National Center for Adaptive Neurotechnologies Hosts Grand Opening to Showcase Innovation

First-in-the-nation facility focused entirely on adaptive neurotechnologies

ALBANY, NY. (September 29, 2015) – The National Center for Adaptive Neurotechnologies (NCAN) held its grand opening today at the New York State Department of Health (DOH) David Axelrod Institute, amidst a group of the area's leading neurologists and scientists who came to see the facility's latest research.

NCAN was recently established at the DOH's Wadsworth Center in Albany with a 5-year, $6.5 million grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health. The Center is the first in the world to focus entirely on adaptive neurotechnologies. This rapidly growing research works toward improving the diagnoses and treatment of stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, ALS, chronic pain, and many other conditions.

"We are delighted to show what we are doing here at NCAN to bring relief to people who suffer from neurological conditions," said Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker. "The research coming out of this facility has the potential to improve the lives of people stricken by these diseases that often rob them of their ability to communicate and move. This center gives patients and their families hope and the promise of a better future."

As the hub of a multifaceted research and development program, NCAN works closely with collaborators at major biomedical research institutions throughout the United States and beyond. New technologies developed by the Center are already contributing to patient care in hospitals and clinics. For instance, people with spinal cord injuries or other disorders are improving their ability to walk using a new non-invasive rehabilitation therapy that restores more normal spinal reflexes through an interactive computer-based training procedure.

Additionally, the Center and its partners have designed a non-invasive brain-computer interface (BCI) system that enables people paralyzed by ALS to use brain signals to communicate with others. BCI technology works by translating brain waves into text through computer software. They have also invented a new method for using recorded signals to map brain functions that reduces the duration and increases the safety of neurosurgical procedures. These important advances are now helping patients and are also generating intellectual property in the form of patents and licensing agreements.

Although NCAN was formally established in July, the work on neurotechnologies has flourished at Wadsworth for more than 30 years under Dr. Jonathan R. Wolpaw and Dr. Gerwin Schalk, who are the Center Director and Deputy Director, respectively. Their work has attracted international attention and recently helped bring a rapidly growing Austrian biotechnology firm, g.tec Medical Engineering, to Albany.

"We're very happy to have this opportunity to celebrate the creation of our new Center," said Dr. Wolpaw. "It is the culmination of 35 years of work at the Wadsworth Center that began as basic science and is now translating its discoveries into effective new therapies for people with a wide variety of devastating neurological disorders. The new Center will advance this work and accelerate its clinical and commercial dissemination."

Photos from today's event are attached.