Department of Neurosurgery


Lifespan, Brown research aims to restore limb function to paralyzed veterans

Borton, Carney-affiliated faculty member and associate professor of engineering, together with Carney-affiliated faculty member Jared Fridley, a neurosurgeon and director of Spine Surgery Outcomes Research Laboratory at The Warren Alpert Medical School, presented groundbreaking research on this topic to the U.S. Senate on April 18 and to the U.S. House of Representatives on April 19 for DARPA Demo Day, an initiative designed to help politicians learn more about the work DARPA supports. Borton and Fridley were one of only 10 groups chosen to do so from DARPA’s portfolio of hundreds of projects…

In 2018, DARPA became interested in the spinal cord interfacing research that Borton’s lab had developed. This ignited an exciting conversation: could Borton’s lab move from mapping sensory perception to actually ‘bridging the gap’ in spinal cord injury, creating a technology that could reconnect the brain to the dormant spinal circuits below an injury site, thereby restoring movement, sensation and function?

Five years later, Borton and Fridley, who came onboard as the project’s lead clinical investigator, are much closer to an answer. Their Intelligent Spine Interface implant is in clinical trials with participants from the New England region, and co-supported by the Providence VA Medical Center…

Although Borton and Fridley weren’t aware of it at the time, their DARPA Demo generated not just national interest, but international interest as well. A week later, DARPA shared that their demo had been part of a private presentation to President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea during his visit to the U.S.

‘It was such an honor to hear that our work was being shared with world leaders and decision-makers who can prioritize efforts to help those with neurological disease and injury,’ Borton said.

‘It is truly humbling that our ISI project has generated so much excitement,’ added Fridley.

As to when more information about the progress of the ISI implant clinical trials will move from poster to paper, that time is fast approaching. Fridley and Borton are submitting a version of their research findings for publication this summer.

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Featured Faculty

Jared S. Fridley, MD

Associate Professor of Neurosurgery
Director, Spinal Outcomes Laboratory
Director, Center for Innovative Neurotechnology for Neural Repair (CINNR Lab)

David Borton, PhD

Assistant Professor of Engineering, School of Engineering and Carney Institute, Brown University
Biomedical Engineer, Department of Veterans Affairs

Featured Laboratory

Center for Innovative Neurotechnology for Neural Repair