalhousie University, where he was assistant professor and CIHR New Investigator. He earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario in 2000, where he also earned an M.A. in 1996. His undergraduate studies were at Queen's University at Kingston, Ontario.

John Rogers
Louis Simpson and Kimberly Querrey Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern University
Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 8:30 a.m.

A remarkable feature of modern integrated circuit technology is its ability to operate in a stable fashion, with almost perfect reliability, without physical or chemical change.  Recently developed classes of electronic materials create an opportunity to engineer the opposite outcome, in the form of ‘transient’ devices that dissolve, disintegrate or otherwise disappear at triggered times or with controlled rates.  Water-soluble transient electronics serve as the foundations for interesting applications in zero-impact environmental monitors, 'green' consumer electronics and bio-resorbable biomedical implants.  This presentation describes the foundational concepts in chemistry, materials science and assembly processes for bioresorbable electronics in 1D, 2D and 3D architectures, the latter enabled by approaches that draw inspiration from the ancient arts of kirigami and origami.  Wireless sensors of intracranial temperature, pressure and electrophysiology for treatment of traumatic brain injury and nerve stimulators for accelerated neuroregeneration provide application examples.

Professor John A. Rogers obtained B.A. and B.S. degrees in chemistry and in physics from the University of Texas, Austin, in 1989.  From MIT, he received S.M. degrees in physics and in chemistry in 1992 and the Ph.D. degree in physical chemistry in 1995.  From 1995 to 1997, Rogers was a Junior Fellow in the Harvard University Society of Fellows.  He joined Bell Laboratories as a Member of Technical Staff in the Condensed Matter Physics Research Department in 1997, and served as Director of this department from the end of 2000 to 2002. He then spent thirteen years on the faculty at University of Illinois, most recently as the Swanlund Chair Professor and Director of the Seitz Materials Research Laboratory.  In 2016, he joined Northwestern University as the Louis Simpson and Kimberly Querrey Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Medicine.

Pamela Silver
Elliot T and Onie H Adams Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School
Wednesday, December 5, 2018, 9:20 a.m.

The engineering of biology presents vast opportunities for therapeutic design, diagnosis, prevention of disease and solutions to environmental problems.  We use what we know from Nature to engineer systems with predictable behaviors.  We also seek to discover new natural strategies to then re-engineer. Here, I will present concepts and experiments that address how we approach these problems in a systematic way.  We have developed the ‘bionic leaf’ to channel sunlight via electrocatalysts to commodity producing bacteria.   Bacteria are programmed to produce biofuel precursors, plastics and feed stocks. In doing so, we have discovered a wide spread strategy by which all prokaryotes sequester chemical reactions to protect from toxic intermediates.  These results have far-reaching implications for cell-based manufacturing and sustainability.

Pamela Silver is the Adams Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.  She received her B.S. in Chemistry and Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of California. She was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University where she was an American Cancer Society Fellow.  Her work has been recognized by an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association, a Research Scholar of the March of Dimes, an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, Claudia Adams Barr Investigator, an NIH MERIT award, the Philosophical Society Lecture, a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  She is among the top global influencers in synthetic biology and her work was named one of the top ten breakthroughs by the World Economic Forum.   She serves on the board of the Internationally Genetics Engineering Machines (iGEM) Competition.

Doug Weber
Associate Professor, Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh
Tuesday, December 4, 2018 10:00 a.m.

Significant advances in materials and microelectronics over the last decade have enabled clinically relevant neurotechnologies that measure and regulate neural activity in the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. These technologies provide new capabilities for studying basic mechanisms of information processing and control in the nervous system, while also creating new opportunities for restoring function lost to injury or disease. Devices that measure the activity of sensory neurons can be used to monitor physical and physiological parameters, such as limb posture and movement or bladder volume and pressure, providing a natural source of feedback for controlling neural prostheses. Neural sensors can also measure the activity of motor neurons to enable direct neural control over prosthetic limbs and assistive technologies. Conversely, these neural interface technologies can stimulate activity in sensory and motor neurons to create sensory percepts and reanimate paralyzed muscles. Although many of these applications rely currently on devices that must be implanted into the body for precise targeting, ultra-miniaturized devices can be injected through the skin or vascular system to access deep structures without open surgery. Furthermore, improved and alternative technologies for sensing and stimulating neural activity through the skin are extending capabilities of wearable neurotechnologies for monitoring, rehabilitation, training applications.

Doug Weber is an associate professor in the department of bioengineering and holds a joint appointment in the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh.  Weber recently completed a four-year term as program manager in the Biological Technologies office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).  Weber received a Ph.D. in bioengineering from Arizona State University and completed post-doctoral training in the Centre for Neuroscience at the University of Alberta.  His primary research area is neural engineering, including studies of motor learning and control of walking and reaching with an emphasis on applications to neurotechnology and rehabilitation medicine.  Specific research interests include functional electrical stimulation, activity-based neuromotor rehabilitation, neural coding, and neural control of prosthetic devices.  Active projects in his lab are focused on building neuro-machine interfaces to enable amputees to achieve natural control and sensation with robotic limbs.

Aaron Weinroth
Commercialization and External Innovation Lead, Panaxium
Wednesday, December 5, 2018, 3:25pm


Bioelectronic devices have made significant contributions to treating and curing numerous medical conditions. An emerging new class of organic bioelectric materials is now poised to expand the scope of bioelectronics by improving the compatibility and capability at the interface between biology and device. Panaxium is exploiting these advances to develop novel bioelectronic device solutions for a wider range of patients and applications but, as with the commercialization of all new medical technologies, there are many factors to consider and challenges to overcome to successfully navigate from concept to the clinic.

Aaron Weinroth is the Commercialization and External Innovation Lead for Panaxium, responsible for collecting market insights, identifying opportunities to apply the company's capabilities to solving real and worthwhile problems, defining the product roadmap and requirements, and securing enabling intellectual property and external partnerships to achieve the corporate vision. He also advises companies on commercialization strategy, is a mentor for start-up entrepreneurs at the Ontario Brain Institute, serves as an external reviewer for the Ontario Centres of Excellence innovation funding programs, and is a judge for the Prism Awards for photonics innovation. Prior to joining Panaxium Aaron was the Chief Marketing Officer at Tornado Spectral Systems where he oversaw many aspects of Tornado's technology commercialization activities including product management, marketing, business development, and the company’s intellectual property portfolio. Aaron also served in senior business and engineering capacities developing and introducing new products in the medical device (neurodiagnostics) and imaging (surgical navigation) industries for both small early-stage growth organizations and the large global corporations that acquired them. Aaron earned degrees in electrical and biomedical engineering from the University of Toronto and is a licensed professional engineer.


Daniel Yoshor
Professor and Chair, Marc J. Shapiro Endowed Chair, Neurosurgery, Baylor College of Medicine
Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 9:05 a.m.

There are currently no treatment options for most blind patients. For decades, scientists have dreamt of using technology to restore visual function through the development of visual cortical prosthetics (VCPs). VCPs aim to bypass damaged eyes and optic nerves and transmit images from a head-mounted camera directly into the intact visual cortex region of the brain. It is well established that electrical current delivered to a small region of the visual cortex produces the percept of a small flash of light, known as a phosphene, at a specific location in the visual field. By combining multiple phosphenes into forms, VCPs hope to produce percepts of useful visual images, much like pixels in a computer display. Advances in technology have led to renewed interest in developing a useful VCP, and several designs are in active development. While some challenges may be overcome with technology, overcoming others may require a deeper understand of the neurobiology of visual perception.

Daniel Yoshor is the Marc J. Shapiro Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at Baylor College of Medicine. As a neurosurgeon, he has extensive experience in human brain mapping and in the implantation of intracranial electrodes, including experience as an investigator in clinical trials. As a visual neuroscientist, he serves as PI for a research team that studies visual perception in human patients with implanted intracranial electrodes. His long term goals are to understand how neural activity in sensory cortex is linked to perception, and to develop a cortical visual prosthetic that employs stimulation of human visual cortex to restore vision to the blind, in collaboration with a larger team of scientists and clinicians. His research is funded by the NIH, DARPA, and the VA, and has been published in leading journals including Journal of Neuroscience, Cerebral Cortex, Journal of Neurosurgery, Current Biology, PNAS, and Nature Neuroscience.


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