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[May 14,2010]

SUNY Downstate Receives $12.8 Million DARPA Contract

SUNY Downstate Medical Center has been awarded $12.8 million for research on studying the brain’s “plasticity,” or ability to recover from injury.

The newly funded research will create a realistic computational model of the sensorimotor system and deliver a hybrid in silico/biological co-adaptive symbiotic system for rehabilitation.

The contract comes from the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) through its Reorganization and Plasticity to Accelerate Injury Recovery (REPAIR) program. DARPA’s REPAIR program seeks new methods for analysis and decoding of neural signals in order to understand how neural-based sensory stimulation could be applied to accelerate recovery from brain injury. Joseph Francis, PhD, assistant professor of physiology and pharmacology, is the principal investigator.

The project draws on complex research at SUNY Downstate and at the University of Florida, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of California at Berkley, and from an industry partner, NIRx Medical Technologies. The team includes neuroscientists, biomedical engineers, roboticists, physicians, and clinical scientists.

Downstate scientists working on this project include John Chapin, PhD, professor of physiology and pharmacology, a pioneer with 30 years experience in sensorimotor research; William Lytton, MD, professor of neurology, physiology and pharmacology, and biomedical engineering, a computational neuroscientist who works on large scale simulations and has expertise in supercomputers; and Randall Barbour, PhD, professor of pathology and biophysics, an expert in physical optics, bio-and electrical engineering, and software design.


SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, Colleges of Nursing and Health Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and an Advanced Biotechnology Park and Biotechnology Incubator.

SUNY Downstate ranks ninth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools.  More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school.