Medical Bionics: A New Era in Medicine – Graeme Clark Institute event

29 January 2020

Event date: 13 February 2020

Medical bionics has transformed the lives of many people around the world. The next decade promises major advances and health impacts.

About this Event

The Graeme Clark Institute is please to showcase Melbourne’s excellence in medical bionics with two research leaders sharing their work and insights into this fast changing field of biomedical sciences.

A major legacy of Professor Graeme Clark’s development of the world’s first successful multi-channel cochlear implant in Melbourne in the 1970’s has been the development of not just skills and expertise but a culture of successful medical device development. It is a reason why it has become the leading centre for medical bionics in the Southern Hemisphere.

As we enter a new decade, medical bionics is positioned to impact human health and wellbeing through advances in the development of advanced hearing prosthetics, new prosthetic eyes and brain-machine-interface technology which is poised to impact nerve regeneration and Epilepsy detection and control.

We invite you to join us for this free public eent to be inspired by what advances we can expect in medical bionics in this new decade.

Event details

Date: Thursday, 13 February 2020

Time: 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm AEDT

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Location: Brown Theatre, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Melbourne, Building 193, Wilson Avenue, Melbourne, VIC 3010

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Click here to register for this free event.

Brain Machine Interfaces for Advanced Healthcare

Professor Arthur Lowery, FTSE, Fellow IEEE

“The last mile” – has been the challenge for NBN – but the next challenge will be “The last centimetre”, that is, how can we interface electronics directly to the brain?

Presently, there are several international projects that aim to present the brain with large amounts of information, via microminiature electrodes or light-beams. There is talk of replacing mobile ‘phones, though this is very speculative. More realistically, devices to provide simple very-low-resolution vision have been trialled and show promise, and interfaces to drive prosthetic limbs have been demonstrated.

I will introduce our work at Monash Vision Group, where we have developed a system to provide visual sensations directly to the brain, using electronic implants on the cortex. We are presently identifying new healthcare applications of our technology, including the possibility of recording from the brain to provide ‘upload’ as well as ‘download’ capabilities. I’ll also discuss progress across the world, and discuss technical challenges and opportunities.


Professor Arthur Lowery is the Director of the Monash Vision Group, which aims to develop a bionic eye implant and has been funded by the Australian Research Council’s Special Research Initiative in bionic vision, and more recently from the government’s new Medical Research Future Fund: Frontier Health and Medical Research Program. Arthur is a Fellow of the IEEE (for leadership in computer aided design of optical communications systems), the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). He is currently a Chief Investigator in the Centre for Integrative Brain Function, working on Brain-Machine Interfaces. Between 2011-2017, Arthur was also a Science Leader in the ARC’s Centre of Excellence in Devices for Ultrahigh bandwidth Optical Systems (CUDOS). Arthur has founded two companies, Virtual Photonics Pty Ltd (now VPIphotonics) and Ofidium Pty Ltd. He has also published more than 320 scientific papers and has 15 granted US patents.

Bionics for healthcare: from maverick medicos to effective electrotherapies

Professor Hugh McDermott, Chief Technology Officer, Bionics Institute

The application of electricity to the human body to treat health disorders has been practised since ancient times. During the nineteenth century, electrical stimulation was promoted as a therapy for an unbelievable range of conditions. Treatments based on scientific evidence of efficacy have emerged only gradually, mainly over the past 50 years. Today, the most widely used implantable electronic device is the cardiac pacemaker; about 2 million units are sold globally each year.

Electrical stimulation of the nervous system can be used to restore sensory perception. Cochlear implants are highly effective at restoring a sense of hearing for people who find that acoustic hearing aids are inadequate. The Australian company Cochlear Ltd manufactures the majority of the 50,000 “bionic ears” implanted around the world each year. The success of these devices has led to development of innovative treatments for other medical conditions. Several different designs of bionic eye are being evaluated to assist people with profound visual impairment. Deep brain stimulation is a proven therapy for Parkinson’s disease and potentially many other disorders of the central nervous system. These and other developments promise new and more effective treatments for a range of challenging health conditions. Building on a history of success in this field, Australian researchers continue to expand the boundaries of these healthcare innovations.


Hugh is a biomedical engineer with over 35 years’ experience developing and evaluating neural stimulation techniques to address a range of health disorders. After many years as a researcher at the University of Melbourne where he focused on the development of the cochlear implant, he joined the Bionics Institute, where he now leads research to improve deep brain stimulation as a therapy for Parkinson’s disease. Several of the outcomes of his work have been commercialised, and millions of products have been sold worldwide containing his inventions. Hugh is an author of over 120 publications in major peer-reviewed journals and books, 25 patent families, and over 200 further publications. He is a Fellow of the AAHMS, a Fellow of the IEEE, and a Fellow of the ASA.



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