(Invited) The Biotic/Abiotic Interface between Neuromodulation Electrodes and the Peripheral Nervous System

Tuesday, 3 October 2017: 09:05
National Harbor 11 (Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center)
M. B. Wolfson (NIH/NIBIB)
This introductory talk will provide background on the anatomy and biological environment of the peripheral nervous system and spinal cord. Building from this foundation, a variety of approaches to build electrical interfaces capable of interacting with tissue will be reviewed. These interfaces typically fall into four major categories: metal alloys, conductive inorganic non-metals, conductive polymers, and capacitive transduction through a dielectric. The requirements for recording neuronal activity are distinct from those for stimulating activity due to the challenges of working in an ionic environment. Information in the nervous system is represented not by the presence of electrons and holes, but by the physical transport of elemental ions within and between cells. By understanding the limitations, constraints, and tradeoffs of current approaches in context of the biological environment, it is possible to envision new opportunities to increase the reliability, safety, and functionality of tissue interfaces.

The remainder of the talk will provide insight into the National Institutes of Health (NIH), its various funding opportunities, and how grant applications are evaluated and funded. Although all federal funding agencies serve the same fundamental purpose, the mission of each is substantially different, which directly shapes its operations and processes. After a “big picture” of NIH funding is presented, a deep dive will be provided on the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and the Office of Strategic Coordination’s Common Fund. Several programs within those organizations will be described, including: Advanced Biomaterials, Implantable Medical Devices, and Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC). While the concept of peer review is familiar to all, the NIH implementation of this process has unique nuances that will be described. Finally, suggestions will be provided for investigators on how to best engage with the NIH in pursuit of addressing unmet medical needs.