UC Davis Center for Neuroengineering & Medicine Aims to Improve Quality of Life for All

Neural Network graphic

With an increase in cognitive and neurological disorders such as dementia, stroke and Alzheimer’s, researchers worldwide are actively seeking pathways to help people restore neural function and improve their quality of life. The UC Davis College of Engineering announces the launch of the UC Davis Center for Neuroengineering & Medicine (NE&M), an integrated, multi-disciplinary effort that seeks to repair, restore and augment human capacity to benefit society.

According to the World Health Organization, about one-third of the population worldwide is affected by cognitive or neurological disorders in their lifetime. In addition, an estimated 40 million people worldwide require prosthetics.

UC Davis is uniquely situated to address these challenges as one of the few universities in the nation with a College of Engineering, School of Medicine and School of Veterinary Medicine. These assets are enhanced by outstanding neuroscience programs such as the Center for Neuroscience, the Center for Mind and Brain, the MIND Institute, as well as the California National Primate Research Center, one of only seven primate centers supported by the National Institutes of Health nationwide.

“UC Davis is distinctively positioned to leverage our varied expertise and resources, including basic science, engineering development and clinical practice. The ultimate goal of our new center is to help people,” said Sanjay Joshi, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and center co-director.

Center investigators will apply engineering principles to complement UC Davis’ existing expertise in neuroscience and medicine through highly interdisciplinary research, development and translation of engineered systems that interface with the brain and the body.

“The College of Engineering is proud to support research efforts in the Center for Neuroengineering & Medicine. Many of our faculty and students are interested in developing devices and other solutions for restoring neural function or extending human capacity beyond current limits,” said Jennifer Sinclair Curtis, dean of the College of Engineering. “The center will foster a greater understanding of the human nervous system, will develop new devices intended to improve quality of life for those with neurological disorders and ultimately change how people interact with engineered devices to restore or augment their functional capacity.”

Along with Joshi, Karen Moxon, professor of biomedical engineering and Carolynn Patten, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation, are center co-directors. The center’s scientists hail from multiple schools and colleges and bring deep expertise in robotics, prosthetics, neuroengineering, brain-computer interfaces, neural encoding, neural plasticity and neurorehabilitation, computational neuroscience and more.

As a growing hub for neuroengineering and medicine, the center’s objectives are to:

  • Build connections between researchers at UC Davis and other universities, industry, relevant federal agencies and the community
  • Lead convergent research, which deeply integrates knowledge, methods and expertise from different disciplines in order to solve vexing problems and address societal needs
  • Apply and translate discoveries that repair, restore and augment human capacity
  • Educate tomorrow’s neuroengineers

“We can make significant contributions not only in fundamental neuroengineering research, but in translating our discoveries to human use and ultimately societal benefit by collaborating with industry partners and entrepreneurs,” said Moxon.

The demand for solutions is high, with the global neurotechnology market forecasted to reach $19 billion by the end of 2026, according to the market research firm Market Expertz.

“Our research will soon allow us to predict the trajectory of motor recovery following stroke and other neurological conditions enabling us to maximize and accelerate the process of neurorehabilitation,” said Patten. “Such advances will change clinical practice and impact the lives of patients, improving their quality of life. Our center will serve as a springboard for innovation and help train future scientists in neuroengineering and medicine.”

The newly created UC Davis Center for Neuroengineering & Medicine grew from the UC Davis Neuroengineering and Medicine Initiative, including support from the Office of the Provost Faculty Hiring and Investment Program (HIP), Office of Research Interdisciplinary Research Catalyst (IRC) Program and College of Engineering.

For more information and to explore collaborations, please contact professors Joshi (maejoshi@ucdavis.edu), Moxon (moxon@ucdavis.edu), Patten (cpatten@ucdavis.edu), or Associate Director Gabriela Lee (gmlee@ucdavis.edu).

Learn more: https://neuroengineering.ucdavis.edu