2014-15 Scientific Focus: 

Advanced Applications for Networked Neuro Devices 

This year, interdisciplinary student teams will work in parallel, to understand and cultivate product designs around CWRU's next-generation neuro modulation platform: The Networked Neuro Prosthesis (NNP). Student teams will each start with a unique application for the NNP (ranging from obesity, to orthopaedics, to vagus nerve applications), building upon their emerging understanding of the clinical and commercial opportunities presented by the NNP approach. Each team's product concept will be developed and evaluated for potential clinical applications, intellectual property development and a viable business case.

The Northern Ohio region is home to a broad array of world class research in the field of neuromodulation. This includes cutting edge developments led by the region's Academic Research Institutions and Medical Centers, including the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University, The Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation Center the Advanced Technology Platform Center at the Veterans' Administration Hospital in Cleveland and a growing community of promising privately-held for-profit enterprises, that include NDI Medical, Intelect Medical, Neuros Medical, Synapse Biomedical and others.

During this academic year, National Academies of Science member and Functional Electrical Stimulation Director P. Hunter Peckham, one of the developers of the NNP, will provide students with the scientific fundamentals of contemporary and emerging approaches to nerve stimulation systems, building an understanding of the functional parameters and state of the science. His lectures will also help students gain an understanding of the evolution of the NNP platform, which was the focus of a recently awarded multi-million dollar commercialization program funded by the Ohio Third Frontier Commission and a broad array of commercial and research partners.

As with all scientific focus in FUSION, our goal is to bring deep context to a given scientific field by connecting with experts, practitioners and entrepreneurs to gain a hands-on understanding of the challenges faced when bringing promising new technology to market.

Some unique areas of focus presented by this scientific field include:

Method patents and surgical methods - many discoveries in this field relate to the therapeutic implications of stimulating a precise anatomical target, but provide little patentable IP around the device (leads, pulse generators) or system dynamics (e.g., firmware, implantable energy systems) required to create a marketable product. Student teams will learn to tackle this challenge by examining multiple commercialization strategies and analyzing partnering opportunities to develop/acquire competitive component technologies.

Product Design and Innovation - Because the NNP can serve a very broad array of applications, student teams will, by necessity, have to develop needs analyses, acceptance criteria and device requirements for their product. Importantly, needs and value propositions from a myriad of lenses will be considered: patient needs, payers, and medical practitioners.  This work will drive opportunity analysis and cultivation, building the case for intellectual property protection, business case creation and pre-clinical development.

Innovation: Integration and Systems - notwithstanding the world class research behind them, few scientific innovations will result in a fully integrated product. The commercialization of neuromodulation products requires a particularly creative focus on value chain, component product development and interdisciplinary approaches to designing and engineering a complete product.

Developing pre-clinical proof of concept - the path to market for these often invasive devices will typically involve extensive regulatory review and clinical demonstration. Before this can happen, though, the path to trials involves creative, persistent approaches to developing early indications of safety and efficacy in humans. Students will interact with clinicians and IRB members to understand workable strategies to cultivating early data that can support more advanced (and costly) clinical data acquisition.


2009-10 Scientific Focus: Genomics and Genetic Diagnostics

2011-12 Scientific Focus: Neuromodulation and Nerve Stimulation Technologies

2012-13 Scientific Focus - Advanced Energy Technologies & Systems

2013-14 Scientific Focus - Neuro Device Platform Technology Innovation

2014-15 Scientific Focus - Advanced Applications in Networked Neuro Devices

Fusion Disciplines







Science - the state of knowing; knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding.