Steven J. Schiff
Steven J. Schiff, MD, PhD
Director, Penn State Center for Neural Engineering
Brush Chair Professor of Engineering
Professor of Neurosurgery
Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics
Professor of Physics (Courtesy Appointment)
Associate of Institute for Cyberscience
W311 Millennium Science Complex
University Park, PA 16802-2131
(814) 865-2481 Danielle Snyder (Center Administration) dlh65 at engr.psu.edu
(814) 863-4210 Office
Send E-Mail sschiff at psu.edu
New 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)
New 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, in press. Preprint available at
ArXiv:1705.05970 [physics.ao-ph], 2017.
New 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.
Recent Paper: Lother S, Schiff SJ, Neuberger T, Jakoba PM, Fidler F. Design of a mobile, homogeneous and efficient electromagnet with a large field-of-view for neonatal low field MR.
Magnetic Resonance Materials in Physics, Biology and Medicine, (2016) 29:691–698.
A readable summary of my work with low field sustainable MRI can be found here.
Recent 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.
Recent 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
Congressional Hearing Book with Testimony on Hydrocephalus from the Congressional Record at the US Government Printing Office.
CSPAN Coverage of Hydrocephalus Hearings August 2, 2011
Recent journal covers:
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
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 NIH 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
See 2013 article and radio piece at Voice of America
See 2012 article in (Spanish or Catalan) “Nuestro cerebro también piensa sin palabras”La Vanguardia or
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
I am a Pediatric Neurosurgeon, with particular interests in understanding the physics of dynamical disease of the nervous system, developing smart prosthetics to treat those diseases, and an interest in global health.
Dynamical Diseases are where the predominant symptomatology manifests as disordered interaction between the elements of the organ in question. My focus is on the nervous system, and grew out of my experience in treating Epilepsy as well as the Spasticity of Cerebral Palsy. Our best surgical treatment offerings for such diseases involves destructive resection, and my goals for many years have centered around the science and engineering of alternatives to such therapies.
Finding better treatments to such dynamical disease requires that we understand the underlying physical principles that govern the normal, and disordered, interactions between elements of the nervous system. I have spent considerable time focusing on the cellular interactions that make up pattern formation in seizures, Parkinson’s disease, and the origin of migraines (spreading depression). I am also deeply involved in learning how to use electrical stimulation to alter such interactions, so that we can design intelligent control algorithms. In human EEG, I have done fundamental work on the signal processing of seizures, discrimination analysis, real time modulation of stimulation based on EEG, and robotic brain-machine interfaces for assistive devices.
An area of special focus of mine is in developing the interdisciplinary fusion of Neural Control Engineering. I recently wrote a book, published by the MIT Press, exploring this intersection between control engineering and dynamical disease of the brain in much detail.
Lastly, I have begun a number of projects to work on improving the diagnosis and treatment of neurosurgical diseases in East Africa. Improving medical care with the constraints of limited resources, through better engineering and image analysis, is a goal that is of broad utility in both the developing and industrialized countries. Furthermore, the under-recognized impact of infectious diseases on creating diseases of the nervous system that we have treated neurosurgically, such as hydrocephalus and epilepsy, is one that I am devoting increasing effort to. I recently received the NIH Director's Pioneer Award for Control of the Neonatal Septisome and Hydrocephalus in sub-Saharan Africa that will enable me to intensively pursue these issues over the coming years.
Penn State Center for Neural Engineering
The Penn State Center for Neural Engineering, an intercollege center bridging the Colleges of Engineering, Medicine and Science, was Chartered in June, 2007. With Professor Bruce J. Gluckman as the Associate Director, the Center occupies 22,000 square feet of space in the new Millennium Sciences Complex, a structure which brings together faculty and laboratories from Materials Science and Life Sciences at Penn State.
With the help of a P30 Research Core Center Grant from NIH in 2009-2010, “Innovations at the Intersection of Neural Engineering, Materials Sci & Medicine”, we have continued to grow and recruit outstanding faculty to the Center. Our present complement in the new facility includes:
- Steven J. Schiff Director
- Bruce J. Gluckman Associate Director
- Robert E. Harbaugh Director, Penn State Institute of the Neurosciences, University Distinguished Professor and Chair, Department of Neurosurgery
- Judith A. Todd Department Head, P. B. Breneman Chair and Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics
- Kevin Alloway, Professor, Neural & Behavioral Science
- Francesco Costanzo, Professor, Engineering Science and Mechanics
- Sean Brennan, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering
- Dezhe Jin, Assistant Professor, Physics
- Patrick Drew, Assistant Professor, Engineering Science and Mechanics
- Alok Sinha, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering
- Jian Yang, Associate Professor, Department of Bioengineering
- Ibrahim Ozbolat, Associate Professor, Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics
- X. Lance Lian, Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering
- Joan Richtsmeier, Professor of Biological Anthropology
- Tim Ryan, Assistant Professor, Biological Anthropology, Geosciences, and Information Sciences and Technology
- Xuemei Huang, Associate Professor of Neurology and Pharmacology
- Nanyin Zhang, Associate Professor of Bioengineering.
- Jack Langelaan, Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering.
- Carina Curto, Associate Professor of Mathematics.
- Vladimir Itskov, Associate Professor of Mathematics.
- Andrew Geronimo, Instructor, Department of Neurosurgery.
Schiff lab People.
- 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:
New Course Fall 2008, 2009, 2011: Neural Control Engineering
New Course Spring 2009, 2012: Neuroethics and Neurolaw
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
- Journal of Computational Neuroscience, Action Editor, 2006-
- Physical Review X, Editorial Board, 2012-, 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-
- NIH BRAIN Initiative, NEI: Implantable Brain Microelectromechanical Magnetic Sensing And Stimulation (MEMS-MAGSS), PI (with Tadigadapa).
- NICHD and Fogarty International Center, “Neurocognitive outcomes and changes in brain and CSF volume after treatment of post-infectious hydrocephalus in Ugandan infants by shunting or ETV/CPC: a randomized prospective trial”. PI (multiple with Warf and Kulkarni). A Phase III randomized clinical trial NCT01936272.
- NIH CRCNS: Model Based Data Assimilation & Control of Sleep-Wake Regulation in Epilepsy, PI (multiple with Gluckman and Alloway).
- Pennsylvania Department of Health, Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) Program, “Defining the Neonatal Septisome and Postinfectious Hydrocephalus”, PI
- Integra Foundation, “Neural ICU Control Engineering”, Co-PI (Harbaugh PI)
- 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
- Nittany Valley Symphony, Viola Section