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Interfacing computer with brain to restore vision

Two major research projects led by Australia’s Monash University will progress into critical new stages of commercial development, following the announcement of federal funding.

According to a recent press release, Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt has pledged almost AU$ 2 million to these projects under the new Frontier Health and Medical Research Program.

The Funding

The program will invest AU$ 240 million over four years to support innovative ideas and discoveries with great potential for transformative impact on health care.

The funding will support 10 research projects for one year with AU$ 1 million each to advance their technologies, ready to put forward a detailed plan for potential stage two investments.

Stage two will support the best two applicants with up to AU$ 100 million each over five years.

The University’s President and Vice-Chancellor shared that their University was the only institution awarded two projects, which indicates the depth and scale of the University’s research.

The Projects

The two projects include a ground-breaking technology that interfaces computers to the brain for bionic vision; and an innovative public health program against mosquito-borne diseases.

These results demonstrate the University’s global footprint and capacity to deliver high quality research and innovation that has an impact in communities that need it most.

Large-scale projects like these that combine research and its practical application can have significant implications for local and international communities.

The University is grateful for the recognition given to them by the Federal Government, particularly as a global leader in health science and technology innovation.

The two projects will be receiving almost AU$ 1 million each.

Cortical Frontiers: Commercialising Brain-Machine Interfaces

The Director of the Monash Vision Group, together with his team, had developed wireless-connected electronic implants that sit on the surfaces of the brain.

The implants will be creating long-term brain-machine interfaces.

The primary goal of this project is to restore vision. However, it has become clear that there are many other applications for this technology.

The funding will allow the team to explore these potential new applications. These applications include:

  1. Moderation of epilepsy and depression
  2. Brain-controlled prosthetics
  3. Restoration of vital senses beyond vision

A robust public health program against mosquito-borne diseases

A Professor from the University is leading a major global research operation to eradicate mosquito-borne viruses including dengue and Zika.

Now operating in 12 countries, the program introduces a natural bacterium called Wolbachia into Aedes Aegpyti mosquitoes.

The bacterium is present in up to 60% insect species and can reduce the mosquitoes’ ability to transmit the viruses to humans.

Once released, they breed with wild mosquitoes, passing on the ability to block the diseases.

The team plan to use the funding to prepare for future scale-up of the global program, as a transformative public health intervention.

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