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Steven J. Schiff

We are redirecting our efforts in our Predictive Personalized Public Health (P3H): project towards more effective control strategies for the Coronavirus epidemic. We will push out helpful results as soon as they are ready using pre-print servers. I will aggregate those links here:
A Poisson Kalman filter for disease surveillance, Physical Review Research, accepted September 13, 2020.
Identifiability of infection model parameters early in an epidemic

Steven J. Schiff, MD, PhD
Brush Chair Professor of Engineering
(In Memory of Harvey Brush 2019)

Center for Neural Engineering
Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics
Professor of Neurosurgery
Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics
Professor of Physics (Courtesy Appointment)
Associate of Institute for Cyberscience
Founding Director, Penn State Center for Neural Engineering 2007-2019

Honorary Recognized Teacher, University of Liverpool
Honorary Professor, Mbarara University of Science and Technology

W311 Millennium Science Complex
Pollock Road
University Park, PA 16802-2131
(814) 865-2481 Rebecca Benson (Center Administration) rle4 at
(814) 863-4210 Office
Send E-Mail sschiff at

I am a Pediatric Neurosurgeon with particular interests in Epilepsy, Hydrocephalus, Sustainable Health Engineering and Global Health. I wrote the first book on Neural Control Engineering, published by the MIT Press in 2012, serve on a few too many editorial boards and am a fellow of a few too many professional organizations. I received the NIH Director's Pioneer and Transformative Awards in 2015 and 2018, which have enabled me to focus on sustainable control of infant infections in the developing world. Such infections appear to generate the largest group of infant hydrocephalus cases and the greatest need for neurosurgery in young children worldwide. When time permits I play the viola in the Nittany Valley Symphony in an out of tune manner.

Google Scholar Citations
My Bibliography NCBI

New Paper: Schiff SJ A Surgeon's Woodstock Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons, February 1, 2020.

Recent Paper: Kulkarni AV, Schiff SJ, Mbabazi-Kabachelor E, Mugamba J, Ssenyonga P, Donnelly R, Levenbach J, Monga V, Peterson M, MacDonald M, Cherukuri V, Warf BC. Endoscopic Treatment versus Shunting for Infant Hydrocephalus in Uganda, New England Journal of Medicine, 377:2456-64, 2017. See Quick Take Video Summary

Media Coverage: NPR news, Penn State News, Futurity, Medpage Today, Vector (Boston Children's Hospital), Europa Press (in Spanish)

Recent Paper: Obungoloch, J., Harper, J. R., Consevage, S., Savukov, I. M., Neuberger, T., Tadigadapa, S., and Schiff, S. J. (2018). Design of a sustainable prepolarizing magnetic resonance imaging system for infant hydrocephalus. Magnetic Resonance Materials in Physics, Biology and Medicine.
For context, see
ISMRM Plenary Lecture in Paris 2018: "Sustainable Low-field MRI for Point of Care Diagnostics"
Dr Johnes Obungoloch, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda
Netherlands Collaborators

Recent Paper: Whalen AJ, Xiao Y, Kadji H, Dahlem M, Gluckman BJ, Schiff SJ, Control of Spreading Depression with Electrical Fields, Scientific Reports, 8769, 2018.

A readable popular summary of these results can be found here.

Worth-a-Read Paper: Ssentongo P, Muwanguzi AJB, Eden U, Sauer T, Bwanga G, Kateregga G, Aribo L, Ojara M, Mugerwa WK, Schiff SJ. Changes in Ugandan Climate Rainfall at the Village and Forest Level. Scientific Reports, 3551 (2018).
A readable popular summary of these results can be found here.

Worth-a-Read Paper: Ssentongo P, Robuccio AE, Thuku G, Sim DG, Nabi A, Bahari F, Shanmugasundaram B, Billard MW, Geronimo A, Short KW, Drew PJ, Baccon J, Weinstein SL, Gilliam FG, Stoute JA, Chinchilli VM, Read AF, Gluckman BJ, Schiff SJ. A Murine Model to Study Epilepsy and SUDEP Induced by Malaria Infection. Scientific Reports 7:43652, 2017.

A readable popular summary of these results can be found here.

Worth-a-Read Paper: Whalen AJ, Brennan SN, Sauer TD, Schiff SJ. Observability and Controllability of Nonlinear Networks: The Role of Symmetry. Physical Review X, 5, 011005.

A readable popular summary of these results can be found here.
A Code Archive for this paper is available here.
Video of recent International Workshop on Seizure Prediction (IWSP7) Lecture describing these results.

Worth-a-Read Paper: Wei Y,Ullah G, Schiff SJ. Unification of Neuronal Spikes, Seizures, and Spreading Depression. Journal of Neuroscience, 34:11733-11743, 2014.

A readable description of these results can be found here.
A Code Archive for this paper is available here.
Video of recent Fields Institute Lecture describing these results.
Video of recent talk at Festschrift for Jack Cowan at Banff International Research Station.

My book was published in 2012: Neural Control Engineering, The MIT Press

Physics Today Book Review December 2012 by Jack Cowan
Amazon Reviews Amazon Amazon Kindle Edition
MIT Press MIT Press eBook A Matlab Book:The Mathworks Google Books Preview
Errata Lecture Slides Code Archive

House Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights hearings August 2, 2011
Hearing Book Congressional Hearing Book with Testimony on Hydrocephalus from the Congressional Record at the US Government Printing Office.
CSPAN Coverage of Hydrocephalus Hearings August 2, 2011CSPAN Coverage of Hydrocephalus Hearings August 2, 2011

Cool journal covers:

Journal of Neurosurgery 2015 Volumetric brain analysis in neurosurgery: Part 1 Part 2Part 3
mandell_et_al_dynamics_brain_csf_fluid_growth_j_neurosurgery_2010_cover.jpg article li_et_al_association_of_bacteria_with_hydrocephalus_in_ugandan_infants_j_neurosurg_peds_2011_cover.jpg articlearticle

News Articles:

See my 2019Big 10 Network Debut

See 2019In Memory of Harvey Brush 2019

See 2018 Penn State article on the NIH Director's Transformative Award for Predictive Personalized Public Health (P3H): A Novel Paradigm To Treat Infectious Disease, and my Twitter and movie debut courtesy of Penn State.

See 2017 article on new NWO Open Mind project with investigators in the Netherlands on MRI for Africa
See 2017 article A neurosurgeon and an engineer walk into a lab
See 2017 article on post-malarial epilepsy 589422164
See 2017 Penn State Research News article on NIH BRAIN Initiative project on Implantable Brain Microelectromechanical Magnetic Sensing and Stimulation entitled A Neurosurgeon and an Electrical Engineer Walk into a Lab.
See 2015 Penn State News article on the NIH Director's Pioneer Award for Neonatal Sepsis and Postinfectious Hydrocephalus , and my YouTube debut courtesy of Penn State, regarding my project Control of the Neonatal Septisome and Hydrocephalus in sub-Saharan Africa.
See 2015 article on Low Cost MRI Scanning for the Developing World from the Materials for Humanity article in the Penn State Materials Research Institute Bulletin Spring 2015
See 2013 article at United Nations Earth News UNEarthNews UN Earth News
See 2013 article and radio piece at Voice of America Voice of America
See 2012 article in (Spanish or Catalan) “Nuestro cerebro también piensa sin palabras”La Vanguardia or La Vanguardia
The route to Africa and the Viola in Penn State News
See Spring 2010 article in Penn State Research Magazine
See Fall 2010 article in Engineering Penn State Magazine
See June 2008 article at Technology Review

Penn State Center for Neural Engineering

I was the founding director of the Penn State Center for Neural Engineering, an intercollege center bridging the Colleges of Engineering, Medicine and Science, was Chartered in June, 2007. I stepped down as Director at the end of 2019. Now led by Professor Bruce J. Gluckman, the Center occupies 22,000 square feet of space in the Millennium Sciences Complex, a structure which brings together faculty and laboratories from Materials Science and Life Sciences at Penn State.

Schiff lab People.

US Patents

  • 5,522,863 Pulsating behavior monitoring and modification system for neural networks
  • 5,797,965 Suppression of epileptiform activity
  • 5,800,459 Electric field control of epiletiform activity
  • 6,873,872 Adaptive electric field modulation of neural systems (methods)
  • 6,665,562 Adaptive electric field modulation of neural systems (device)
  • 8,718,755 Methods and Devices for Determining Brain State

And the latest model-based control patent:

  • 8,588,899 Model based control of Parkinson's disease

Teaching and Curricula:

Course Fall 2008, 2009, 2011: Neural Control Engineering

Course Spring 2009, 2012: Neuroethics and Neurolaw

Neural Engineering PhD Track in Engineering Sciences and Mechanics

MD-PhD Track in Engineering Sciences and Mechanics


Implanting Change: The Ethics of Neural Prosthetics 2007

International Workshop on Seizure Prediction, 2011

Mathematical Biosciences Institute Neuroscience Year 2012-2013


Publications | Invited Contributions and Reviews

Education & Training:

  • SB, MIT, 1977
  • MD, Duke University, 1980
  • PhD (Physiology, G. Somjen), Duke University, 1985
  • General Surgery Internship, Duke University, 1981
  • Neurosurgery Residency, Duke University, 1989
  • Pediatric Neurosurgery Fellowship, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 1990


  • Diplomat of the American Board of Neurological Surgery, 1992

Editorial Boards:

  • Journal of Computational Neuroscience, Action Editor, 2006-
  • Physical Review X, Editorial Board, 2012-2018, Physical Review Letters, Divisional Associate Editor, 2006-2012, Physical Review E, Editorial Board 2000-2005.
  • Journal of Neural Engineering, Editorial Board, 2013-
  • Neural Computation, Associate Editor, 2015-

Selected Recent Funding:


  • Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS), 1994
  • Independent Scientist Awards, National Institutes of Health, 1997, 2003
  • Listed in 'Guide to America's Top Physicians', 2nd Edition, 2005, published by the Consumers' Research Council of America.
  • Listed in 'Guide to America's Top Surgeons', 3rd Edition, 2006, published by the Consumers' Research Council of America.
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society, 2005
    • Citation: “For his contributions to the physical and biological understanding and control of the dynamics of neural signals in the brain.
  • Fellow of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (FAANS), 2010
  • Listed in 'Guide to America's Top Surgeons', 8th Edition, 2011, published by the Consumers' Research Council of America.
  • Fellow of the The American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2012
    • Citation: ”For distinguished contributions to the interface of neuroscience, physics, engineering, and medicine, and in particular the applications of control engineering to dynamical diseases of the brain.
  • Elected to the American Academy of Neurological Surgery, 2014
  • Honorary African Name: Musaazi, Fumbe Clan, 2018



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