Investigations into the ‘Rebound Effect’ in Essential Tremor DBS Patients to be presented at annual Society for Neuroscience Meeting

PhD student Ben Ferleger and undergraduate researcher Sarah Cooper will be at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago this year presenting a poster on some of our recent work using the Activa PC+S. The research project being presented is an investigation into the ‘rebound effect’ whereby essential tremor patients with a deep brain stimulator can have worse-than-normal symptoms immediately following the removal of electrical stimulation. Due to the fact that in future closed-loop DBS  systems may automatically turn on and off stimulation in response to sensed neural biomarkers, the fact that symptoms get worse temporarily with the removal of stimulation needs to inform future algorithm design to ensure effective control of symptoms.

The full SFN Conference Poster information is available here:!/7883/presentation/44957

BRL researchers work to give surgeons ear sculpting practice

Photo credit: University of Washington
Photo credit: University of Washington

Work done by BRL researchers Angelique Berens and Sharon Newman to improve how surgeons help children with missing or underdeveloped ears has been has been highlighted by the UW Today news. They have been working on a new technique to allow surgeons to practice carving a new ear from rib cartilage before the actual surgery takes place. Using a patient’s CT scan to make a mold allows them to quickly and cheaply make lifelike practice models that will lead to surgeons having more expertise in ear sculpting techniques. Read the full story here – 

BioRobotics Lab and UW Medicine team up to test virtual ‘warm-ups’ for surgeons

lendvayThe UW Health Sciences news article announced our latest new project in collaboration with UW Medicine to test virtual-reality warm-ups for surgeons before they perform robotic surgery. The project will be lead by BRL-affiliate faculty member Thomas Lendvay, who is a UW associate professor of urology. Also leading the project is Timothy Brand from the Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma. The study will be performed in collaboration with the BRL’s Blake Hannaford.  For more information about the project, check out the full article here

Congratulations BRL Graduates!

The BioRobotics lab is pleased to announce the graduation of four of our student researchers this spring! Three PhD students and one Bachelor’s degree were awarded to BRL students. Congratulations are in order for Dr. Tamara Bonaci, Dr. Levi Cheng, Dr. Iris Jiang, and Sharon Newman! For a brief description of each of the graduate’s work and future plans, please read on


TamaraGradTamara Bonaci, PhD in Electrical Engineering

Tamara has spent her time at UW EE researching security and privacy issues of cyberphysical systems. Specifically, her dissertation focused on the security and privacy problems posed by brain computer interfaces and teleoperated robotic systems. During her time at UW she was advised by Howard Chizeck, and she will be staying with the BioRobotics lab for the summer while she finalizes her theoretical work with these two cyberphysical systems. Congratulations Tamara!


Levi Cheng, PhD in Mechanical Engineering

Levi was advised by Blake Hannaford while he researched methods for identifying and preventing tissue damage from robotic surgery devices. His work included simulation of different mechanical grippers as well as analysis of tissue necrosis due to gripping force. Congratulations Levi!


Iris Jiang, PhD in Bioengineering

Iris, who was also advised by Blake Hannaford, researched how healthy subjects responded to various feedback methods in order to design higher-performance state feedback for lower-limb prosthetic users. The project was aimed at reducing falls in lower-limb amputees by warning a user of a trip or unstable surface in a short enough time such that the patient could react to correct before falling. Iris was interested in extending this work to patients who had undergone Targeted Muscle Reinnervation (TMR) surgery. Congratulations Iris!


Sharon Newman, B.S. in Bioengineering

Sharon worked with Iris to tackle the difficult and time-consuming problem of mapping sensations after a TMR surgery. She and Iris developed an approach to automating the mapping procedure using the Raven Surgical Robot, a Kinect depth-sensor, and a computer application for mapping patient responses. For one year starting in September 2015, Sharon will be funded by Fulbright and Whitaker fellowships to conduct research and attend classes in the BrainLinks-BrainTools department at the University of Freiburg, Germany. Congratulations Sharon!Iris_Sharon_Graduation

C-SATS, a new BRL-affiliated spinoff, raises $2.5M to evaluate surgeons

csats_logoC-SATS is a new BRL-affiliated startup that aims to crowd-source evaluation of surgical skills to qualified experts and extra-institutional reviewers. The startup was founded by BRL alumni Timothy Kowalewski and Lee White as well as BRL affiliated faculty member Tom Lendvay. Check out the C-SATS website for more information at

C-SATS was also recently covered by an extensive Geekwire article available here.

Tony Dyson, the designer of R2-D2, tours the BioRobotics Lab


This week the BRL hosted Tony Dyson by giving him a lab tour! Tony Dyson, who built R2-D2, is in town for the We-Robot 2015 Conference on Robotics, Law & Policy. Tonight he will be interviewed by Ryan Calo as the conference’s keynote talk. He was also recently interviewed by Geekwire which can be read here-

Read moreTony Dyson, the designer of R2-D2, tours the BioRobotics Lab