Med school professor to develop social robots

5/23/2007 | By: Staff Report  |

University of Nevada School of Medicine internal medicine professor Philip H. Goodman, M.D., was recently awarded a $283,000 grant from the Department of Defense to develop a socially interactive robot whose "brain" uses computer-simulated but biologically realistic spiking nerve cells. Goodman will work in collaboration with investigators from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Swiss Institute of Technology to develop the new technology.

Goodman was one of 780 academic scientists to apply for the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) grant which is funded by the U.S. Army Research Office, the Office of Naval Research and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. Only 199 awards were granted to 112 academic institutions across the country. Goodman's study, entitled "Parallel Robotic Brains," was funded by the Office of Naval Research and is his fourth such equipment grant to be funded by that office.

Goodman's research interests revolve around how the brain responds to sight, sound and touch and how it improves with learning. His research on brain function, which has applications in artificial intelligence and interactive human-robotic communication and disorders such as dementia and autism, was funded last October for $877,000 by the Navy's Department of Human Systems Science and Technology. In addition to supervising the care of hospitalized patients and teaching students and residents, as a neuroscientist Goodman directs the Brain Computation Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno which involves collaboration among faculty and students in the computer sciences and biomedical engineering programs.

DURIP supports the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment that augments current university capabilities or develops new university capabilities to perform cutting-edge defense research. The program meets a critical need by enabling university researchers to purchase scientific equipment costing $50,000 or more to conduct defense related research. Generally, university scientists have difficulty purchasing the expensive instruments under normal research contracts and grants.

As the state's only public medical school, the University of Nevada School of Medicine has been meeting statewide healthcare, educational, and clinical needs since 1969. The School of Medicine encompasses 16 clinical medical education departments, including Family Medicine, Pediatrics, Obstetrics/Gynecology, Internal Medicine, Surgery, and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, as well as ten nationally-recognized departments within basic science including microbiology and biomedical engineering. As the largest multi-specialty healthcare focus within the state, the School of Medicine employs more than 185 doctors who both teach and practice medicine throughout Nevada. The school's statewide faculty physician practice group has a combined 25 different medical specialties with seven physician practice offices located in the Reno-Sparks area and five physician offices located in Las Vegas.

The University of Nevada School of Medicine utilizes a best-practice approach to medicine and is committed to addressing the health needs of Nevada now and in the future. For more information, please visit the University of Nevada School of Medicine.


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