The Boston Retinal Implant Project: Overview and Current VLSI Research

July 6, 2003
2:50 pm - 4:00 pm
Halligan 111B
Speaker: Dr. Shawn Kelly, MIT
Host: Valencia Joyner


The Boston Retinal Implant Project (BRIP) is developing a prosthesis to restore useful vision to blind victims of retinal degenerative diseases. It is a collaboration between MIT, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and the Boston VA Medical Center, with satellite university research groups at Cornell, Huntsville, and Louisville. Our retinal implant will functionally take the place of the damaged photoreceptors, with an external camera transmitting images to a control chip implanted on the eye, which in turn stimulates the appropriate retinal ganglion neurons which make up the optic nerve. This talk will include an overview of the project, discussion of a circuit architecture and analog VLSI chip for low-power neural stimulation, and an update on current designs and progress toward a prototype.

Shawn K. Kelly received the PhD, MEng, and SB degrees in Electrical Engineering from MIT in 2004, 1998, and 1996, respectively. He has always had an interest on biomedical applications, and has worked with BRIP since 1996. His MEng project was a portable battery powered retinal stimulator which was used in 6 human trials, and is still in constant use in long-term electrode pulsing tests. His PhD research explored power consumption and waste in a retinal implant, and culminated in an analog VLSI low-power stimulator using half the power of an aggressively designed current source stimulator and one third the power used in a typical current source stimulator. Since finishing his PhD, he has been working with BRIP as an employee of the VA Center for Innovative Visual Rehabilitation and a visiting scientist at MIT.