Special Neural Engineering Seminar: Gene Y. Fridman (Friday Oct. 5 at 2 pm)
Title: Safe Direct Current Neural Implant
Speaker: Gene Y. Fridman, PhD. Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University, Departments of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering
When: Friday Oct. 5 2018 at 2 pm
Where: CCNY Center for Discovery and Innovation, 4th floor seminar room ( CDI 4.352)
Contact: Greg Kronberg (firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-650-8876) for access to CDI building
Safe Direct Current Stimulation (SDCS) technology holds the promise for the creation of a new class
of neural implants that could expand our ability to interact with the human nervous system.
Pacemakers, cochlear implants, and essentially all other chronically implanted neuroelectronic
prostheses rely on charge-balanced, biphasic pulses to excite neural or muscular activity without driving
electrochemical reactions that would otherwise liberate toxic substances at the metal electrode-saline
interface. While these devices are effective at stimulating the target neurons, inhibition of neural
activity and further expansion into alternate modes of neural control have been more challenging.
Many neurologic deficits, such as balance disorders, inability to control micturition, tinnitus, chronic
pain, psychiatric disorders, and epilepsy could benefit from a neural implant capable more extensive
control of neural activity. In contrast to the brief biphasic stimulus pulse used to evoke an action
potential in a target neuron, ionic direct current (iDC) delivered by an extracellular electrode has a
graded effect on its membrane potential. As the result, iDC is capable of increasing or decreasing the
probability of action potential generation. Excitation delivered this way results in an increase in neural
activity that maintains its natural stochastic firing properties. In addition to being able to increase,
decrease, or altogether block spiking behavior, this neuromodulation mechanism can control the speed
of action potential propagation, modulate sensitivity to synaptic input, and in principle alter synaptic
weights in a neural network by modulating spike timing dependent plasticity.
I will address our latest efforts toward developing the SDCS implant capable of delivering iDC to
neural targets and the application of this new technology for the treatment of chronic peripheral pain
and for the treatment of the vestibular balance disorders.
Dr. Gene Fridman is a Biomedical and Electrical engineer. He is an Associate Professor in the department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery in the School of Medicine and Biomedical and Electrical Engineering departments in the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. After receiving his Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University in 1995, he worked in the aerospace and then in the biomedical industry as a software and systems engineer before deciding to engage in an academic career. He received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering specializing in neural recording and stimulation and micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) from UCLA in 2006. Since 2000 he has held an on-going consulting and collaborative relationship with biomedical engineering companies in research and design of neural stimulation and recording devices. He contributed to research and development of spinal cord, retinal, cortical, cochlear, and vestibular neural implants.