Keynote Speakers Announced for Neuroprosthetics 2012

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Military and civilian research leaders will speak at the February 23 symposium organized by the BEI at Worcester Polytechnic Institute on development of next-generation implantable artificial limbs.

Jan. 12, 2011 - Col. Geoffrey Ling, MD, PhD, leader of prosthetics research at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and Hugh Herr, PhD, director of the biomechatronics group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will deliver the keynote addresses at Neuroprosthetics 2012, an international symposium organized by the Bioengineering Institute (BEI) at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). The symposium will take place on February 23, 2012, on the WPI campus in Worcester, Mass., and will bring together scientists, engineers, and clinicians to share their research and discuss the challenges that must be overcome to enable a new generation of artificial limbs that more closely replicate the function of natural limbs.

Col. Ling, program manager in DARPA’s Defense Science Office, is in charge of a range of initiatives that focus on biology and biotechnology, including the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program. Herr, a double-amputee, leads MIT’s efforts to develop advanced lower limb motorized prostheses. His team has developed a computer-controlled artificial knee and the world’s first powered prosthetic foot and ankle. Herr’s presentation at Neuroprosthetics 2012 is titled “The Importance of Neuromechanical Limb Models in the Design of Leg Prostheses and Orthoses.”

“We are pleased that leaders of the stature of Col. Ling and Professor Herr will be keynoting Neurporosthetics 2012,” said David Easson, ScD, BEI director, ad interim, and director of the WPI Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center. “Their insights and experience will help set the tone for what we expect will be an outstanding day of scientific and engineering presentations and discussions.”

Neuroprosthetics 2012 is the third international symposium organized by the BEI and its Center for Neuroprosthetics. The theme for this year’s symposium is “Neural Interfaces as Enablers for Advanced Prosthetic Function,” with presentations to focus on various aspects of the science and engineering needed to create delicate yet durable connections between the brain and an advanced prosthetic device.

With principal funding from the Military Amputee Research Program of the U.S. Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), the Center for Neuroprosthetics at the BEI has built strategic partnerships with the University of Utah, the University of Central Florida, and WPI faculty to focus on solving some of the most complex problems facing next-generation prosthetics. More than 50 researchers from clinical, scientific and engineering disciplines, including regenerative biology, tissue engineering, surface science and nanotechnology, orthopedic surgery, and biomedical signal processing, are engaged in work related to neuroprosthetics through the BEI collaborations.

“Developing advanced prostheses that can successfully integrate with the body and be controlled by the nervous systems is a difficult challenge,” said Christopher Lambert, PhD, research associate professor and the BEI's associate director for research, ad interim. “That’s why this symposium is so helpful. It will give people who are working at the leading edge of the various disciplines involved in this research a unique opportunity to spend a day together to share ideas and information, which in turn will help move the field forward.”

For more information about the symposium, visit

About the Bioengineering Institute:

The WPI Bioengineering Institute is an interdisciplinary organization blending academic, industry, and government partnerships to foster research and development of innovative, life sciences-based technologies. Scientists, engineers, and clinicians work through the BEI to address important research challenges in several major areas of medical technology and healthcare, including neuroprosthetics, tissue engineering, regenerative biology and bioprocessing. Learn more at:

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI was one of the nation's first engineering and technology universities. Its 14 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, business, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. WPI's talented faculty work with students on interdisciplinary research that seeks solutions to important and socially relevant problems in fields as diverse as the life sciences and bioengineering, energy, information security, materials processing, and robotics. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through the university's innovative Global Perspective Program. There are more than 25 WPI project centers throughout North America and Central America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe.

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