Pedro Irazoqui is a pioneer in the development of wireless implantable devices with the potential to treat conditions such as epilepsy, glaucoma, and depression. Incoming head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), pending Board of Trustees action, he focuses on leveraging circuit design, telemetry, wireless power, and other tools of electrical engineering to create systems-level medical devices that can be worn or implanted to track patient biomarkers associated with diseases or to deliver therapy.
Irazoqui’s work with epilepsy is centered on preventing Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP), which kills one in 1,000 adults with epilepsy each year. Researchers believe that such sudden death may involve the way seizures reflexes in the vagus nerve – a cranial nerve that splits into many branches below the diaphragm, affecting both respiration and the production of stomach acid. Irazoqui’s solution to preventing this is an implantable device modulates neural activity during a seizure, preventing death.
For glaucoma, Irazoqui is focused on lessening fluid buildup in the eye, which increases pressure on the optic nerve, potentially damaging it and leading to blindness. To combat this, he has created a set of special contact lenses and eyeglasses that, when worn together, create an electromagnetic field and current that helps lessen production, and increase drainage of fluid in the eye. Along with helping patients avoid the risks and irritation that comes with surgery and eye drops – the current norms for treating glaucoma – the system only takes about 15 minutes to work.
Irazoqui joined Johns Hopkins from Purdue University, where he was the Reilly Professor of Biomedical Engineering, as well as served as associate head of research (2013-2018) for the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, and as interim head (2018-2019) for the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He also founded the Center for Implantable Devices in 2010, and held the title of director until 2021.
Irazoqui is the co-founder and CTO of Bionode, LLC, which aims to commercialize electroceutical therapy for glaucoma. He is CSO for Neurava, LLC which is commercializing diagnostic and therapeutic devices for SUDEP. He serves as an associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, where he provides management of the peer review of manuscripts from members of that technical communities. Irazoqui has also served as an external advisory board member for the School of Engineering at the University of Edinburgh and is currently on the board for the bioengineering department at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, where he provides mentorship and advice on growing graduate programs.
Irazoqui received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering (2003) from University of California, Los Angeles. He earned both his master’s (1999) and bachelor’s degrees (1997) in Electrical Engineering at University of New Hampshire, Durham.