Aug 30, 2021
Today’s guest is John Donoghue. He is well known for his
groundbreaking work developing Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs) to
restore movement for people with paralysis, known as ‘BrainGate’.
BrainGate was the original BCI system created by a company called
Cyberkinetics, of which John was a co-founder.
In this episode, John gives us a primer on BCIs. What are
they? How do they work? When will they be widely adopted? Are
they safe? How do we know? We cover these questions and
Many people consider John to be the founder of the entire
discipline of neuroprosthetics which is the combination of
neuroscience and biomedical engineering. He was a member of the
U.S. B.R.A.I.N. initiative’s first NIH Working Group and is a
fellow of the National Academy of Medicine, American Academy of
Arts and Sciences, as well as several other academies. His awards
include the German Zülch Prize (2007), the Roche-Nature Medicine
Prize (2010), the Schrödinger Prize (Germany, 2012), and the first
Israeli Brain Technology Prize in 2013.
Links Mentioned: BrainGate Website, John’s email
What If Fellowship: https://whatif.vc/fellowship
HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS WE TALKED
- John shares his background in biology, his fascination with the
way our brains control and plan movement which ultmiately led him
to explore how we can use computers to restore that functionality
via Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs) one day.
- John has spent more than 30 years focused on the potential of
using BCIs to solve some of the most debilitating physical ailments
that humans face.
- In this conversation, John gives an in-depth explanation of
what a BCI is, how it works, the different types that are
available, and the variety of uses that can come from each
- We discuss where BCIs started in the early 2000’s in human
trials, the advancement of the technology since then and where we
- John shares how he sees this technology being used on a larger
scale, what is currently holding it back, and what it will take to
get it to be used in more humans in the coming years.
- John shares where he thinks the opportunities are for
entrepreneurs in this space and how to get involved in this
technology and transform it for more uses.
- We discuss the ethical considerations around reading brain
signals and using computers to send signals back to the brain
telling it how to move the body and eventually, adjusting how
people think and feel.
Connect with the Stigma Podcast in the following
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Connect with host Stephen Hays here: Stephen Hays Personal Website,
What If Ventures (Mental Health