PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University neuroscientist John Donoghue will take a year-long sabbatical in 2015 to lead the launch of a major new research center in Switzerland. Donoghue, who directs the Brown Institute for Brain Science (BIBS), will help the Wyss Center for Bio- and Neuro- Engineering get started. The Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) founded the center together with the University of Geneva. The Center is located in a striking complex of biotech buildings in Geneva, with gifts from philanthropists Hansjörg Wyss and Ernesto Bertarelli.
The Center will house new platforms devoted to accelerating translational research in areas such as immuno-engineering, neuro-engineering and regenerative engineering. Faculty members from the EPFL and the University of Geneva will be affiliated with the Center. Eventually, the center could employ as many as 150 scientists, and staff.
“I am honored to help launch this exciting new initiative,” said Donoghue, who is the Henry Merritt Wriston Professor of Neuroscience and of Engineering. He is also a senior researcher at the Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center. “These are extraordinary times in neuroscience, with worldwide efforts emerging that will increase our understanding of brain function and our ability to treat brain disorders. The Wyss center, with its emphasis on translating innovative ideas to new devices, is poised to be an international focal point for discovery and the creation of new medical technologies.”
EPFL announced July 11 that it has granted Donoghue a titular professor appointment. The University of Geneva also named Donoghue an invited professor earlier this month.
Donoghue, who co-directs the BrainGate research program with Dr. Leigh Hochberg, will share his time between Geneva and Brown, for instance by continuing to be engaged with the BrainGate research throughout his time at the Wyss.
Donoghue said there are potential avenues for collaboration between the Wyss Center and Brown. A tangible precedent comes from the recent development of an implantable, rechargeable wireless brain sensor. Two of the principal researchers were Brown University engineers Arto Nurmikko and David Borton. During much of the work, Borton was at EPFL.
For the year of Donoghue’s sabbatical, BIBS will have an interim director to be named by Brown medicine and biology Dean Dr, Jack Elias, Provost Vicki Colvin and President Christina Paxson.