BrainGate, Inc. is a company owned by Tufts University, focused on the advancement of the ground-breaking BrainGate™ Neural Interface Technology and associated intellectual property. The BrainGate company was founded by Jeffrey M. Stibel, A95, and led by a seasoned team of entrepreneurs with a goal to advance movement through thought alone. For over a decade the company has partnered with leading academic institutions, corporations, and various non-profit and government organizations on the research, science, and development of applied commercial technology. In 2019, Jeff Stibel and his colleagues donated BrainGate, Inc. to Tufts University.
One of the key early innovations for BrainGate came from Dr. Donald Humphrey of Emory University. In the late 1990s, Dr. Humphrey invented a method for brain-computer interfaces, later patented, that became the basis of this technology. Shortly thereafter, a Brown University affiliate called Cyberkinetics acquired the rights to the Emory intellectual property and launched a set of clinical trials for the first generation neural interface system at Brown. The result was the BrainGate Neural Interface System, a brain-implantable sensor on a bionic computer chip smaller than the size of a penny to monitor brain activity in patients and convert the intention of the user into commands.
In 2004, the US Food and Drug Administration granted Cyberkinetics the first of two Investigational Device Exemptions (IDEs) to perform this research. Hospitals in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Illinois were established as clinical sites for the pilot trial and four participants with tetraplegia (decreased ability to use the arms and legs) were enrolled in the study. The results were positive and the knowledge from the trials further helped in developing the BrainGate device.
In mid-2008, a new clinical trial was developed to continue this important research, currently being performed principally by Brown University and Massachusetts General Hospital under the guidance of Dr. Leigh Hochberg. In May 2009, the FDA provided a second Investigational Device Exemption for a clinical trial whose primary purpose is to investigate wireless control of thought. BrainGate, Inc. acquired the intellectual property for the BrainGate technology from Cyberkinetics.
BrainGate’s intellectual property is based on technology that can sense, transmit, analyze, and apply the language of neurons. The BrainGate technology is relevant across many platforms but the core areas of focus have been three-fold:
The BrainGate technology may also provide greater insight into motor function and sensory feedback between the brain and other parts of the body. Use of the BrainGate technology to better understand cellular communication within organs other than the brain is also being explored.