Featured Speakers

Featured Speakers2022-07-12T19:59:08+00:00

Theresa Jones, PhD
University of Texas, Austin

Dr. Theresa Jones is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Jones’ laboratory studies plasticity of neural structure and synaptic connectivity in adult animals following brain damage and during skill learning. Damage to the adult brain triggers a regenerative counter-reaction that remodels the connectivity of surviving neurons. Their research in rodent stroke models indicates that this neural remodeling response is exquisitively sensitive to behavioral changes, including compensatory behaviors that animals develop spontaneously and those induced by motor rehabilitative training. This work supports that the functional benefit of regenerative responses depends on them being driven into functionally beneficial directions by appropriate behavioral pressures. Left on their own, regenerative responses can be suboptimal and even detrimental to functional outcome. Additional research focuses on motor skill learning-induced plasticity of motor cortex and cerebellum and on the intercoordination of glial, vascular and neuronal plasticity. In addition to probing mechanisms of neural remodeling after brain damage, a goal is to better understand how to optimize behavior as “therapy” to improve functional outcomes.

Karunesh Ganguly, MD, PhD
University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Karunesh Ganguly is a neurologist and scientist. Clinically he specializes in neuorological rehabilitation and his research lab investigates the neurophysiological basis for recovery after stroke and brain injury. In his research, Ganguly studies new treatments for patients recovering from neurological conditions and injuries. He is specifically interested in developing brain-machine interfaces that have the potential to revolutionize the care of neurologically impaired patients by allowing electronic devices to interface directly with the brain. These devices could eventually allow paralyzed patients to recover limb function and help retrain the brain after injury. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications on this topic.

Dr. Ganguly is also a 2014 recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. He is also a recipient of the Doris Day Clinical Scientist Award and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award in Medicine.

José del R. Millán, PhD
University of Texas, Austin

Dr. José del R. Millán is a professor and holds the Carol Cockrell Curran Chair in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. He is also a professor in the Department of Neurology of the Dell Medical School.

He received a PhD in computer science from the Technical University of Catalonia, Barcelona, in 1992. Previously, he was a research scientist at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Ispra (Italy) and a senior researcher at the Idiap Research Institute in Martigny (Switzerland). He has also been a visiting scholar at the Universities of Berkeley and Stanford as well as at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley. Most recently, he was Defitech Foundation Chair in Brain-Machine Interface at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland (EPFL), where he helped establish the Center for Neuroprosthetics.

Dr. Millán has made several seminal contributions to the field of brain-machine interfaces (BMI), especially based on electroencephalogram signals. Most of his achievements revolve around the design of braincontrolled robots. He has received several recognitions for these seminal and pioneering achievements, notably the IEEE-SMC Nobert Wiener Award in 2011 and elevation to IEEE Fellow in 2017. In addition to his work on the fundamentals of BMI and design of neuroprosthetics, Dr. Millán is prioritizing the translation of BMI to end-users suffering from motor and cognitive disabilities. In parallel, he is designing BMI technology to offer new interaction modalities for able-bodied people.

Conor Walsh, PhD
Harvard University

Conor Walsh is the Gordon McKay Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the John A. Paulson Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, an Associate Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy & Athletic Training at Boston University. He is the is the founder of the Harvard Biodesign Lab, which brings together researchers from the engineering, industrial design, apparel, biomechanics, physical therapy and business communities to develop and translate new disruptive robotic technologies for augmenting and restoring human performance. This includes new approaches to the design, manufacture and control of wearable robotic devices and characterizing their performance through biomechanical and physiological studies so as to further the scientific understanding of how humans interact with such machines. Example application areas include, enhancing the mobility of healthy individuals, restoring the mobility of patients with gait deficits, assisting those with upper extremity weakness to perform activities of daily living and preventing injuries of workers performing physically strenuous tasks. His multidisciplinary research spans engineering, biology and medicine and has led to multiple high impact scientific papers. The soft exosuit technology is now commercially available in clinics for gait retraining through a collaboration with ReWalk Robotics and a lab spin-out, Verve, is launching a back assist product for workers performing physically strenuous tasks in industry. He has been invited to give talks at government, industry and academic events and has served on research review panels including the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. He is dedicated to training the next generation of biomedical engineering innovators and lab alumni have gone on to successful careers in academia, entrepreneurship, and high tech R&D positions in industry. Additionally, he co-founded the Soft Robotics Toolkit that serves as a platform the lab’s extensive STEM outreach activities. He is the winner of multiple awards including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the Early Academic Career Award in Robotics and Automation from the IEEE RAS, the National Science Foundation Career Award and the MIT Technology Review Innovator Under 35 Award.

William R. Wagner, PhD
University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Wagner is Director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine as well as Distinguished Professor of Surgery, Chemical Engineering, and Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. He serves as Scientific Director of the NSF Engineering Research Center on “Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials” and Chief Science Officer for the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine. He holds a B.S. (Johns Hopkins Univ.) and Ph.D. (Univ. of Texas) in Chemical Engineering. Professor Wagner is the Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of one of the leading biomaterials journals, Acta Biomaterialia. He is past-president of the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs (ASAIO) and past chairman of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS) Americas region. He is a fellow and former vice president of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and has also been elected a fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society, the International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering, TERMIS, and the American Heart Association. In 2006 he was selected to the “Scientific American 50”, the magazine’s annual list recognizing leaders in science and technology from the research, business and policy fields. His research has generated numerous patents (35 issued to date) and patent filings that have resulted in licensing activity, the formation of two companies, one of which initiated two clinical trials. Transfer of his group’s intellectual property has been recognized with University of Pittsburgh Innovator Awards in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2017 and 2018. Some of his awards include the Society for Biomaterials Clemson Award for Applied Research, the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award from the University of Pittsburgh, and the Senior Investigator Award from TERMIS-Americas. In 2017 he was inducted as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and in 2018 he was named Inventor of the Year by the Pittsburgh Intellectual Property Law Association. In 2019 Dr. Wagner was promoted to the rank of Distinguished Professor, the highest recognition available to University of Pittsburgh faculty. In 2020 the 4th edition of the best-selling biomaterials textbook, “Biomaterials Science” was published with Dr. Wagner taking over the lead editor role and in partnership with a new generation editorial team.  He was also named by Pittsburgh Business Times to its “Power 100” list (“people who have defined and are redefining the region, and who are leading and shaping their industries”). In 2021, Dr. Wager received the Founder’s Award with the Society for Biomaterials. Dr. Wagner’s research interests are in cardiovascular engineering with projects that address medical device biocompatibility and design, biomaterial development, and tissue engineering.