- February 9, 2017
Thursday, February 9, 2017
Nitish Thakor, PhD
Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Neurology
Co-Director, Neuroengineering Training Program
Johns Hopkins University
About the Presentation
Dr. Thakor discussed innovation and development of safe and effective devices in the context of the burgeoning field of neuroprosthetics and brain machine interfaces. These interfaces employ electrodes in the nervous system to allow paralyzed patients and amputees “thought control” of their robotics and prosthetics. Technological innovations in these interfaces involving gene transfer and optical activation are on the immediate horizon.
Dr. Thakor’s talk emphasized broad regulatory science questions: (1) Are innovation and implementation at odds with each other? (2) Specifically, can rapid innovation of implantable brain machine interfaces be balanced with the deliberate pace of implementation? Or, conversely, can unchecked innovation result in technology that is also safe and effective for better health and performance?
At the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, prostheses, particularly for the upper limb, have reached peak performance in the form of the Modular Prosthetic Limb. Patients are testing these prostheses with brain-computer interfaces. Thus, we must now begin to ask: are these technologies safe and effective?
The delicate balance between innovation and risks is reflected in the need to develop new and improved devices with better performance, while risking biological and electro-mechanical failures or performance degradation. New methods need to be considered for measurement of the safety and efficacy of these devices in order to balance innovation with risk.
About the Presenter
Dr. Thakor is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Neurology at Johns Hopkins University since 1983. He has also been the founding Director of Singapore Institute for Neurotechnology (SINAPSE) at the National University of Singapore since 2012. Dr. Thakor’s technical expertise is in the field of Neuroengineering, where he has pioneered many technologies from brain monitoring to prosthetic arms and neuroprosthesis.
Dr. Thakor has authored 328 refereed journal papers, owns more than a dozen patents, and has co-founded 3 companies. He is currently the Editor in Chief of Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing. Dr. Thakor is recipient of numerous awards including a Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health and a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation. He is also a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, Founding Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society, and Fellow of International Federation of Medical and Biological Engineering.