A team that includes two UW Electrical Engineering faculty members is one of 10 selected to receive financial support to participate in the first phase of the global healthcare company GSK’s Bioelectronics Innovation Challenge. The objective of the competition is to develop an implantable wireless device for use in bioelectronic medicine, which aims to treat disease by controlling electrical impulses that travel along the nerves.
The team, led by EE Adjunct Associate Professor Chet Moritz, an Associate Professor in the Departments of Rehabilitation Medicine and Physiology & Biophysics, includes EE Associate Professor Joshua Smith, Applied Mathematics Acting Assistant Professor Bingni Brunton and Physiology & Biophysics Associate Professor Greg Horwitz.
To fund the work of the teams, a total of $5 million in funding will be distributed in two phases. As part of Phase 1, 10 teams were selected from 25 applicants worldwide to receive up to $200,000 each to fund the development of detailed plans for the implantable wireless device. After six months, the teams will report their progress and three teams will be selected to advance to Phase II, receiving up to $1 million per team. The first team to generate a wireless device that meets the contest criteria will receive a $1 million prize.
According to GSK, “We believe bioelectronic medicines could allow us to address some diseases that have so far been untreatable, and others with greater precision and fewer side effects than with conventional molecular medicines.”
GSK first announced the Bioelectronics Innovation Challenge in late 2013, with the goal of advancing research in bioelectronics medicine. As many functions of the human body are controlled by electrical signals that travel along the nerves, the implantable wireless device that is developed will theoretically be able to stimulate and block neural signals that control specific functions and organs.
“Such a device not only will solve a major hurdle for bioelectronic medicines research, but will also accelerate the technology development that may go into future bioelectronic medicines and be at the centre of new ventures,” according to GSK.
Congratulations to Moritz, Smith, Brunton and Horwitz!