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  Biomedical Neuroprosthetics

   School of Engineering

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  Prof Patrick Degenaar  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

This PhD will perform research into cutting-edge implantable biomedical devices for the brain – also known as neuroprosthetics.  Our implants use an advanced form of genetic enhancement to photosensitise the brain tissue so that we can stimulate it with different wavelengths of light as well as electrical pulses.  These devices utilise advanced electronics, photonics, signal processing and device physics to create systems which can treat neurological diseases.   

Depending on student background and interest, the PhD study can take a number of different directions: 

  1. Implantable microelectronics: developing advanced low-power circuitry to be implemented on CMOS chips for driving our implants 
  2. Advanced device fabrication: Using cleanroom techniques and optoelectronic assembly to make microdevices to be inserted into the brain. 
  3. Advanced signal processing: To allow for closed-loop control of neural implants in the brain according to the background brain activity. 

Our ultimate aim is to utilise this technology to restore sight to those blinded by diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and glaucoma.  Many groups have tried this to date with disappointing results.  But we believe that with a sufficiently advanced brain interface, we can restore sight sufficiently to allow blind people to navigate and find key objects and people. 

The work would be carried out in our exciting neuroprosthesis lab with an interdisciplinary team of post-doctoral staff and PhD students.  We have a vibrant research culture with regular meetings and debates.  We are also friendly and welcoming of people from many diverse backgrounds.  The lab is also part of the wider Newcastle University Centre of Excellence in Biomedical Engineering. 

The prerequisite would be a 1st class or perhaps an upper second-class first degree with an excellent final year project or a merit/distinction on an MSc program.  Background degrees can be in Electronic Engineering, Computer Science, Biomedical Engineering or Physics.  But we also consider people from other forms of engineering or related physical sciences. 

Newcastle University is committed to being a fully inclusive Global University which actively recruits, supports and retains colleagues from all sectors of society.  We value diversity as well as celebrate, support and thrive on the contributions of all our employees and the communities they represent.  We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and encourage applications from everybody, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, age, disability, gender identity, marital status/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, as well as being open to flexible working practices. 


B Zaaimi, et al. “Closed-loop optogenetic control of normal and pathological network dynamics” Nature Biomedical Engineering (2022)  

Dimitrios Firfilionis, et al. “A Closed-Loop Optogenetic Platform” Frontiers in Neuroscience Sept 2021; 15: 718311.  doi: 10.3389/fnins.2021.718311 

Zhenyang Hou, et al. “A scalable data transmission scheme for an optogenetic visual prosthesis” Journal of Neural Engineering  Volume 17, Number 5 055001, DOI: 10.1088/1741-2552/abaf2e 

Reza Ramezani, et al.  "On-Probe Neural Interface ASIC for Combined Electrical Recording and Optogenetic Stimulation" IEEE TBCAS, 2018 Jun;12(3):576-588.  doi: 10.1109/TBCAS.2018.2818818. 

Application enquiries:   

Prof, Patrick Degenaar 

[Email Address Removed]    

Engineering (12) Medicine (26) Physics (29)
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