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Annual Symposium

11th Annual Surgery, Intervention, and Engineering Symposium

Date: Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Digital program


Martha Morrell MD
Clinical Professor of Neurology, Stanford University
Chief Medical Officer, NeuroPace

Crossing the academia-industry bridge: Delivering a brain-responsive neurostimulator for intractable epilepsy


Relief of suffering from illness or disability is  a primary motivation for many who have entered the broad field of medical/biomedical science. This may take the form of fundamental scientific discovery, direct patient care, or of discovery, development and delivery  of new therapies that bring benefit. In some instances, therapies provide incremental benefit and less often, true innovation. The efforts to create better treatments for patients in need requires multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional collaboration. If the worlds of academia and industry are seen as separate in intent and motivation, and if these each views the other with distrust, then new therapies and solutions are at risk into falling in the “Valley of Death” between discovery and deliver. Creating obstacles rather than bridges between the 2 entities may deprive persons of therapies that offer relief.

The importance of collaboration between academia and industry will be discussed by sharing the story of a start-up company formed to develop of a responsive brain neurostimulator for persons with drug resistant epilepsy. The story is one of discovery, development and delivery of a novel therapy for a group of patients with a great clinical need. Emphasis will be given to the importance of a team with diverse expertise, the unexpectedly long path filled with accomplishments and disappointments, and the steps that led to eventual success.


Dr. Morrell has been Chief Medical Officer of NeuroPace, Inc. and a Clinical Professor of Neurology at Stanford University since July 2004. Before joining NeuroPace, she was the Caitlin Tynan Doyle Professor of Clinical Neurology at Columbia University and Director of the Columbia Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. Previously she was on the faculty of the Stanford University School of Medicine where she served as Director of the Stanford Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. A graduate of Stanford Medical School, she completed residency training in Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as fellowship training in EEG and epilepsy.

Dr. Morrell has been actively involved in helping to bring new therapies to patients. Her responsibilities at NeuroPace include all clinical and pre-clinical research for a novel responsive neurostimulator for the treatment of medically uncontrolled epilepsy. She has been actively involved in investigational trials of new epilepsy therapies as an academic investigator, and has authored or coauthored more than 150 publications.

Service to professional societies includes member of the Board of Directors of the American Epilepsy Society, member and Chair of the Board of the Epilepsy Foundation, member of the Council of the American Neurological Association and Chair of the Epilepsy Section of the American Academy of Neurology. She is an elected Ambassador for Epilepsy of the International League Against Epilepsy and received the American Epilepsy Society’s 2007 Service Award for outstanding leadership and service. She is the immediate past-Chair of the American Society for Experimental Neurotherapeutics.