New Initiative in Neural Engineering at Rutgers

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The application of advanced research to address peripheral nerve regenerative medicine was the focus of the Rutgers University Neuro-Engineering Group’s inaugural Industry Showcase recently at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. More than 20 representatives of biomedical device companies participated in the event, which was held in the Life Sciences Building on Busch Campus in Piscataway March 12 and hosted by The New Jersey Center for Biomaterials.

Rutgers President Robert Barchi opened the showcase and welcomed the visitors from industry and participating Rutgers scientists.

“I know there are significant opportunities for the development of innovative neuro-engineering therapies,” Barchi said. “New Jersey can be a leader in this development both because of the concentration of forward-looking companies in our state and because of all the academic resources Rutgers brings to the table.”

Richard Caruso, founder of Integra Life Sciences, based in Plainsboro, N.J., was the featured guest speaker. He was followed at the podium by Christopher Molloy, Rutgers senior vice president for research and economic development. Next were individual scientific presentations Rutgers faculty members, who detailed their research programs and laboratory facilities. Industry representatives were able to engage in one-on-one follow-up discussion with the faculty members to explore possible collaborative research projects.

This initiative is being led by Joachim Kohn, professor of chemistry and chemical biology and director of the New Jersey Center for Biomaterials. Kohn is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and an expert in academia-industry interactions.

“This is a bold experiment, designed to create an enhanced, faculty-driven path for the formation of partnerships with industry with the goal of translating research advances into products and therapies that improve our healthcare,” Kohn said.

The mission of the Rutgers University Neuro-Engineering Group is to facilitate translational research for the development of devices that enhance central and peripheral nerve regeneration, restoration of motor and sensory function, and transmission of neural signals by brain-computer interfaces. While focusing on biomaterials science and the engineering disciplines, RUNEG will bring together researchers from neuroscience, chemical biology, imaging, stem-cell technology, nanotechnology, and computational modeling, as well as physicians.

RUNEG will foster collaborative and interdisciplinary research efforts to enhance understanding of the multidisciplinary field of neural engineering, devices, and cellular therapies to enable the translation of technology from bench to bedside. The group will seek active participation from the members of the biomedical device and pharmaceutical industries to accelerate the transfer and commercialization of inventions and technologies into clinically useful products and therapies through streamlined steps.

An important objective of RUNEG is to provide cutting-edge training and education, in the form of seminars and a yearly workshop, delivered by world-class investigators within RUNEG as well as invited speakers who lead their fields. These events will enhance learning, communication, and collaboration for neuroscientists in industry and academia.

More information, including a list of participating scientists and links to their websites, is posted on the RUNEG website.

Industry inquiries can be directed to Prof. Kohn,, and Louli Kourkounakis, 732-445-0488, ext. 40001, or cbmfrontdesk(at)dls(dot)rutgers(dot)edu.

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