MIT Launches Bionics Center

MIT Launches Bionics Center

MIT announced last month that a $24 million gift to MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research from philanthropist Lisa Yang will help establish the "K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Center for Molecular Therapeutics in Neuroscience," a bionics center that aims to expand the efficiency and deliverability of bionic prosthetics to those who suffer from a broad range of physical disabilities.

"A deepening understanding of the brain has created unprecedented opportunities to alleviate the challenges posed by disability," the announcement read, continuing, "MIT is pushing forward the development and deployment of enabling technologies that communicate directly with the nervous system to mitigate a broad range of disabilities. The center’s scientists, clinicians, and engineers will work together to create, test, and disseminate bionic technologies that integrate with both the body and mind."

The announcement was supplemented with a video that showcases the current technology, including a rock climber with a prosthetic leg climbing up a cliff. "MIT Accepts the Challenge," the video says at the end.

Hugh Herr, known worldwide as a leader in the bionic limb field, will be heading the center. He himself is a rock climber who, in 1982, lost the use of both of his legs during a blizzard.

According to MIT, the K. Lisa Yang Center will focus on three bionic technologies during its first few years: digital nervous system, brain-controlled exoskeletons, and bionic limb reconstruction.