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Bionic Skeletons and Beyond: Emerging Technologies for Spinal Cord Injury

Bionic Skeletons and Beyond: Emerging Technologies for Spinal Cord Injury

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Aspen Meadows Resort

Presented By

Presented by The Aspen Brain Forum Foundation, Science Translational Medicine, and the New York Academy of Sciences


Amanda Boxtel's life changed at the age of 24 after a skiing accident left her paralyzed from the waist down. However, Amanda has been able to stand and walk again, thanks to a new bionic exoskeleton technology — a wearable robot that helps to keep her body in a normal standing position and responds to her small movements to initiate walking. While current technologies have just begun to integrate man and machine, the future of spinal cord rehabilitation is also bright. Using a combination of naturally-occurring neurochemicals and electrical stimulation, Grégoire Courtine is rehabilitating severed spinal cords in paralyzed rats, with treatments for human patients not far on the horizon.

Join Orla Smith, Managing Editor of Science Translational Medicine, as she moderates a panel featuring Nathan Harding, co-founder of Ekso Bionics; Grégoire Courtine, Professor at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology; and public speaker, ski instructor and co-founder of Challenge Aspen, Amanda Boxtel. This lively discussion will feature both live and video demonstrations of the technologies in action. Panelists will share their personal stories, discuss the process of bringing the science from idea to market, and provide different perspectives on how these new technologies can benefit the public now and in the future to come.

Open to the public, reception to follow. Registration is required.

This public lecture is part of the conference, Accelerating Translational Neurotechnology: Fourth Annual Aspen Brain Forum. If you would like to register for the full event, which includes this lecture, please visit the conference website.

Registration Pricing

Student / Postdoc / Fellow$25

Presented by

  • NYAS


* Presentation titles and times are subject to change.

September 18, 2013

5:00 PM


5:30 PM

Welcome Remarks

5:45 PM

Bionic Skeletons and Beyond: Emerging Technologies for Spinal Cord Injury
Moderator: Orla M. Smith, PhD, Science Translational Medicine
Amanda Boxtel, Ambassador, Ekso Bionics
Grégoire Courtine, PhD, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL)
Nathan Harding, PhD, Ekso Bionics

6:45 PM

Networking Reception

7:30 PM




Orla M. Smith, PhD

Science Translational Medicine


Amanda Boxtel

Ekso Bionics

Amanda is a professional in sharing her life experiences to motivate and inspire audiences. She is an expert on accepting change and embracing it, how to turn conflicts into opportunities and how to live your most passionate life. Australian Born, Amanda is a nationally recognized speaker who captivates her audiences with her stories, weaves in the valuable lessons she has learned along the way, and warms their hearts with laughter and compassion. She focuses her energy to present fresh material in a polished style.

On February 27, 1992, Amanda Boxtel's life took a dramatic turn when a freak somersault while downhill skiing left her paralyzed. Two year's later, Amanda went on to co-found Challenge Aspen, which has grown into a successful million dollar non-profit organization that enables individuals with disabilities to recreate in Colorado, inspiring them to realize their potential despite adversity.

Amanda teaches skiing to others with similar disabilities from her mono-ski and through Challenge Aspen's global outreach she has helped establish adaptive skiing programs in Iceland, Chile and Argentina. In 2000 Amanda was the Colorado Ski Country USA Adaptive Athlete of the Year. She carried the Olympic torch in 2002 on her mono-ski. She holds her vision of making possibilities for individuals with disabilities, reaching the far corners of the earth, touching lives and creating disability awareness within communities.

Grégoire Courtine, PhD

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL)

Grégoire Courtine was originally trained in Mathematics and Physics, but received his PhD degree in Experimental Medicine from the University of Pavia, Italy, and the INSERM Plasticity and Motricity, in France, in 2003. From 2004-2007, he held a Post-doctoral Fellow position at the Brain Research Institute, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) under the supervision of Dr. Reggie Edgerton, and was a research associate for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (CDRF). In 2008, he became Assistant Professor at the faculty of Medicine of the University of Zurich where he established his own research laboratory. In 2012, he was nominated Associate Professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) where he holds the International paraplegic foundation (IRP) chair in spinal cord repair at the Center for Neuroprosthetics and the Brain Mind Institute. He published several articles proposing radically new approaches for restoring function after spinal cord injury, which were discussed in national and international press extensively. He received numerous honors and awards such as the 2007 UCLA Chancellor's award for excellence in post-doctoral research and the 2009 Schellenberg Prize for his innovative research in spinal cord injury awarded by the International Foundation of Research in Paraplegia.

Nathan Harding, PhD

Ekso Bionics

Nathan Harding is the Co-founder and CEO of Ekso Bionics. Nathan is the co-inventor of the company's core exoskeleton technology. His technical and leadership skills were honed working at the Department of Energy, Carnegie Mellon's Field Robotics Center, Berkeley Process Control, and the Berkeley Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory. Nathan holds six patents and has another eight pending.

Nathan received his bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and his master's in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley


Promotional Partner

Alzheimer Research Forum

Presented by

  • NYAS

Travel & Lodging

Event Location

Aspen Meadows Resort
845 Meadows Road
Aspen, CO 81611

Directions to the Aspen Meadows Resort.

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Hotel Aspen
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Phone: 800.527.7369

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The Annabelle Inn
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The Limelight Lodge
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St. Moritz Lodge
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