Rehabilitation and Neural Engineering Laboratory

Douglas J. Weber, PhD

  • Associate Professor, Department of Bioengineering
  • Director, Rehab Neural Engineering Labs

Douglas Weber, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering, and he holds secondary appointments in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Electrical Engineering. He is also a faculty member in the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute, and the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. He established the Rehab Neural Engineering Lab in 2005 when he joined the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Weber recently completed a 4-year term (2013-2017) as a Program Manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Dr. Weber was a founding member of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office, where he created and managed a portfolio of neurotechnology research programs to support the White House BRAIN initiative, launched by President Obama in 2013. Dr. Weber created DARPA’s HAPTIX, ElectRx, and TNT programs, which are developing implantable, injectable, and wearable neurotechnologies that restore natural motor and sensory functions for amputees, enable novel and drug-free therapies for treating inflammatory disease and mental health disorders, and promote plasticity in the brain to enhance learning of complex cognitive skills. Modeled after his research program at RNEL, Dr. Weber’s DARPA programs combine basic neuroscience research with device engineering to create new knowledge and capabilities for restoring and enhancing physical, mental, and cognitive performance in humans.

Dr. Weber received a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Arizona State University and completed post-doctoral training in the Centre for Neuroscience at the University of Alberta. Dr. Weber holds 8 issued United States patents and has published extensively on a wide range of topics spanning sensorimotor neurophysiology, biomechanics, neural engineering, and physical medicine. He has mentored over 100 undergraduate, graduate and medical students and several post-doctoral fellows.

Representative Publications

Link to My NCBI Collections page for complete list of publications (n = 70, h-index = 33)

Research Interest Summary

Bioelectronic medicines, biomechanics, electrophysiology, haptic perception, motor learning, neural coding and computation, neural plasticity, neural prostheses, neuromodulation, neurophysiology, spinal cord injury, stroke

Research Interests

Dr. Weber is broadly interested in understanding the role of sensory feedback in supporting and regulating a wide range of perceptual, motor, cognitive, and autonomic functions. His research combines fundamental neuroscience and engineering research to understand physiological mechanisms underlying sensory perception, feedback control of movement, and neuroplasticity in sensorimotor systems. Knowledge gained from these studies is being applied to invent new technologies and therapies for enhancing sensory and motor functions after stroke, spinal cord injury, or limb loss. These principles are also being applied to develop wearable devices for enhancing sensory, motor, and cognitive functions in healthy humans. Dr. Weber is committed to transitioning outputs of his academic research into practical technologies that support real-world applications, and he works actively with industrial partners to bridge the gap from bench to market.