Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Chair of Bio-Signals and Bio-Systems, Melbourne School of Engineering, University of Melbourne

Professor Anthony (Tony) Burkitt holds the Chair in Bio-Signals and Bio-Systems in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Melbourne since 2007. He was the Director of Bionic Vision Australia (2010-2016), a Special Research Initiative in Bionic Vision Science and Technology of the Australian Research Council (ARC), and he successfully led the project though all of its phases: Project conception, securing $50million in ARC funding, the research and development programs that led to the development of a prototype bionic eye (suprachoroidal retinal implant), the successful implantation in three patients, and the establishment of the company Bionic Vision Technologies (BVT) with US$18million of venture capital for the ongoing commercial and clinical development of the technology.

In addition to his work on the bionic eye, Professor Burkitt’s research encompasses a number of areas of neuroscience and medical bionics, including computational neuroscience, neuroengineering, cochlear-implant speech processing and bio-signal processing for epilepsy. His research has made significant contributions to understanding the behaviour and function of the brain, focusing upon two aspects of how networks of spiking neurons in the brain process information. First, through an analysis of the encoding, transmission, and decoding of information within neuronal systems.Second, through an analysis of how activity (spikes) in neuronal networks changes the network structure through synaptic plasticity, thereby enabling information to be learned. His research has also been instrumental in the development of visual stimulation paradigms for retinal implants, new cochlear implant speech processing strategies, methods for detecting and predicting seizures, and the use of electrical stimulation for seizure abatement in epilepsy.

Professor Burkitt has published over 89 journal papers and has been awarded more than $57.4million of research funding from 19 ARC and NHMRC grants. He is a Board member of the Organization for Computational Neurosciences and Chair of the Program Committee for the annual Computational Neuroscience conference 2015-2017. Professor Burkitt was previously the Deputy Director (2006-2008) of the Bionic Ear Institute (now the Bionics Institute) and held research positions at the Australian National University (1991-1996) and Universities in Germany (Wuppertal University, 1986-1991) and Britain (University of Liverpool, 1983-1986). He completed his PhD in 1983 in Theoretical Physics at Edinburgh University and his undergraduate studies in 1980 in Physics at the Australian National University.

Professor Burkitt was named in 2015 by the Knowledge Society and the Office of the Chief Scientist of Australia in the inaugural Knowledge Nation 100, the one hundred ‘rock stars’ of Australia's top innovators in science and technology. He was also named in The Age Magazine's top 100 list of Melbourne's most influential, inspirational and creative people in 2010.

Experience

  • 2007–present
    Professor, The University of Melbourne
  • 2010–2016
    Director, Bionic Vision Australia
  • 2006–2008
    Assistant Director, Bionic Ear Institute

Education

  • 1996 
    Australian National University, Bachelor of Science - Psychology
  • 1983 
    The University of Edinburgh, Doctor of Philosophy - Theoretical Physics
  • 1979 
    Australian National University, Bachelor of Science - Theoretical Physics

Research Areas

  • Biomedical Engineering (0903)