About 19 months ago, a brain-computer interface (BCI) designed at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), Pennsylvania, allowed a woman with quadriplegia, Jan Scheuermann, to control a robotic arm with her thoughts. Now, a bioengineer at Pitt has been awarded a five-year, $2.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to advance the technology of BCIs, which is poised to help other patients with quadriplegia or amputated limbs. Xinyan “Tracy” Cui, PhD, an associate professor of bioengineering and the grant’s primary investigator, will focus on the microelectrode arrays-the brain implants that act as the interface connecting the brain to the machine or device that performs the function. Research has shown that the microelectrode arrays can cause an inflammatory response in the brain and cause damage to neurons, which weakens the link. The harm to the patient isn’t significant, but poorer recordings of neural impulses can limit the functionality of the technology. Cui will explore ways to coat the microelectrodes with biological molecules to better maintain the connection between the brain implants and computers, and perhaps strengthen that connection.