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Miguel  Nicolelis

Miguel Nicolelis

Leading Brain Scientist


Imagine living in a world where quadriplegics walk again; where people use their computers, drive their cars, and communicate with one another simply by thinking; and where diseases such as Parkinson’s are ended through brain implants. In his acclaimed book Beyond Boundaries: The New Neuroscience of Connecting Brains with Machines—and How It Will Change Our Lives, Dr. Miguel Nicolelis reveals how these long-held dreams are about to become a paradigm-shifting reality. Read More >

One of the leading brain scientists in the world, Dr. Nicolelis shares his revolutionary insights into how the brain creates thought and the human sense of self—and how this might be augmented by machines so that the entire universe will be within our reach.

A Duke University neuroscientist, Dr. Nicolelis has been an outspoken and passionate advocate for strengthening science education, technology, and innovation. His award-winning research has been published in Nature, Science, and Scientific American and has been reported in Newsweek, Time, and Discover, as well as national TV networks and international media outlets.

As of today, numerous neuroscience laboratories in the US, Europe, Asia, and Latin America have incorporated Dr. Nicolelis’ experimental paradigm to study a variety of mammalian neuronal systems. Indeed, two of his books on multi-electrode recording techniques have become the most cited works in this field. His research has influenced basic and applied research in computer science, robotics, and biomedical engineering. This multidisciplinary approach to research has become widely recognized in the neuroscience community.

Although best known for his pioneering studies of Brain Machine Interfaces (BMI) and neuroprosthetics in human patients and non-human primates, Dr. Nicolelis has also developed an integrative approach to studying neurological and psychiatric disorders including Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, schizophrenia, and attention deficit disorder. He has also made fundamental contributions in the fields of sensory plasticity, gustation (the act of tasting), sleep, reward, and learning. Dr. Nicolelis believes that this approach will allow the integration of molecular, cellular, systems, and behavioral data in the same animal, producing a more complete understanding of the nature of the neurophysiological alterations associated with these disorders.

As Brazil’s best-known scientist, he was selected to lead the country’s “Commission on the Future of Brazilian Science.” He is the Anne W. Deane Professor of Neuroscience at Duke University; a professor of neurobiology, biomedical engineering, and psychology; and the founder of Duke’s Center for Neuroengineering. He is also founder and scientific director of the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute for Neuroscience of Natal.

Dr. Nicolelis’ research has been highlighted in MIT Review’s Top 10 Emerging Technologies. He was named one of Scientific American’s Top 50 Technology Leaders in America in 2004 and has twice received the DARPA Award for Sustained Excellence by a Performer. Other honors include: the Whitehead Scholar Award; Whitehall Foundation Award; McDonnell-Pew Foundation Award; the Ramon y Cajal Chair at the University of Mexico; and the Santiago Grisolia Chair at Catedra Santiago Grisolia. In 2007, Dr. Nicolelis was honored as an invited speaker at the Nobel Forum at the Karolinksa Institute in Sweden. More recently he was awarded the International Blaise Pascal Research Chair from the Fondation de l’Ecole Normale Supérieure and the 2009 Fondation IPSEN Neuronal Plasticity Prize. Dr. Nicolelis is a member of the French Academy of Science and the Brazilian Academy of Science and has authored over 160 manuscripts, edited numerous books and special journal issues, and holds three US patents. Read Less ^

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The Potential of Brain Research on the Future

Speech Topics

How Connecting Brains with Machines Will Change Our Lives