In Hong Yang Earns NSF CAREER Award for Bioelectronics Project

In Hong Yang, Assistant Professor in the William States Lee College of Engineering, earned the prestigious NSF CAREER Award in January of this year to support his investigations in neuromodulation, which is one of the fastest-growing areas of medicine. Yang’s proposal entitled “CAREER: Magnetic Stimulation and Myelination” was awarded $450,710 for a five-year study beginning 2023.

Neuromodulation, or intervention of nerve activity, addresses pain and its sources, often nerve related. By manipulating diseased nerve tissues, the nerve can be repaired and the pain can be reduced.

However, neuromodulation has most commonly relied upon methods that are inherently invasive, because few options exist. Until now.

Yang is exploring a much less invasive approach using magnetic stimulation to support myelin, which is analogous to the insulation for nerves. With the support of the NSF award, Yang’s Magnetic Stimulation and Myelination (“MSTIM”) project will explore ways to protect, repair and regenerate nerves through his novel technology.

NSF logo

Yang is also pursuing whether electrical impulses that directly alter the pain signal may become a major source of treatment. Changing the path of pain through bioelectronics, rather than drugs or invasive techniques, has become his passion and research focus. Yang is now inspired to discover if this type of treatment can be an answer to treating any nerve-related condition.

“Ultimately, this research will generate techniques and tools that will advance medical device development and lead to innovative treatments for neurological diseases,” said Yang. He explained that academics is also significant to the growth of the field. “Educational components, including hands-on training, are key to sustaining and expanding neural engineering research at UNC Charlotte.”

By advancing bioengineering technology, Yang will help improve the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of patients.

Image above:

From left, Taylor Lokai (UG), Bayne Albin (UG), Khayazaran Qubbaj (Ph.D), Arjun Tiwari (Postdoc), In Hong Yang.

Dr. Yang and team image neurons using ultra-fast fluorescent microscope.

The goal of the Center for Biomedical Engineering and Science is to advance biomedical engineering research, development, and practice using a collaboration between academia and biomedical research institutions in the Charlotte region.

CAREER awards are the NSF’s most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.