Some call it a major step forward for medicine. And a major step forward for engineering. The new field of neuroengineering combines bioengineering with the neurosciences. The University of Alabama at Birmingham launched a neuroengineering Ph.D. program in 2020, and now, faculty from the UAB School of Engineering and the departments of Neurobiology, Neurology and Neurosurgery in the Heersink School of Medicine have come together to establish the UAB Neuroengineering and Brain-Computer Interface Initiative.

Together, the fields of neuroengineering and brain-computer interfaces could have a tremendous impact on a number of neurologic, conditions such as stroke, neurodegenerative disorders, Parkinson’s disease, dementia and other brain diseases. One goal of brain-computer interfaces is to create devices that could restore function to a damaged nervous system by interacting with, interpreting and controlling neural signals to produce a positive response.

The NBCII, which is led by Lynn Dobrunz, Ph.D., professor of neurobiology, and Nicole Bentley, M.D., assistant professor of neurosurgery, has well over 100 members from across UAB.

The NBCII’s mission is to combine neurobiology, neuroimaging, neural interface technology and the latest developments in neuroscience with engineering and analytics to synergize and advance research, education and patient care at UAB and beyond.

Neuroengineering is one of the most innovative and fastest-growing areas of neuroscience research, education and funding. A major goal of the NBCII is to foster collaborations and expand UAB’s interdisciplinary research in this exciting new field.
,Lynn Dobrunz, Ph.D, director of the NBCII.

One active subset of the NBCII is the new Brain-Computer Interface Special Interest Group. The group, which has more than 50 members, brings together UAB neurosurgeons, neurologists, engineers and neuroscientists.

Each of these domains has unique data and analytic capabilities that, with collaboration, could yield insights not possible within each alone. Such insights will inform innovative ideas about brain function, clinical neuropathology, novel neuromodulation strategies and immediate applications for brain-computer interface development.
Bart Guthrie, M.D., professor of neurosurgery.

By combining faculty expertise across disciplines, this program will train a new generation of neuroengineers to advance understanding of neurodegenerative disorders and other brain diseases, and to develop novel therapeutics, neuroprosthetics and tools to restore lost brain function and improve patient outcomes.


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