February 9, 2017

UCM Receives Grant for Neural Prosthetics Project

University of Chicago Medicine has received a $2.4 million grant from the National Institute of Health to research and develop neural prosthetics that could restore partial eyesight to patients who have lost their vision.

The aim of the five-year project is to build a system of wireless brain implants that will transfigure images captured by a camera into electric signals that will manufacture partial visual recognition in the brain.  

The project does not expect to generate visual perception completely, but the hope is that a partial restoration will benefit patients who have lost their eyesight, according to a news release.

In its first two years, the project will focus on a “preclinical phase” in which the implants will be developed and surgical procedures refined. The following three years will constitute a clinical phase of testing the surgically implanted technology on human subjects.

“We want to create a stable, usable interface in which we stimulate the brain to induce perceptions of vision…. The next level of success would be that the subjects are able to use the devices with a portable system in a way that significantly improves their quality of life,” said the project’s principal investigator, Philip Troyk, who is also a professor of biomedical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology.