Chad Bouton, an expert in decoding the brain waves that have allowed paralyzed patients to move or operate a wheel chair by thought alone, has been named managing director of the Feinstein Institute’s new Center for Bioelectronic Medicine.
The $300 million center, planned for the Nassau Hub area in Uniondale, will bring together scientists and medical experts to research and commercialize non-drug treatments for such conditions as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, gastric conditions and others, including some cancers.
Bouton was also named vice president of advanced engineering and technology at Feinstein and the division leader of the center’s neurotechnology and analytics effort. Bouton’s expertise includes bio-sensors, neural prosthetics and decoding, and linear and bio signal processing and controls. His research has focused on paralysis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, cancer and other conditions.
The holder of 70 patents, Bouton comes to Long Island from Ohio-based Battelle, the giant independent R&D organization that, among other duties, helps run Brookhaven National Laboratory. An 18-year veteran of Battelle, Bouton was awarded the organization’s highest honor, Inventor of the Year, in 2010. His lengthy list of awards and other accolades include recognition by Congress and the National Academy of Engineering.
Feinstein CEO Kevin Tracey – himself a pioneer in bioelectronics research – said the institute was thrilled to have Bouton come aboard “at this crucial moment in our development.”
“As we continue to unlock the immense potential of bioelectronic medicine, we look forward to Chad’s unparalleled expertise,” Tracey said in a statement. “Together we look to create viable technologies that will improve the lives of patients worldwide.”
Bouton is already familiar with the Feinstein Institute, having collaborated with local researchers on what is called the “neural tourniquet,” a bioelectronic technology based on nerve-stimulating neuroscience discovered by Tracey. That initiative, announced in June, is aimed at staunching blood loss on the battlefield and during surgeries; it will continue under the joint leadership of Bouton and Christopher Czura, Feinstein’s vice president of scientific affairs.
Bouton, who noted he worked with “some of the finest scientific and engineering minds in the world” at Battelle, said he looked forward to “translating discoveries into cures and treatments for countless patients” with his colleagues at the Feinstein Institute.
“I saw the unique opportunity to build a technology and engineering team to complement [Feinstein’s] best-in-class research capability,” Bouton said. “This winning combination will allow us to accelerate progress in the field of bioelectronic medicine.”
Bouton’s research is already the stuff of medical legend. In addition to his much-publicized work using neural implants in paralyzed patients, he developed neurological cancer-detection methods that helped surgeons pinpoint and remove tumors more quickly and effectively.
The Feinstein Institute also announced the promotion of Yousef Al-Abed, the head of the institute’s Center for Molecular Innovation, to division leader of molecular targets. Al-Abed, who has overseen the discovery and development of novel therapeutics for human diseases including lupus, arthritis and diabetes, will work with Bouton and other Feinstein researchers to develop new pharmaceutical candidates.
Tracey has been out raising money for the Center for Bioelectric Medicine, which would one day include 50 laboratories combining molecular biology, biomechanical engineering and related disciplines and employing as many as 400 technical professionals.
In September, a consortium of elected officials and regional rainmakers urged Albany to kick in $50 million to the cause, championing the idea of building Tracey’s dream center adjacent to the revamped Nassau Coliseum.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano – part of a consortium that also included Long Island Association chief Kevin Law and Steve Bellone, Mangano’s Suffolk counterpart – said the proposed center would create “a new economy for Long Island.”