Speaker: Jack W. Judy, Director of the Nanoscience Institute for Medical and Engineering Technology, University of Florida
Title: Combining Microfabrication and Tissue Engineering to Revolutionize Nerve Interfaces for the Control of Advanced Prosthetic Limbs
Microfabricated electrodes are often implanted into the brain, spinal cord, or nerves in order to record or stimulate neural activity. The goal of such work is typically to advance neuroscientific understanding or to develop new therapies or solutions for nervous-systems diseases or injuries. For example, nerves are a promising target for neural interfaces used to control sophisticated robotic limbs. However, to provide robust, rapid, and precise prosthesis control and to elicit high-resolution prosthesis-related sensory percepts, a nerve interface needs many reliable and independent motor and sensory channels. Unfortunately, all existing non-invasive and non-regenerative nerve interfaces are either unreliable or grossly under-sample the heterogeneous population of efferent and afferent axons. Although tissue engineering, nerve regeneration, and implantable neural-electronic interfaces are individually well-established fields, our team at UF believes that the scalability and reliability challenges of nerve interfaces can be overcome by using a technology that combines these fields. We call our novel multidisciplinary approach tissue-engineered-electronic-nerve-interface (TEENI) technology. In this presentation I will discuss the motivation and challenges relating to neural interfaces, identify the limitations of existing microfabricated approaches, and describe our scalable TEENI technology.
Dr. Jack Judy is the Director of the Nanoscience Institute for Medical and Engineering Technology (NIMET) at the University of Florida, holds the Intel Nanotechnology Chair, and is also a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. The mission of NIMET is to bridge engineering, scientific, and medical communities by revealing, enabling, focusing, and coordinating related research and educational activities. NIMET also provides world-class centralized research facilities, technical support, and equipment for the design, fabrication, and characterization of innovative micro/nanotechnologies, as well as a dedicated hands-on instructional laboratory for training students in the use of micro/nanoscale fabrication tools and techniques. Dr. Judy’s research involves the development of novel micro-electro-mechanical systems, such as microscale and nanoscale sensors, actuators, and systems, and their use in impactful engineering, scientific, biological, and medical, applications. A particular focus is in the field of neural-interface technology and systems, with applications in bi-directional prosthetic control, movement disorders, and the autonomic nervous system. Previously, Dr. Judy was a Program Manager in the Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where he created and managed the Reliable Neural-Interface Technology Program (RE-NET) to address the fundamental, and yet at the time largely overlooked, critical reliability problem of chronic neural-recording interfaces. Without successfully developing and translating to the clinic high-performance neural-recording interfaces that function for the life of the patient, many of the widely envisioned clinical applications for brain-machine interfaces will not be realized. Dr. Judy served at DARPA while on leave from his faculty position at the time in the Electrical and Biomedical Engineering Departments at UCLA, where he also served as Director of the NeuroEngineering Program, the Nanoelectronics Research Facility, and the Instructional Microfabrication Laboratory. He has received the National Science Foundation Career Award and the Okawa Foundation Award.