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University of California-Irvine said today the National Science Foundation awarded $8 million to a UCI-led consortium to develop a system that can restore walking ability and sensation in individuals with spinal cord injuries.

It’s the largest NSF award received by faculty researchers in the UCI engineering and medicine schools, according to the school.

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The five-year grant, sponsored by the NSF’s Cyber-Physical Systems Frontier program, will be divided among UCI, California Institute of Technology and the University of Southern California. UCI will get the lion’s share, with approximately $5.8 million.

The new initiative will focus on converting existing technology into a brain implant. To test the technology, the UCI team will collaborate with Caltech and USC on clinical studies in volunteers with spinal cord injury.

The implant could also have applications beyond spinal cord injury, including stroke and traumatic brain injury.