Dr Joel Villalobos – Bionics Institute

Dr Joel Villalobos

Research Fellow BEng 2002, PhD 2012

Dr Joel Villalobos

Joel is a biomedical engineer with experience in preclinical research in the medical bionics field. As a research fellow, Joel’s work has focused on developing improved Deep Brain Stimulation implants for Parkinson’s disease therapy, as well as developing electrodes for a suprachoroidal Bionic Eye. Joel completed his PhD (Melbourne) in 2012 on the safety evaluation of a suprachoroidal retinal prosthesis. This work lead to a first-in-human clinical trial with the technology at the Bionics Institute. Recently Joel started looking into the possibility of using peripheral nerve stimulation technology to treat type 2 Diabetes.

At the Bionics Institute Joel has been able to complement his interest in physiology with his formal background in Electronic Systems Engineering (cum laude, Tec de Monterrey, Mexico) to develop medical device technologies. Prior to his PhD in biomedical engineering, Joel worked as an electronics design engineer and software developer in an engineering firm with clients in the automotive, manufacturing and building automation industries. He has also worked in the construction industry where he fine-tuned his CAD skills and understanding of structural design.

Research fields of interest

  • Development of neural stimulation therapies
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Bionic vision
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Electrode-tissue interfaces
  • Medical devices materials and technology

Student projects


Selected Publications

  1. Shepherd, R. K., J. Villalobos, O. Burns, and D. Nayagam. 2018. The development of neural stimulators: a review of preclinical safety and efficacy studies. Journal of Neural Engineering: [epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1088/1741-2552/aac43c.
  2. Abbott, Carla J., David A. X. Nayagam, Chi D. Luu, Stephanie B. Epp, Richard A. Williams, Cesar M. Salinas-LaRosa, Joel Villalobos, Ceara McGowan, Mohit N. Shivdasani, Owen Burns, Jason Leavens, Jonathan Yeoh, Alice A. Brandli, Patrick C. Thien, Jenny Zhou, Helen Feng, Chris E. Williams, Robert K. Shepherd, and Penelope J. Allen. 2018. Safety Studies for a 44-Channel Suprachoroidal Retinal Prosthesis: A Chronic Passive Study. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 59(3): 1410-1424. doi: 10.1167/iovs.17-23086. Full Text
  3. Fox, K., H. Meffin, O. Burns, C. J. Abbott, P. J. Allen, N. L. Opie, C. McGowan, J. Yeoh, A. Ahnood, C. D. Luu, R. Cicione, A. L. Saunders, M. McPhedran, L. Cardamone, J. Villalobos, D. J. Garrett, D. A. Nayagam, N. V. Apollo, K. Ganesan, M. N. Shivdasani, A. Stacey, M. Escudie, S. Lichter, R. K. Shepherd, and S. Prawer. 2016. Development of a Magnetic Attachment Method for Bionic Eye Applications. Artificial Organs. 40(3): E12-24.
  4. Villalobos, J., J. B. Fallon, D. A. Nayagam, M. N. Shivdasani, C. D. Luu, P. J. Allen, R. K. Shepherd, and C. E. Williams. 2014. Cortical activation following chronic passive implantation of a wide-field suprachoroidal retinal prosthesis. Journal of Neural Engineering. 11(4): 046017.
  5. Saunders, A. L., C. E. Williams, W. Heriot, R. Briggs, J. Yeoh, D. A. Nayagam, M. McCombe, J. Villalobos, O. Burns, C. D. Luu, L. N. Ayton, M. McPhedran, N. L. Opie, C. McGowan, R. K. Shepherd, R. Guymer, and P. J. Allen. 2014. Development of a surgical procedure for implantation of a prototype suprachoroidal retinal prosthesis. Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology. 42(7): 665-74. doi: 10.1111/ceo.12287. Full Text
  6. Nayagam, D. A., R. A. Williams, P. J. Allen, M. N. Shivdasani, C. D. Luu, C. M. Salinas-LaRosa, S. Finch, L. N. Ayton, A. L. Saunders, M. McPhedran, C. McGowan, J. Villalobos, J. B. Fallon, A. K. Wise, J. Yeoh, J. Xu, H. Feng, R. Millard, M. McWade, P. C. Thien, C. E. Williams, and R. K. Shepherd. 2014. Chronic electrical stimulation with a suprachoroidal retinal prosthesis: a preclinical safety and efficacy study. PLoS ONE. 9(5): e97182. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097182. Full Text
  7. Ayton, L. N., P. J. Blamey, R. H. Guymer, C. D. Luu, D. A. Nayagam, N. C. Sinclair, M. N. Shivdasani, J. Yeoh, M. F. McCombe, R. J. Briggs, N. L. Opie, J. Villalobos, P. N. Dimitrov, M. Varsamidis, M. A. Petoe, C. D. McCarthy, J. G. Walker, N. Barnes, A. N. Burkitt, C. E. Williams, R. K. Shepherd, and P. J. Allen. 2014. First-in-human trial of a novel suprachoroidal retinal prosthesis. PLoS ONE. 9(12): e115239. Full Text
  8. Villalobos, J., D. A. Nayagam, P. J. Allen, P. McKelvie, C. D. Luu, L. N. Ayton, A. L. Freemantle, M. McPhedran, M. Basa, C. C. McGowan, R. K. Shepherd, and C. E. Williams. 2013. A wide-field suprachoroidal retinal prosthesis is stable and well tolerated following chronic implantation. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 54(5): 3751-62. doi: 10.1167/iovs.12-10843. Full Text
  9. Nayagam, D. A., I. Durmo, C. McGowan, R. A. Williams, and R. K. Shepherd. 2015. Techniques for processing eyes implanted with a retinal prosthesis for localized histopathological analysis: Part 2 Epiretinal implants with retinal tacks. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE(96): doi: 10.3791/52348. Full Text
  10. Villalobos, J., P. J. Allen, M. F. McCombe, M. Ulaganathan, E. Zamir, D. C. Ng, R. K. Shepherd, and C. E. Williams. 2012. Development of a surgical approach for a wide-view suprachoroidal retinal prosthesis: evaluation of implantation trauma. Graefe’s archive for clinical and experimental ophthalmology = Albrecht von Graefes Archiv fur klinische und experimentelle Ophtha
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