Recognizing Our Roots

by James Cavuoto, editor

In the 20-plus years that we’ve been publishing this newsletter, we’ve devoted considerable coverage to emerging and established neurotech firms, and the entrepreneurs and investors who’ve made those concerns successful. Where we may not have devoted enough ink—or shall we say pixels, since we ceased mailing printed copies in 2023—is to the scientific and clinical investigators who have moved the neurotechnology field forward. Most of these researchers don’t reap the financial rewards that their colleagues in industry get once their startup gains investors, regulatory approval, commercial sales, and then exits via an IPO or acquisition. But make no mistake, their scientific efforts have played a major role in the overall success that the neurotechnology industry has achieved to date.

So with this in mind, and with the risk that we will inevitably miss some names that merit calling out, we’d like to devote the rest of this space to some key neurotech researchers who have recently been recognized by their peers.

At the recent meeting of the North American Neuromodulation Society in Las Vegas last month, the organization presented awards to several investigators, including a few who have helped us by being a source of information on an article we’ve published or have spoken at one of our conferences.

Peter Konrad from the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute at West Virginia University received the NANS Distinguished Service Award. Peter has been an active mentor and has served in key roles at NANS, including the i3 pre-conference workshop that we have helped produce. Helen Mayberg from the Ichan Shool of Medicine at Mount Sinai received the organization’s Innovator Award for clinical research. In the years following the BROADEN clinical trial cessation, Helen made numerous personal sacrifices to keep the vision of DBS for treatment-resistant depression alive. And she has been a generous supporter of this editor and other reporters working on stories related to her work.

Dominique Durand from Case Western Reserve University received the Innovator Award for engineering research. Although he joined the CWRU faculty after this editor graduated, Dominique has been an informal advisor and tutor for this publication and he spent many years as editor of the Journal of Neural Engineering. Prasad Shirvalkar from UC San Francisco received the Kumar New Investigator Award from NANS. Prasad has been an extremely valuable participant at our Neurotech Leaders Forum, and he himself also received the Gold Electrode Award for Neurotechnology Researcher of the Year from Neurotech Reports.

Another key neurotechnology researcher who has received recognition recently is Ranu Jung from the University of Arkansas, who was named Ernst & Young Innovator of the Year in 2023. When she was a professor at Arizona State University, she helped this publication get up to speed on key technology topics in our early years. And we were pleased to see that Hubert Lim from the University of Minnesota was recently selected as the director of the Earl Bakken Medical Device Center. Hubert has been a frequent participant in Neurotech Reports’ conferences and has helped others navigate the transition from research to commercial success.

So with apologies to any neurotech researchers we may have missed, we’d like to say congratulations and thank you to these and the many other neurotech investigators who have help move the field—and our publications—forward.