It’s been an outstanding year for Dr. Weir’s Biomechatronics Development Laboratory
By Kahla Weber, BS-BIOE
The Biomechatronics Development Laboratory has had a very successful year despite the many challenges the pandemic presented. The following new grants have been awarded to Richard Weir, PhD:
- A Bioengineering Research Grant (BRG) NIH R01: Optimization of Minimally Invasive Bidirectional Optogenetic Peripheral Nerve Interface with Single Axon Read-in & Read-out Specificity, $3,703,873. Dr. Weir is a co-PI on this grant with Dr. Emily Gibson also of Bioengineering and Dr. John Caldwell of the Dept. of Cell Physiology. We also have collaborators in neuroscience, Dr. Diego Restrepo, and at CU Boulder, Dr. Juliet Gopinath, Dr. Victor Bright and Dr. Bob McCleod. This is a development grant to develop an innovative optically based neural-interface. BIOE Post Doc Arjun Fontaine and PhD student Sam Littich led Dr. Weir’s effort on this project.
- An innovative VA SPiRE Award: Power Hungry: Fuel Cells Harvesting Biofluids for Renewable Power of Wearable Medical Devices, $189,322. This is a cool project to develop an implantable power source that uses blood sugar as a fuel for a fuel-cell based source of electricity. This is collaboration with Dr. John Pelliginro and Dr. Jacob Segil of CU Boulder. BIOE PhD student Tom Disorbo is working on this for Dr. Weir’s lab.
- A Small business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant NIH R44: A ratcheting prosthetic partial finger using advances manufacturing technology, $1,499,694. Dr. Weir’s lab will conduct early clinical testing with persons with partial hand amputations fitted with Point Design’s 3D metal printed fingers. The Point Digit was developed in Dr. Weir’s lab by Lab Manager Mr. Stephen Huddle.
- A phase 1 SBIR grant NIH R43: The Point Powered: A Robust Actuated Prosthetic Finger for Partial Hand Amputation, $224,994. The BDL will provide 3D printing services to Point Designs
- VA Research Career Scientist Award: IK6: RR&D Research Career Scientist Award Proposal, $785,575.
- VA CDA2 training Grant for Former PhD student and now colleague and Co Founder of Point Designs Dr. Jacob Segil: Investigation of Embodiment of Upper Limb Prosthetic Devices, $1,223,463. Dr. Weir is a mentor on this prestigious award for Dr. Segil.
An even more impressive feat was the four U.S. patents they received for: Prosthetic partial fingers; High torque density miniature laminar gear transmission; Systems and methods for postural control of a multi-function prosthesis; and Optical imaging devices and variable-focus lens elements, and methods for using them (link). They produced a multitude of publications (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11) as well as a book chapter in “Digital Surgery” titled Human-Machine Integration and the Evolution of Neuroprostheses (link).
On top of these remarkable accomplishments, Dr. Richard Weir himself was a mentor and advisor to a number of undergraduate and graduate students. He is a PhD mentor for both Sam Littich and Tom Disorbo and is currently an advisor to five BIOE master’s students: Michael O’Donnell, Aiden Roemer, Malia Rohrig, Amber Bollinger, and Jordan McClung.
Although this lab has had quite an active year, they have no plans for slowing down! Richard Weir states “over the next year my goal is to further develop our Women’s Digit project and to develop out ideas pertaining to novel osseo integration for fingers. We are in the process of developing the relationships needed to build teams around these ideas.” We look forward to seeing what the next year will bring for the Weir Biomechatronics Development Laboratory!