007 – Chad Bouton

007 – Chad Bouton

Chad Bouton is the Center Head and Director of Bioelectronic Medicine (BEM) at the Feinstein Institute, the world’s leading research institute for this field. As an undergraduate student at Iowa State University (ISU), Bouton focused on electrical engineering. While in graduate school at ISU, he slowly gravitated towards physics and robotics, eventually leading to his first role in healthcare studying signal processing in the brain at Battelle. At Battelle, Bouton played a key role in developing neural coding methods that helped restored function in a paralyzed patient for the first time with a neural implant. He was recognized as “Inventor of the Year” and “Distinguished Inventor” by Battelle.

Top 3 Takeaways.

  1. The success of bioelectronic medicine will depend on how BEM will impact quality of life by identifying the needs of patients first.
  2. There are over 25 million people living in the world living with some form of significant paralysis.
  3. BEM has tremendous potential to impact both quality of life for individuals living with life-changing diseases as well as helping advance early detection methods for these diseases.

Show Notes.

  • [00:50] Chad’s original start in engineering which later led him to robotics and mechanics in grad school eventually leading to studying the brain signals of patients with paralysis.
  • [2:10] How to think about the differences between Brain Machine Interfaces and Bioelectronic Medicine.
  • [4:49] The potential of BEM to replace traditional pharmaceuticals being and the history of inflammatory reflexes.
  • [7:10] How far along are we from cracking “the neural code”?
  • [8:59] Theo Zanos’s research on “information extraction” from the Vagus Nerve that could help provide an indication of status or function of various organs in the human body.
  • [10:15] Why is BEM receiving a lower level of press compared to BCI?
  • [12:40] Why everything in BEM can be considered a feedback loop.
  • [14:07] Results from Chad’s research with BCI in restoring control for individuals dealing with paralysis.
  • [15:50] How training modalities for patients using devices will evolve in the coming years and why a focus on identifying mistakes instead of successes may help speed up the process.
  • [18:30] Where do the greatest difficulties lie with extracting data from the brain and then processing the data?
  • [21:10] Chad shares his thoughts on the potential for convergence of BCI and BEM.
  • [24:15] Targeting medical conditions is the greatest near-term need for BEM. It’s not a question of “if” but “when” we will have implants focused on enhancing quality of life.

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