The ICNPD-2011 conference will bring together international investigators of all levels to Sidney, Australia in order to discuss recent research findings and to establish new collaborations in the new and exciting field of neural prosthetic devices. The conference will take place on November 26-27, 2011. It will be preceded by a series of online discussions by the organizing committee, resulting in the selection of several key innovation challenges in the field that will be addressed at the conference. This proposal aims to expand the participation of junior US researchers at the conference by subsidizing their travel costs.
Intellectual Merit The overall conference theme will be the technological and biological challenges in translating the neural prosthetics into clinic. There are multiple research groups worldwide involved in development and testing of neuroprosthetic implants for a variety of neurological disorders and similar difficulties often arise in selecting biocompatible encapsulation materials, in applying modern wireless communication technology, in better understanding of clinical and user needs, etc. Several discussion panels will be held at the conference to stimulate the interaction of participants in seeking the solutions for these prevailing challenges, rather than simply reporting on the progress from the laboratories. An additional emphasis of the conference will be upon identifying the areas of possible collaborations between the US and Australian scientists and finding the mechanisms for jump-starting these collaborations. There are multiple opportunities for the researchers to initiate productive collaborative projects in the development and testing of devices for the hearing and vision loss, muscle paralysis, Parkinson?s disease, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders. The conference described in this proposal is one that will bring together established investigators and early-career researchers just entering this field. To enable a focused exchange at the discussion panels during the two-day meeting, there will be a series of brainstorming online discussions preceding the conference.
Broader Impact The conference can inform the NSF about new developments in the rapidly growing neural prosthetics field. A specific goal of the NSF that will be aided by the conference is the establishment of new programs which emphasize integration of neural technology research and medical device industry. The conference will provide a good opportunity to highlight best practices in this area and to bring lessons from this experience to the NSF initiatives.
The conference participants will be selected to represent a broad spectrum of interested participants from academia, national laboratories, government, and industry. Recruitment of participants representing researchers at all stages in their careers from well established to new researchers just starting their career will be actively pursued. A special effort will be made to increase the representation of women and underrepresented minorities at the conference. The conference program, poster and talk abstracts will be posted on the conference website as well as on Frontiers Conferences, a premier online depository for the conference proceedings in the neuroscience-related fields (www.frontiersin.org/conferences), to serve as a practical educational tool. In addition, the selected short papers, submitted to the conference, will be peer-reviewed and published as a special issue of the open-access journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.
The grant supported six US researchers, at the early career level, to attend the Third International Conference on Neuroprosthetic Devices (ICNPD-2011). This annual meeting took place at the University of New South Wales on November 25-26, 2011. The conference drew 70 participants, including 25 speakers from 9 countries (Australia, China, Denmark, Germany, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, UK, and USA) and 16 poster presenters. Students and early-career professionals represented a majority of conference participants. Eight out of 16 posters at the conference were presented by pre- or post-doctoral students. These posters were carefully evaluated by the Scientific Advisory Committee and students were given valuable feedback on continuing the research toward its eventual publication. The student posters were scored by the members of Scientific Committee to identify two best submissions. The runner-up award of $400 was given to Dr. Chandan Reddy, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Iowa; while the Best Poster award, the iPad2, was given to Dr. Spencer Chen, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of New South Wales. A representative from the US Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Ethan Cohen, was a keynote speaker at the conference, and he received valuable feedback from researchers about new developments in the field and the need for more coordination by federal agencies that emphasize integration of neural technology research and medical device industry. The conference provided a good opportunity to highlight best practices in this area. The ICNPD-2011 conference demonstrated the need and will of scientists throughout the world to discuss the existing challenges in the neural prosthetics development and future direction of the field, and particularly, the development of better electrodes, insulation, packaging, and wireless bi-directional communication with the implanted device. The field of neural prosthetics is exceptionally multi-disciplinary and many of the identified challenges will require continued advances and breakthroughs in the fields of materials science, electrochemistry, neurophysiology, VLSI circuit design, and neural computation. Following the conference, a series of online discussions were held with the speakers to come up with a list of Grand Innovation Challenges in Neural Prosthetics. This list can be used as a guide by researchers in the field for identifying novel avenues for their research. The list of Challenges and the abstracts of conference talks have been permanently posted on the conference website at: http://neurotechzone.com/prior-conferences/icnpd-2011.