Conversations on Bionics and Pain

This show is about engineering and medical developments related to bionics and pain, particularly the use of science and technology to restore function in the human body and alleviation of pain.

The episodes come in two formats. The most common are long interviews with established researchers about their work and the historical context in which it happened, such as the state-of-the-art at the time and the motivation behind it. The second format is shorter interviews with the authors of recent scientific articles about their findings.

In both formats, the guests will talk about their career paths, their views on current challenges in the field, and the opportunities ahead. We also talk about their views on science and the social aspects surrounding it, without shying away from controversial topics.

The target audience is students and professionals interested in pain, bionics, biomechatronics, neural engineering, computer-brain interfaces, biomedical engineering, and such topics in which medicine and engineering partner up.

The show is hosted by Dr. Max Ortiz Catalan, Ph.D., who is the Director of the Center for Bionics and Pain Research ( and known for his work on prosthetic limbs and phantom limb pain.

Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn

Music by Dr. Enzo Mastinu

Art by David Martín Espinosa


A2 Somatosensory Plasticity | Prof. Sliman Bensmaia
Show Details51min 10s
2 Prof. Todd Kuiken | Targeted Muscle Reinnervation
Show Details1hr 3min
A1 Open-Source Bionic Leg | Prof. Elliott Rouse and Prof. Levi Hargrove
Show Details52min 59s
1 Prof. Gerald E. Loeb | Neuroprostheses
Hide Details1hr 45min

Interview with Dr. Gerald E. Loeb, Professor on Biomedical Engineering and Neurology at the University of Southern California in L.A., USA. He has written hundreds of scientific articles and holds over 70 patents on medical devices (google scholar). He has conducted pioneer work on motor, visual, and auditory neuroprostheses, from basic and translational research to entrepreneurship for making such technologies available to patients.

In this interview, we discuss his career path, contributions to different neuroprostheses, and the challenges faced during clinical implementation and commercialization. We also discuss the reasons to conduct a Ph.D. and subsequent career options. We finalize with a discussion on the human body as a machine (or not), and on descriptive and normative views of our jobs in society.

Interview by Dr. Max Ortiz Catalan, Assoc. Prof. on Bionics and Director of the Center for Bionics and Pain Research (Social media: FB, TW, IG, and LI).

Episode timestamps

(00:00) Coming up

(02:31) Intro to CBP

(03:40) Summary

(06:28) Career path

(10:41) Switch from NHS to Academia

(12:51) Motor neuroprosthesis – The Bionic Neuron (BION)

(17:40) Challenges to commercialize medical devices

(27:08) Explanting the device

(29:58) Hearing neuroprosthesis – Cochlear implants

(34:30) Visual neuroprosthesis – Cortical visual implants

(39:15) Motor neuroprosthesis – FreeHand System

(40:49) Sensing Touch and entrepreneurship – SynTouch's BioTac

(53:10) Commercializing research and intellectual property (patents)

(1:00:05) Provisional patents

(1:06:52) When to move on – changing to new fields

(1:10:00) Difference between Academia and Industry

(1:13:01) New technologies for neural interfacing

(1:15:30) Restoring touch in hand prostheses

(1:24:33) Why doing a Ph.D.? and then?

(1:28:45) Upcoming book

(1:31:30) The human body as a machine

(1:39:34) Solving problems or creating markets?

1hr 45min
Published Jan 1, 2021 at 1:00pm
Welcome to Conversations on Bionics and Pain
Show Details7min 41s