Age-related diseases are increasingly a leading cause of disability. Millions of younger adults live with neurological disorders, limb loss from amputation or paralysis from spinal cord injury. Traumatic brain injury can have lifelong effects on cognitive-motor function, significantly decreasing quality and length of life. There is a critical need for state-of-the art technology to effectively address the care and rehabilitation of these individuals. However, innovation in biomedical devices and other neurotechnologies faces several challenges: 1) The pace of innovation is moving more quickly than the rate of evaluation for acceptable performance; 2) Standards and regulatory science for the rigorous validation of safety, efficacy, and long-term reliability are missing; 3) Lack of open access to technologies that slows the transfer of novel technologies to the market; and 4) Current technologies are not affordable. To address these challenges, the University of Houston will partner with Arizona State University to establish and host a multi-institution Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) for Building Reliable Advances and Innovation in Neurotechnology (BRAIN).
The BRAIN Center's vision is a synergistic, interdisciplinary approach to develop and validate affordable patient-centered technologies. BRAIN will leverage expertise in neural systems, cognitive and rehabilitation engineering, robotics, device development, clinical testing and reverse-translational research at the University of Houston and Arizona State University to 1) enhance the rate of development and empirical validation of new technologies through partnerships with industry leaders and other strategic partners; 2) develop standards and technologies in human and non-human models, using a multi-scale approach ranging from single neurons to organismal systems; 3) characterize innovative technologies such as biosensors and quantitative analysis tools for systems and behaviors; 4) evaluate the impact of these technologies on quality of life; and 5) reduce the cost of neurotechnologies. The BRAIN Center's mission is multifold: to accelerate the progress of science and advance national health by transferring engineering innovations in neurotechnology to the end users, and to rectify underrepresentation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields by broadening new participation and retaining current participants in STEM. It also will focus on problems in the neurological space that affect underrepresented groups disproportionately. BRAIN will become an innovative neurotechnology hub for the Southwest, creating a pipeline from discoveries to solutions while helping talented students, scientists, and engineers in the region take their innovations to the next level and solve one of the greatest unmet medical and health care needs of our time.
BRAIN will leverage a unique concentration of researchers and innovative research and development ecosystems with industrial partnerships to design, develop, test, and characterize neural technologies that can effectively transform the lives of disabled individuals. The Center will investigate all levels of neural function to enhance not only current technologies but also understanding of the mechanisms underlying neurological disease and injury. The University of Houston IUCRC Site - a Hispanic-Serving Institution - will focus on multi-scale, multi-modal, and multi-disciplinary and noninvasive approaches to understanding all aspects of human neural function "in action and in context" in complex natural settings, and to deploying noninvasive technologies treating human disability. The University of Houston IUCRC site will bring a broad range of expertise spanning the spectrum of cognitive, affective, neural, and rehabilitation engineering across the human lifespan, big data analytics, computational modeling, wearable electronics, mobile brain-body imaging devices, intervention techniques including peripheral, brain-machine interfaces, smart human-machine systems, wearable robots, virtual and augmented reality and other noninvasive solutions.
Read More >