Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Researchers at Oxford University have received a prestigious Wellcome Innovator Grant for investigating the role of the pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN) – a brainstem nucleus – in human consciousness.

The study is a collaboration between Neurosurgery (Associate Professor Alex Green at the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, NDS), Engineering (Professor Tim Denison at the Department of Engineering Science and the MRC Brain Network Dynamics Unit), and Neurology (Dr Damian Jenkins at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences). It builds on pilot data from Dr Alceste Deli who, during her DPhil, has shown that PPN stimulation can alter sleep and arousal states.

The project will involve a 10-subject first-in-man clinical trial of PPN stimulation in patients with minimally conscious state (MCS) following brain injury (trauma or stroke) and will involve further development of a Deep Brain Stimulation investigational system called the ‘Picostim-DyNeuMo’ that was developed in a strategic collaboration between Professor Denison and Bioinduction, Ltd, a UK-based company developing implantable medical devices. The Picostim-DyNeuMo embeds instrumentation that enables novel clinical neuroscience using therapeutic neurostimulators.

The research team aim to identify biomarkers that signify arousal state, within the brain and on EEG, and to develop ‘closed-loop’ stimulation patterns that optimise increased arousal and improve sleep. The device will also take into account circadian rhythms that are often disrupted in patients with MCS.

The trial will be supported by the Surgical Intervention Trials Unit (SITU) at NDS (Ms Lucy Davies) and there will be an ethical component led by Professor Julian Savulescu at the Oxford Martin School. Dr Martin Gillies from NDS will also be involved in the running of the project.

The patients in the trial will be implanted with Deep Brain Stimulating electrodes (connected to an Implantable Pulse Generator) into the PPN (brainstem) and signals from the brain (local field potentials), EEG (electroencephalogram) and other signals, such as physical activity, will be used to control the system in a ‘closed loop’ manner. 

The patients in the trial will be implanted with Deep Brain Stimulating electrodes (connected to an Implantable Pulse Generator) into the PPN (brainstem) and signals from the brain (local field potentials), EEG (electroencephalogram) and other signals, such as physical activity, will be used to control the system in a ‘closed loop’ manner.

Similar stories

New reporting guidelines developed to improve AI in healthcare settings

New reporting guidelines, jointly published in Nature Medicine and the BMJ by Oxford researchers, will ensure that early studies on using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to treat real patients will give researchers the information needed to develop AI systems safely and effectively.

Results of the REF 2021: congratulations and thank you

Today, the UK funding bodies have published the results of the UK’s most recent national research assessment exercise, the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.

Another successful year for SITU NDS

The Surgical Intervention Trials Unit in the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences (SITU NDS) has had another successful year, now running ten randomised controlled trials across surgical specialties and securing a total of £32 million in current peer-reviewed grants.

Blog posts

Lights, camera, action! My journey into video production

Dr Hannah McGivern provides a 'behind-the-scenes' account of her experience producing the video 'Journey of a QUOD Sample: Donating to Transplant Research', supported by the funds from the University of Oxford Public Engagement with Research (PER) Seed Fund.

Mentoring in practice

NDS has launched a new, interdepartmental mentoring scheme called RECOGNISE. In this podcast, Gemma Horbatowski (HR Advisor) interviews Monica Dolton (Programme Manager and Research Project Manager) about her experiences of mentor-mentee relationships.

Wrap up of 2021

After a brilliant year of hard work and dedication, the SITU team has done some reflection on 2021, focusing on key events, trial progression, and more. Read on to discover how the year 2021 went for the SITU team...