Gerald E. Loeb

Professor of Biomedical Engineering,
Adj. Prof. Neurology, Pharmacy
Director of the Medical Device Development Facility

Gerald E. Loeb

Research Topics

  • Neural prosthetics
  • Sensorimotor control
  • Muscle mechanics
  • Spinal cord
  • Haptic robots

Research Images

Injectable BION implants, now in clinical trials to reanimate paralyzed muscles and limbs by electrical stimulation.Motor cortex controls muscles by way of complex spinal interneuronal circuits that integrate descending commands with segmental sensory feedback.  The resulting multi-input, multi-output regulator allows the brain to learn to cope with external perturbations and computational noise.An adaptive controller must learn to use the prosthetic interfaces to control the limb usefully, just like the brain did during infancy.  We can do this training offline, however, using accurate mathematicaly models of the limb mechanics and muscle physiology.

Research Overview

We are interested generally in using electrophysiological interfaces between the nervous system and electronic equipment in order to understand natural functions (e.g. hearing, vision and movement) and to repair their disorders (e.g. deafness, blindness and paralysis). Previously, I have worked on cochlear implants (now commercially successful) and a cortical visual prosthesis (now being pursued by other research groups). Our current research is focused on biomimetic robots and prosthetic limbs capable of tactile sensing, reflexive control of limb movements and exploratory procedures to characterize and identify objects. This involves development of interface technologies (sensors, stimulators, etc.) and biomimetic control systems based on physiologically realistic mathematical models of muscles, proprioceptors and spinal cord circuitry. Such modeling builds on our many years of experimental research studying those structures in animals. We are also in preclinical animal trials of a cardiac pacemaker for a fetus in utero, which can be implanted percutaneously and recharged wirelessly until birth. We collaborate with two start-up companies from our lab: SynTouch manufactures our BioTac tactile sensors and was recently named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum; MicroNuronix is a joint venture with Nurotron in China to develop a new version of our BION injectable neuromuscular stimulator.

Contact Information

Mailing Address University of Southern California
Denney Research Building B6, MC1111
1042 Downey Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089
Office Location DRB-B11, UPC
Office Phone (213) 821-5311
Lab Location DRB-B11, UPC
Lab Phone (213) 821-5311
Fax (213) 821-3897
Office Location DRB-B11, UPC



  • B.A., Johns Hopkins University, 1969
  • M.D., Johns Hopkins University, 1972
  • Surgical resident, University of Arizona, 1972-73

Selected Publications

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