Miguel Nicolelis



Miguel Nicolelis, M.D., Ph.D., is the Duke School of Medicine Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience, Duke University Professor of Neurobiology, Biomedical Engineering, and Psychology and Neuroscience, and founder of Duke’s Center for Neuroengineering. He is the Founder and Scientific Director of the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute for Neuroscience of Natal. Dr. Nicolelis is also founder of the Walk Again Project, an international consortium of scientists and engineers, dedicated to the development of an exoskeleton device to assist severely paralyzed patients in regaining full body mobility.

Dr. Nicolelis has dedicated his career to investigating how the brains of freely behaving animals encode sensory and motor information. As a result of his studies, Dr. Nicolelis was first to propose and demonstrate that animals and human subjects can utilize their electrical brain activity to directly control neuroprosthetic devices via brain-machine interfaces (BMI).

Over the past 25 years, Dr. Nicolelis pioneered and perfected the development of a new neurophysiological method, known today as chronic, multi-site, multi-electrode recordings. Using this approach in a variety of animal species, as well as in intra-operative procedures in human patients, Dr. Nicolelis launched a new field of investigation, which aims at measuring the concurrent activity and interactions of large populations of single neurons throughout the brain. Through his work, Dr. Nicolelis has discovered a series of key physiological principles that govern the operation of mammalian brain circuits.

Dr. Nicolelis’ pioneering BMI studies have become extremely influential, since they offer potential new therapies and assistive technologies for patients suffering from severe levels of paralysis, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy. Today, numerous neuroscience laboratories in the US, Europe, Asia, and Latin America have incorporated Dr. Nicolelis’ experimental paradigm to study a variety of mammalian neuronal systems. His research has influenced basic and applied research in computer science, robotics, and biomedical engineering.

Dr. Nicolelis is a member of the French and Brazilian Academies of Science and has authored over 200 manuscripts, edited numerous books and special journal publications, and holds three US patents. He is the author of Beyond Boundaries: The New Neuroscience of Connecting Brains with Machines and How It Will Change Our Lives; and most recently co-authored The Relativistic Brain: How it Works and Why it Cannot be Simulated by a Turing Machine.


Todd Kuiken

Director, Center for Bionic Medicine
Director, Amputee Services, Rehabilitation institute of chicago
Associate Dean (Academic Affairs) & Professor, Feinberg School of Medicine
Professor, Department of Surgery, Feinberg School of Medicine
Northwestern University


Todd A. Kuiken, MD, PhD, is the Director of the Center for Bionic Medicine and of Amputee Services at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. He is also a Professor in the Departments of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), Surgery, and Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University.

At the Center for Bionic Medicine, Dr. Kuiken leads an interdisciplinary team of clinicians, research scientists, engineers, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students. The goal of his research center is to improve the function and quality of life for individuals with amputation and other physical disabilities through innovative technology and surgical procedures. He is considered a leading expert in the care of amputees and is well-known for his research on Targeted Muscle Reinnervation (TMR), a procedure he co-developed with his colleague Dr. Gregory Dumanian, MD, of Northwestern. During TMR, enhanced myoelectric prosthesis control is attained via additional control sites, which are created through a series of novel nerve transfers. The signals from these residual nerves, which remain after amputation, are detected and processed, leading to more intuitive prosthesis control.

Dr. Kuiken received his BS degree in biomedical engineering from Duke University, Durham, NC, in 1983, his PhD. degree in biomedical engineering from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, in 1989, and his MD degree from the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago in 1990. He completed his residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago in 1995.


Penney Gilbert

Assistant Professor
Institute for Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering
Department of Biochemistry

Donnelly Centre for Cellular & Biomolecular Research
University of Toronto

Penney Gilbert, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) and holds cross-appointments in the Department of Biochemistry and the Donnelly Centre at the University of Toronto. She holds a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Endogenous Repair. Penney obtained her BSc (1999) from Haverford College and her PhD (2006) from the University of Pennsylvania in the area of cell biology and mammary oncogenesis. Following this, she switched research focus and became a postdoctoral fellow with Helen Blau at Stanford University in California working in the field of skeletal muscle stem cells under the support of a NIH Pathway to Independence K99/R00 Award.

In 2012, Dr. Gilbert was recruited to the University of Toronto where her research focuses on skeletal muscle endogenous repair. Her team engineers and studies three-dimensional models of human skeletal muscle, and explores muscle stem cell mechanobiology with the goal of identifying signaling pathways that can be modified to boost the function of skeletal muscle stem cells in the body. Overall, her research aims to obtain a better understanding of skeletal muscle health and degeneration so that therapeutic advances can be made to restore muscle strength.