Development of electronic neurological implants by Huntington Medical Research Institutes (HMRI), a nonprofit biomedical research organization based in Pasadena, California, recently drew the attention of more than one hundred leaders of Asia’s semiconductor micro-fabrication industry.
On March 19-20, 2009, industry representatives from Taiwan, Japan, and Korea convened in Hisinchu, Taiwan for the First International Conference on Neuroprosthetic Devices (ICND), an event designed to enhance West-East interaction and collaboration in the rapidly advancing clinical use of neuroprosthetics and to introduce Taiwan’s engineering community to this industry’s unique technological and neurological research opportunities.
Victor Pikov, Ph.D., a researcher, neural engineer and neurophysiologist with the HMRI Neural Engineering laboratory, chaired the conference’s international organizing committee. Guest speakers recruited by Dr. Pikov and his committee included physicians and scientists from HMRI, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Mayo Clinic, University of Pennsylvania, and the University of California at Los Angeles.
Douglas McCreery, Ph.D., director of the HMRI Neural Engineering Program and one of the nation’s foremost experts on electrical stimulation of the nervous system, joined Dr. Pikov as guest speaker and representative of HMRI.
Key areas covered during the presentations in neural prosthetics applications including deep brain stimulation for treatment of Parkinson’s disease, brain recordings for detection and prediction of epilepsy, auditory prostheses, and devices for reanimating muscles paralyzed after spinal cord injury.
Each presentation addressed current issues encountered in the development and design of neural prosthetic devices such as improved biocompatibility, development of carbon nanotube coatings for neural recording and stimulating electrodes, photolithographic electrode technologies, and the incorporation of photosensors and other active electronic components on retinal visual prostheses.
The conference was sponsored by the National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan’s chief academic establishment in the field of semiconductor technologies and electrical engineering. This university is closely affiliated with the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park; one of a number of advanced technology sites in Taiwan created to bring together industrial, research and academic resources and talents.