Background

The Center for Adaptive Neurotechnologies is the culmination of a unique research and development program that has grown and flourished at the Wadsworth Center over 33 years. Driven by the pressing needs of people with severe neuromuscular disorders, and by the energy of scientists, engineers, and clinicians seeking to understand and overcome these disorders, its principal objective is to accelerate the development, clinical translation, and wide dissemination of the adaptive neurotechnologies that Wadsworth scientists and engineers are continuing to develop and are now translating into scientific and clinical applications in collaboration with scientists and clinicians at other institutions.

The Wadsworth Center was established in 1914 as the Public Health Laboratory of the New York State Department of Health and now has a staff of ~700. It is based on the principle that a strong research and academic program is the cornerstone of the ability to respond effectively to public health problems. Since its inception, Wadsworth Center personnel have made many major biomedical contributions. These include, for example: the first system of standardized laboratory analyses for diagnosis of human disease; discovery of Nystatin (i.e., name derived from “New York State”), the first safe and effective antifungal antibiotic; identification and isolation of cardiolipin, the first chemically defined antigen used in the standard test for syphilis; isolation and characterization of Coxsackie virus; discovery of mobile genetic elements (introns) in bacteria; and development of a novel single-particle approach to analyzing the structure of complex biomolecules using electron microscopy and computer processing.

Wadsworth scientists and engineers are engaged in biomedical research funded by grants from NIH, NSF, and elsewhere. These grants are administered by Health Research Inc. (HRI), a nonprofit entity. Many Wadsworth researchers have faculty appointments at the State University of New York at Albany (SUNYA) and other universities; and many students from these institutions and elsewhere complete their dissertation research at Wadsworth under the mentorship of Wadsworth researchers.

The scientists and engineers of the Center for Adaptive Neurotechnologies are members of Wadsworth’s Laboratory of Neural Injury and Repair (LNIR) which began 33 years ago. The LNIR has been headed since its inception by Dr. Jonathan Wolpaw, a neurologist who has spent his career engaged in basic and clinical neurophysiological research. It has a staff of 30, including staff scientists, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, visiting scientists and students, and support personnel. It hosts a continual stream of visiting researchers who come to work with Wadsworth scientists to master the new adaptive neurotechnologies developed here and to participate in their further development. LNIR researchers have been consistently successful for many years in obtaining federal and foundation research support, and currently hold faculty appointments at SUNYA and other institutions, including Washington University in St. Louis, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Albany Medical College, University of Texas at El Paso, Ohio State University, and Columbia University.

The LNIR staff and laboratories are in the Wadsworth Center’s David Axelrod facility located on New Scotland Avenue in Albany. The LNIR occupies 9,000 sq.ft. of contiguous laboratory, support, office, and meeting space (including a self-contained 1100-sq.ft. animal research unit) and also has a 1000- sq.ft. human studies unit. It is fully equipped for all aspects of the technology research and development described here, and includes ample space and facilities for at least 15 students and visiting scientists. It also has full access to the extensive Wadsworth Center support facilities (i.e., electronics and machine shops, computer support, animal care and research core, biomedical imaging core, library services, graphics and photography unit).