Wissam Sam Musallam

Canada Research Chair in Bioengineering

Tier 2 - 2007-04-01
Renewed: 2012-04-01
McGill University
Natural Sciences and Engineering


Coming to Canada from

California Institute of Technology

Research involves

Developing a brain–machine interface, so that brain signals alone can operate devices.

Research relevance

Helping paralyzed patients operate external devices using their neural activity.

Mind Over Machine

Paralyzed patients can still think about making movements. It’s just that they can no longer actually execute those movements. But what if paralyzed people could make things move with their minds, not through telepathy, but through an interface connected to their brains?

Using neurophysiology, Dr. Sam Musallam studies brain areas that generate movements to find the signals that could operate external devices, as well as the tasks that a specific brain signal could control. As Canada Research Chair in Bioengineering, his goal is to harness different brain signals to operate different devices—very accurately and regardless of distractions.

Mussallam’s lab researches and develops electrode arrays that can be implanted in the brains of patients, the electronics that condition the brain signals before they are sent to operate devices, and the circuitry and user interfaces that patients will need.

For the two million paralyzed people in Canada and the United States, this work represents hope that one day they can recover both a measure of freedom and, in some cases, even an ability to communicate with the outside world.