Plexon Inc., a developer of hardware and software for brain and nervous system research, announces it is donating one of its MEA Workstations to Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU). Tracy Wiggins, Plexon engineer and wife of Plexon founder Harvey Wiggins, received her undergraduate degree from Jiao Tong where she studied biomedical engineering. The donation will be made in the name of Tracy and Harvey Wiggins.
Shanghai Jiao Tong will use the MEA Workstation to study how internal cell layers of the retina process light intensity and color. It permits 64 channels of neural signals from the cells of the retina, which have been placed on a multi-electrode array (MEA) plate, to be recorded and analyzed in real-time. The system computes and displays statistical features of the response of the retinal cells to light stimulation. Tracy Wiggins’ classmate of 20 years ago, Pei-ji Liang, D. Phil., is now a professor of biomedical engineering at Jiao Tong and is leading the research.

“Plexon’s MEA Workstation will allow us to expand our research in light processing by the retina and ultimately provide more biological knowledge for the application of retinal prostheses to retina degeneration disease,” said Dr. Liang, Professor and Group Head, Laboratory of Neural Information Processing, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University. “The Plexon equipment will facilitate our research by providing real-time neural spike processing and immediate feedback of the progress of our experiments.”

Plexon’s donation of neuroscience research equipment to Jiao Tong is believed to be the first of its kind by a U.S. company to a Chinese university. Plexon has already delivered six Plexon Multichannel Acquisition Processor (MAP) systems to East China Normal University. Several more sales in China are expected in the near future.

“I’m pleased we are able to support scientific research with the donation of the MEA Workstation to my alma mater,” said Tracy Wiggins of Plexon. “Shanghai Jiao Tong was the first university in China to establish an interdisciplinary program in biomedical engineering and is known as the Asian MIT. Coincidently, I received a graduate electrical engineering degree from the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), which has a relationship with Jiao Tong.”

Plexon’s MAP systems are also deployed by the UTD Aging and Memory Research Lab. Shanghai Jiao Tong University, University of Texas at Dallas, Shanghai Zhizu Science-Based Industrial Park and Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce signed a “four-corner” Memorandum of Understanding for joint intellectual and economic development for both regions.

“Plexon’s effort is an important step in the implementation of the joint development,” said Dr. Da Hsuan Feng, Vice President for Research and Graduate Education at UTD. “I am really pleased to see that Plexon has developed such a relationship with one of China’s premier universities.”

Plexon is continuing to build a strong relationship with China and has recently helped sponsor two Chinese conferences – The Third International Symposium on Brain Functional Genomics in Shanghai on May 26, 2005, and The First International Conference and USA-China Joint Workshop on Neural Interface and Control on May 26-28, 2005, in Wuhan, China.