Ismael Seáñez, assistant professor of biomedical engineering in the McKelvey School of Engineering and of neurosurgery in the School of Medicine, has been selected as a K12 scholar by the Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Engineering Research Career Development Program in Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences funded by the National Institutes of Health.

As part of the award, Seáñez will receive funding to support research and career development to understand how spinal cord stimulation changes the behavior of the central nervous system in people with spinal cord injury. In addition, he will attend a movement and rehabilitation sciences clinical boot camp and training event at Northwestern University in 2022, where he will present his research.

The program’s goal is to recruit and train scholars with engineering and other quantitative backgrounds to become successful rehabilitation scientists in basic, translational and/or clinical research; to provide them with an in-depth understanding of rehabilitation patient-centered clinical problems; and to provide career development and mentoring opportunities. The program was created by a consortium of nine institutions in the field.

Seáñez’s research involves the use of body-machine interfaces to provide a higher level of control for assistive devices and neuroprosthetics and to improve motor function through rehabilitation. He hopes that knowledge from this study can be used to develop neuro-rehabilitation tools and programs that maximize recovery and improve the quality of life of people with spinal cord injury.


The McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis promotes independent inquiry and education with an emphasis on scientific excellence, innovation and collaboration without boundaries. McKelvey Engineering has top-ranked research and graduate programs across departments, particularly in biomedical engineering, environmental engineering and computing, and has one of the most selective undergraduate programs in the country. With 140 full-time faculty, 1,387 undergraduate students, 1,448 graduate students and 21,000 living alumni, we are working to solve some of society’s greatest challenges; to prepare students to become leaders and innovate throughout their careers; and to be a catalyst of economic development for the St. Louis region and beyond.

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