2020 Bioelectronic Medicine Forum

On-Line via Zoom, April 7, 2020

Conference Moderators

James Cavuoto, Editor and Publisher, Neurotech Reports

James Cavuoto is editor and publisher of Neurotech Business Report and the founder of Neurotech Reports. He is the lead author of "The Market for Neurotechnology," and "The Market for Bioelectronic Medicine," two market research reports published by Neurotech Reports. Cavuoto was the founder of Micro Publishing Press, Inc., a publishing company that helped pioneer the market for electronic publishing, digital imaging, and computer graphics. He holds a degree in biomedical engineering from Case Western Reserve University, where he studied under pioneers in the field of functional electrical stimulation. He has also studied human factors engineering at University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Cavuoto spent three years as a member of the technical staff at Hughes Aircraft Company in Los Angeles, where he worked on simulation, training, and publication products produced for the U.S. Department of Defense. Cavuoto was an adjunct professor at Rochester Institute of Technology and the author of eight books on computer graphics, electronic publishing, and digital imaging. He is a member of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. He has authored a chapter in the textbook Neuromodulation (Elsevier, 2009), as well as articles in Neuromodulation, Journal of Neural Engineering, Medical Device Daily, IEEE Spectrum, MX magazine, and the International Journal of Medical Marketing. He is coauthor, with Jennifer French, of Bionic Pioneers: Brave Neurotech Users Blaze the Trail to New Therapies (Neurotech Press, 2014).

Jennifer French, Senior Editor and Associate Publisher, Neurotech Reports

Jennifer French is senior editor and associate publisher of Neurotech Reports. She is the founder of Neurotech Network, a nonprofit organization founded in Florida in 2003. Jennifer acquired her C6-7 incomplete spinal cord injury in 1998. Prior to her injury, she was recreationally active with such sports as canoeing, snowboarding/skiing, sailing, fly fishing, biking. After her injury, she still participates in all those activities. She is an active user of an FES system. Now residing in Tampa, FL, Jen is active in the community accessible sailing program, Sailing Alternatives as well as the national US Sailing, Sailors with Special Needs. French has helped launch successful divisions is such organizations as Bombardier Capital and PC Connection, Inc. With an MBA specializing in marketing & strategy, she works with for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, large and small, emerge into new markets, profile target customers and create and build systems to support sales efforts. She is the author of On My Feet Again (Neurotech Press, 2013), her personal story of rehabilitation using neurotechnology.

Jeremy Koff, Senior Contributing Editor, Neurotech Reports

Mr. Koff is senior contributing editor for Neurotech Reports and president of Colibri Partners Inc., a strategic and marketing consulting firm with a primary focus in the medical device sector. The company offers services related to market and risk analysis, clinical and technology assessments, business plan development, business/financial modeling, and market research. Mr. Koff has nearly 20 years of global experience in the medical device industry with companies including Advanced Bionics Corp., Boston Scientific, MiniMed Inc., Bioness Inc, and many others. His business plans have attracted tens of millions in start-up capital. Mr. Koff holds a Bachelor's degree in biology from Middlebury College, a Masters of Public Affairs from Indiana University, and an MBA from UCLA. He is an active classically-trained musician, supporter of the arts, and is a board member of the Fender Music Foundation.

Panelists and Presenters

Al Emondi, Ph.D., Program Manager, DARPA

Dr. Al Emondi joined DARPA in June 2017. His focus is on neurotechnology and human-machine interaction. His current work explores novel neural interface system architectures applicable to broad user populations and improving the performance of neural interfaces and their application potential through the use of third-wave artificial intelligence. Emondi came to DARPA from Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR) Atlantic, located in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was the chief technology officer (CTO) for SPAWAR Atlantic and served as deputy CTO to the SPAWAR HQ CTO for the Atlantic region. He also led the science and technology competency, which included personnel focused on basic and applied sciences, technology transition, and technology transfer. Before his tour at SSC Atlantic, he was an early pioneer for software-defined radio research initiatives at the Air Force Research Lab in Rome, New York. Emondi holds a Ph.D. degree in neuroscience and an M.S. in electrical engineering from Syracuse University, and a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Wilkes University.

Imran Eba, Partner, Action Potential Venture Capital

Imran is a partner at Action Potential Venture Capital in Cambridge, MA and invests in companies that are pioneering bioelectronic medicines and technologies. He represents Action Potential as a Board Member or Observer on the boards of Axon Therapies and SetPoint Medical. Before joining Action Potential, Imran was in the Worldwide Business Development group of GlaxoSmithKline working in a variety of business development and investing roles. Most recently, Imran led the establishment of and headed up the Investment Management practice at GlaxoSmithKline. The group was tasked with accessing technology and innovation external to GSK by making and managing investments in life science venture capital funds as limited partners and direct investments in biotechs made as part of GSK’s R&D collaborations. During his tenure the group led GSK’s commitments in excess of $200 million in a number of venture capital groups as well as participated in a number of biotech IPOs. Imran received his bachelor’s degree in finance from Concordia University in Montreal and has trained as a Canadian Chartered Accountant.

Manuel Lopez-Figueroa, Ph.D., Managing Director Bay City Capital

Manuel López-Figueroa is a Vice President at Bay City Capital and has been with the firm since July 2001. He specializes in evaluating investment opportunities with an emphasis on CNS. In addition, Dr. López is the Scientific Liaison for the Pritzker Neuropsychiatric Disorders Research Consortium, a collaborative research enterprise comprised of a group of leaders in psychiatry, neuroscience and genetics from Stanford University, University of Michigan, Cornell University and the Universities of California at Davis and Irvine. The consortium aims to discover the neurobiological and genetic determinants of mood disorders and schizophrenia with the goal to develop novel diagnostics and therapeutics. Dr. López is responsible for planning and directing all aspects of the consortium including strategy, R&D, legal (IP & contracts) and financial, to facilitate the commercialization of discoveries to fund additional research. Dr. López has over 15 years of experience in the field of Neuroscience, has won numerous awards during his academic research career, and has published extensively. He completed post-doctoral work at the University of Michigan and at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Dr. López received a PhD in Medicine and Surgery, and a MS in Molecular and Cell Biology from the Universities of Las Palmas and La Laguna, Spain, respectively.

Tony Natale, M.D., Managing Partner, Aperture Venture Partners

Tony Natale, blends his extensive business, investment, and company formation experience with a background in clinical medicine. Dr. Natale has invested across a number of therapeutic areas, including orthopedics, ENT, ophthalmology, GI, minimally invasive technologies, robotics, and women’s health. A committed board member, Dr. Natale works alongside entrepreneurs to build out management teams, establish effective corporate governance and bring operational discipline to R&D and early commercialization efforts. Dr. Natale was previously with Prism Ventures and MDS Capital where he made and managed investments in the medical technology sector. He has been a founder, director, and/or lead investor of several venture-backed life sciences companies, including Mako Surgical. Dr. Natale trained in General Surgery and Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Connecticut and Hartford Hospital and held clinical appointments in Hartford area hospitals before transitioning into entrepreneurial activities. He holds a B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Virginia, an M.D. from the University of Florida College of Medicine, and an M.B.A. from Yale University’s School of Management.

Nick Langhals, Ph.D., Neural Engineering Program Manager, NIH NINDS

Nick Langhals serves as program director for neural engineering within the Repair and Plasticity Cluster at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. He is heavily involved in both the BRAIN Initiative as well as the NIH SPARC program. Dr. Langhals received his B.S. in Engineering from Arizona State University. He received both an M.S. in Engineering as well as a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Michigan. Dr. Langhals has worked as a senior research engineer within the Center for Neural Communication Technology and also served as a consultant for Neuronexus Technologies, Biotectix, and Michigan State University. He was also a co-founder of Rhythm Solutions, a University of Michigan startup company focused on the development and commercialization of automated algorithms and technologies for the diagnosis and monitoring of atrial fibrillation. Prior to arriving at the NIH in 2015, Dr. Langhals served as a research assistant professor in the plastic surgery section of the department of surgery and assistant research scientist of biomedical engineering at the University of Michigan. Dr. Langhals served as co-director of the Neuromuscular Laboratory, which has developed a regenerative peripheral nerve interface to extract prosthetic control signals and restore lost sensation to amputees for the control of replacement upper and lower extremity prostheses. His previous research activities have spanned: neural engineering, muscle/nerve physiology, regenerative medicine, tissue engineering, muscle and nerve grafts and regeneration, tissue histology/immunohistochemistry, neuroprosthetics, neuromodulation, sensory restoration, cardiac electrophysiology, electrode design/fabrication, advanced materials, electrode modification using conductive polymers, signal processing and noise reduction, neural decoding algorithms, brain-computer interfaces, and drug delivery in the brain.

Marom Bikson, Ph.D., Professor of Biomedical Engineering, City College of New York

Marom Bikson is a Cattell Professor of Biomedical Engineering at The City College of New York of the City University of New York and co-Director of the Neural Engineering Group at the New York Center for Biomedical Engineering. The translational R&D activity of his group spans pre-clinical studies, computational models, device design and fabrication, regulatory activities, and clinical trials. Technologies developed by his group are in clinical trials in over 100 medical centers and include neuromodulation interventions for neuropsychiatric disorders, intra- and post-operative sensors, patient compliance tools, and surgeon training simulators. Dr. Bikson has published over 200 papers and book chapters and is inventor on over 30 patent applications. He is known for his work on brain targeting with electrical stimulation, cellular physiology of electric effects, and electrical safety. Dr. Bikson co-invented High-Definition transcranial Direct Current Stimulation, the first noninvasive, targeted, and low-intensity neuromodulation technology. Dr. Bikson consults for medical technology companies and regulatory agencies on the design, validation, and certification of medical instrumentation. Prior to becoming faculty at CUNY, Dr. Bikson was a research fellow at the University of Birmingham Medical School, U.K. and a Research Associate at Sontra Medical LLC, in Cambridge, Massachuesetts. Dr. Bikson received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, OH and a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.

Leigh Charvet, Ph.D., Director of MS Research, NYU Langone Medical Center

Dr. Leigh Charvet is the director of multiple sclerosis (MS) research and an associate professor of neurology at NYU Langone Health. She is a clinical neuropsychologist with an extensive background in characterizing and treating symptoms of MS and other neurological disorders that affect quality of life. Her work is focused on applying emerging technologies for therapeutic applications. She currently oversees a large tDCS research program, with ongoing trials delivering treatments at home using a telerehabilitation platform to target cognitive and motor impairments and symptoms such as fatigue, as well as a study using simultaneous tDCS with neuroimaging to better characterize the underlying mechanisms of therapeutic benefits. Prior to coming to NYU, Dr. Charvet was with the department of neurology at Stony Brook Medicine, and also previously worked for the CNS division of scientific affairs for Johnson & Johnson. She completed her doctorate at Vanderbilt University and fellowship at Stony Brook Medicine.

Courtney Lane, Ph.D., Principal, Anacapa Clinical Research

Courtney C. Lane, has more than a decade experience in neuromodulation device development and clinical trials.  She earned her B.S. in electrical and computer engineering from Rice University, cum laude. She obtained her Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Division of Health Sciences and Technology, where her thesis work focused on the neurophysiology of the auditory system. She then worked to develop hearing aid algorithms as a researcher at Rice University. Upon leaving academia, she was instrumental in the development of the deep brain stimulation program at Boston Scientific, where she worked on all aspects of the device development, from R&D and test designs to clinical trial designs and regulatory submissions. She then served as the director of Clinical Science and Strategy, overseeing a team of clinical scientists developing Boston Scientific Neuromodulation’s clinical trial portfolio. She also served as V.P. of clinical affairs for Axonics Modulation Technologies, where she was responsible for the design and execution of the clinical program. Dr. Lane founded Anacapa Clinical Research on the principle that small businesses and physicians deserve the same benefits of expertise and strategic thinking as large multi-national companies. She brings a wealth of knowledge as well as a can-do attitude to all of her endeavors.

Abhi Datta, Ph.D., Chief Technical Officer, Soterix Medical

Abhi Datta is chief technical officer at Soterix Medical in New York City. He has expertise in neural engineering, neuromodulation, brain stimulation, electrotherapy, drug delivery, biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, medical devices, and IP law. He received his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the City University of New York.

Emily Caporello, Ph.D., Project Manager, NINDS Small Business Programs, NIH

Emily Caporello oversees a portfolio of small business and BRAIN projects focused on the translation of neurological tools, technologies, and pharmaceuticals as a Scientific Project Manager in the NINDS Small Business Program. Prior to this position, Dr. Caporello co-founded two companies (CleverPet and MindX Corp.) and spent four years as a Science and Engineering Technical Advisor to neurotechnology programs at (DARP). Dr. Caporello received her B.S. in neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University, and her Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of California San Diego.

Erika Ross, Ph.D., Director, Applied Research, Abbott Neuromodulation

Erika is the director of Applied Research at Abbott Neuromodulation, leading applied research strategy, external partnerships, portfolio, and execution. Applied research includes computational modeling, pre-clinical, feasibility, and clinical safety trials that feed new products and indications within Abbott Neuromodulaiton. Prior to her role at Abbott, Erika was the neuroscience director at Cala Health, a Stanford Biodesign-incubated start-up that has been developing a noninvasive, digitally enabled neuromodulation solution for treating essential tremor. She has held roles of increasing leadership at Cala Health as the company completed development and prepared for commercialization. Prior to Cala Health, Erika held the roles of assistant professor of Neurologic Surgery and deputy director of the Surgical Device Innovation Accelerator at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Erika has a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s begree in molecular biology from the University of Denver. She holds a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, located in Rochester, MN. Her Ph.D. thesis was titled “Circuit mechanisms of deep brain stimulation: Preclinical strategies toward improving therapeutic outcome.”

Jacob Zabara, Ph.D., Founder, Jacob Zabara Family Foundation

Dr. Zabara has developed a new Brain ElectroDynamic Modulation (BEAM) technology based on his work with vagus nerve stimulation and LivaNova's NeuroCybernetic Prothesis, whch he invented at the launch of Cyberonics Inc. The Zabara Foundation is pursuing partnerships to fund therapies and clinical trials based on BEAM and related patents. BEAM is a result of the observations in animal and clinical research in VNS and neuromodulation, but takes neuromodulation in a new direction. Dr. Zabara was on the faculty at Temple University until 1996 with visiting appointments at Stanford University Hadassah Medical School and NASA-Ames. His education was at Johns Hopkins University in Physics and Biophysics, and the University of Pennsylvania in Physiology, where he was a fellow in the Institute of Neurological Sciences. His initial positions were at Dartmouth Medical School and the University of Pennsylvania.

Entrepreneur Presenters

Bryan McLaughlin, Ph.D., President, Micro-Leads, Inc.

Bryan McLaughlin is a highly motivated entrepreneur who has experience developing next-generation neuromodulation therapies. He manages commercialization and product development at Micro-Leads to address unmet clinical and market needs using a precision neuromodulation technologies. Dr. McLaughlin has served as n business development and bioelectronics engineering director, and performed technical diligence for venture capital medical device deals. He has a strong technical and commercialization background in Class III implantable medical devices, wireless devices, wearable devices, wireless communication and chip design, electrode technologies, packaging, and geolocation.

Daniel Powell, CEO, Spark Biomedical Inc.

Daniel Powell has more than 20 years experience developing and selling technology-based products and has served in leadership roles in upstream and downstream marketing, business development, strategic planning, and program management. Powell launched more than 18 medical device products during his career at St. Jude Medical (now Abbott) and Cyberonics (now LivaNova). He has a wide range of experience in the the neurological disorders space including movement disorders, psychiatric disorders, and epilepsy. Additionally, Powell has in-depth experience in interventional neuromodulation technology, both implanted and external, as well as other active implantable medical technology, bio monitoring, and disease management systems. Powell now leads his own startup, Spark Biomedical, and acts as an advisor for other startups in the industry.

Attila Borbath, Co-founder and CEO, Synergia Medical

Attila Borbath’s M.Sc. in Business Administration and Engineering from the UCLouvain followed by the CEMS Master’s in International Management naturally brought him to pave his professional way in a technological start-up in the finance sector for 10 years. In parallel, he obtained his airline transport pilot license. He was then convinced by the idea of of joining an innovative startup where he had the role of vice president of sales and marketing. In 2013, he moved to Synergia Medical, which he co-founded. Well traveled, multilingual, and energetic, Attila has developed remarkable management, entrepreneurial, marketing, and business development skills.

Ash Attia, CEO, Bionic Vision Technologies

Ash Attia has more than 30 years of senior executive management experience in implantable devices and biotechnology. Prior to BVT, Ash held the position of Vice President Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Israel, at TransMedics Inc. Ash also held Vice President and Managing Director roles within several other major Australian and International medtech organizations such as Thoratec, St Jude Medical, Micromed, Syncardia, Ventracor, Biotronik, SulzerMedica and Telectronics. Ash has extensive experience in medical technology commercialization, general management, research and development, marketing, market entry strategies, regulatory and reimbursement across multiple geographies (USA, Asia Pacific and Europe). He is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has extensive governance experience being a Non-Executive Director on the board of ASX-listed Company DorsaVi for over 10 years. Ash holds a Masters of Science in Biomedical and Electronics Engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology in conjunction with the University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey, USA. Ash also holds postgraduate qualifications in business and general management.

Brad Schmidt, Ph.D., CEO, Panaxium

Multinational entrepreneur and scientist Brad Schmidt is the CEO and co-founder of Panaxium, a bioelectronic medicine company focused on developing the world’s first iontronic platform to heal an injured or diseased human brain. The company’s objective is to create a seamless interface between a neural implant and the brain itself that will improve plasticity, direct precision healing, and resynchronization of network disfunctions that manifest as a wide range of neurological ailments. Panaxium’s team is currently working with several world-leading clinical neurology and neurosurgical research groups in Europe, North America, and Australia in order to apply iontronic devices that function by reading and stimulating using the true “ionic” language of neurons, to jointly define the future of medical treatments for the brain. Dr. Schmidt has a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Cornell University, where his research was focused on nanobiotechnology and integrated photonics. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Applied and Engineering Physics, also from Cornell. Prior to founding Panaxium, Dr. Schmidt worked in other startups and spin-outs in the analytical instruments and medical imaging spaces and was a management consultant with McKinsey & Company.

Blythe Karow, President and CEO, Evren Technologies

Blythe Karow has more than 20 years of experience in medical device strategy, product development, product launch, and marketing. She has worked in multiple medical device areas including neuromodulation, CRM, orthopedic, wound care, cardiovascular, image-guided interventions, women’s health, dermatology, spinal, and diagnostics. Her prior experience includes work both as a consultant and with medical device companies, ranging from startups to Fortune 100s, including Medtronic, J&J, and Boston Scientific. Karow holds an MBA from the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia, where she also gained a certificate in Design Thinking, and a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.

Pawel Soluch, Ph.D., CEO, Neuro Device Group SA

Pawel Soluch is founder and president of Neuro Device Group S.A. He is a neuropsychologist and neuronavigation expert and consultant at the Department of Neurosurgery, Medical University of Warsaw, completing his doctoral dissertation in the field of functional brain research. Soluch is a scholarship holder from the Foundation for Polish Science. He combines practical medical knowledge with scientific experience, successfully opening new possibilities for applying technology in medicine. He has been an initiator of numerous research and development projects subsidized by the Committee for Scientific Research, the National Center for Research and Development, and the European Union. Soluch has authored several dozen scientific posters, lectures, and publications on functional magnetic resonance imaging and psychophysiology.

Victor Pikov, Ph.D., CEO, Medipace, Inc.

Victor Pikov is CEO of a recently established Pasadena-based company, MediPace Inc., which is focused on the development of implantable stimulation-based therapies for the GI tract. Prior to that, for the past three years he worked at Galvani Bioelectronics and GSK Bioelectronics division, where he oversaw the development and validation of implantable pulse generators and stimulation leads (nerve cuffs and percutaneous electrodes) for several clinical applications. Prior to Galvani Bioelectronics, while at the Huntington Medical Research Institutes (2002-2015), Victor evaluated PNS and CNS neural interfaces in various models of chronic diseases, such as infertility, bladder paralysis, bladder spasticity/hyperreflexia, hearing and vision loss, tinnitus, obstructive sleep apnea, and obesity. His Ph.D. work at Georgetown University (1995-2000) was on the spinal control of bladder voiding and postdoctoral work at the California Institute of Technology (2000-2002) was on optogenetic viral vectors for neuronal stimulation. Victor holds several patent applications for noninvasive glucose measurement in the skin, neuromodulation for polycystic ovarian syndrome, and a microfluidic nerve cuff interface.

Pierre Wijdenes, Ph.D., CEO, Neuraura

Pierre co-founded Neuraura with his colleague Dr. Colin Dalton after completing his Doctorate in Biomedical Engineering at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary, Canada. He is passionate about translating deep tech and research into clinical practice that provides tangible and measurable outcomes for patients and the healthcare system. Pierre also brings expertise in integrating the user experience into Neuraura’s product development activities; he holds a MEng/MSc in Human Factors and Cognitive Engineering from the École Nationale Supériere de Cognitique (“ENSC”) in Bordeaux, France.

David Robinson, CEO, DeFuse Medical Inc.

David Robinson is an entrepreneur with extensive experience in establishing and growing high-tech enterprises making innovative, safety critical systems. David trained as an electrical engineer and worked for 18 years in the defense industry before taking up the management of a specialized manufacturing business. From there he moved to the medical device industry where he has worked for the last 12 years. David helped establish and was the first COO of Saluda Medical and he is now CEO and a founder of DeFuse Medical. David is deeply interested in IP-based businesses which can solve pressing human needs by the wise application of technology.

Eric Gordon, CEO, Atentiv, LLC

Mr. Gordon has a successful track record of identifying and bringing emerging medical and healthcare technologies into the clinic, industry and major market dominance. For more than 30 years, he has initiated, driven and managed through full development and/or full global commercialization seven startup companies in pediatric, adult and traveler's vaccines (Connaught Labs -now Sanofi-Pasteur, and Virogenetics); in combinatorial chemistry for drug discovery (ArQule); in clinical genomics (Ardais); in drug-delivery for endometriosis (Combinent); in HDL/CHD therapeutics (Cardium); and in behavioral health/ADHD diagnostics (BioBehavioral Diagnostics). He began his career with Arthur Andersen & Co., and served as VP and CFO at Sterling Drug. Eric holds business degrees from Syracuse University, the University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School.


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