Dr Thushara Perera – Bionics Institute

Dr Thushara Perera

Research Fellow (Electronics/Software) PhD, MEng (Biomedical), BEng (Electronics, Hons)

Dr Thushara Perera

With expertise in electronic engineering and software development, Dr Thushara Perera develops clinical tools to help optimise and guide treatments for those afflicted with chronic neurological disorders. Much of Thushara’s work is focussed on developing precise instruments to quantify and track patient health. Movement disorder symptoms such as tremor, rigidity, postural instability, and bradykinesia worsen over time and can fluctuate from day-to-day. A clinic visit only allows us to take a snapshot of the patient condition and makes it difficult to determine the best course of treatment. Additionally, clinical trials seeking to establish new therapies often lack monitoring tools to determine efficacy. Thushara is bridging the gap with his healthcare technology which could lead to in-home symptom assessments, similar to monitoring your blood pressure or glucose levels. This technology is currently being used in clinics across Melbourne to trial new therapies for Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis. At the Bionics Institute, his instruments are used to inform the development of a next generation deep brain stimulator that can automatically adjust therapy to suit patient needs.

Thushara has also contributed to the Bionic Vision project, developing the Institute’s bionic eye software platform allowing clinicians to send information to the retinal implant. He was part of the team that designed, manufactured and implanted a state-of-the-art bionic eye in Australia’s first human clinical trial. Witnessing the first bionic eye being successfully switched on and restoring rudimentary vision to a blind participant was one of the most memorable moments in Thushara’s career thus far.

Prior to joining the Bionics Institute, Thushara completed his PhD at La Trobe University investigating a novel technique to monitor depth of anaesthesia in young children. He also worked part time as a Biomedical Engineer at the Royal Children’s Hospital redesigning a unique audiometer to test the hearing of children who have developmental problems.

Research fields of interest

  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Human movement disorders
  • Brain imaging (MRI/CT)
  • Rapid prototyping
  • Wearable technologies
  • Neural prostheses
  • Biomedical device technology
  • Advanced signal processing and automation

 Research projects

Student projects

Awards and honours

  • 2017 Leadership in Innovation & Research Translation
  • 2016 Victoria Fellowship in Life Sciences
  • 2015 Harold Mitchell Travelling Fellowship
  • 2009 Australian Postgraduate Award
  • 2008 Tad Szental Prize in Electronic Engineering
  • 2007 Hooper Memorial Prize
  • 2004 Wanda Henry Memorial Scholarship

Selected publications

Perera, T., J. L. Tan, M. H. Cole, S. A. C. Yohanandan, P. Silberstein, R. Cook, R. Peppard, T. Aziz, T. Coyne, P. Brown, P. A. Silburn, and W. Thevathasan. 2018. Balance control systems in Parkinson’s disease and the impact of pedunculopontine area stimulation. Brain. 141(10): 3009-3022. doi: 10.1093/brain/awy216. Full Text

Sinclair, N. C., H. J. McDermott, K. J. Bulluss, J. B. Fallon, T. Perera, S. S. Xu, P. Brown, and W. Thevathasan. 2018. Subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation evokes resonant neural activity. Annals of neurology. 83(5): 1027-1031. doi: 10.1002/ana.25234. Full Text

Horn, A., N. Li, T. A. Dembek, A. Kappel, C. Boulay, S. Ewert, A. Tietze, A. Husch, T. Perera, W. J. Neumann, M. Reisert, H. Si, R. Oostenveld, C. Rorden, F. C. Yeh, Q. Fang, T. M. Herrington, J. Vorwerk, and A. A. Kuhn. 2018. Lead-DBS v2: Towards a comprehensive pipeline for deep brain stimulation imaging. Neuroimage. 184: 293-316. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.08.068. Full Text

Tan, J. L., T. Perera, J. L. McGinley, S. A. C. Yohanandan, P. Brown, and W. Thevathasan. 2018. Neurophysiological analysis of the clinical pull test. Journal of Neurophysiology: [epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1152/jn.00789.2017. Full Text

Perera, T., W. L. Lee, S. A. C. Yohanandan, A. L. Nguyen, B. Cruse, F. M. C. Boonstra, G. Noffs, A. P. Vogel, S. C. Kolbe, H. Butzkueven, A. Evans, and A. van der Walt. 2018. Validation of a Precision Tremor Measurement System for Multiple Sclerosis. Journal of Neuroscience Methods: [epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2018.09.022.

See more publications by Thushara Perera in ResearchGate and Google Scholar

Invited presentations

Perera T, Yohanandan SAC, Tan JL, Begg DA, Oetomo B, Sinclair NC, Jones M, Vogel AP, Peppard R, McGinley JL, Thevathasan W, McDermott HJ, “Objective Instrumented Measures of Disease Severity in Movement Disorders,” 4th International Conference on Medical Bionics, Brisbane, Australia, 2016.

Perera T, Yohanandan SAC, Tan JL, Begg DA, Oetomo B, Sinclair NC, Jones M, Vogel AP, Peppard R, McGinley JL, Thevathasan W, McDermott HJ, “Wearable Sensors for Parkinson’s Disease,” Rehabilitation Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand 1st Annual Scientific Meeting, Melbourne, Australia, 2016.

Perera T, Yohanandan SAC, McKay CM, Vogel AP, McDermott HJ, “Motion Tracking for Multiple Sclerosis Tremor,” 4th Annual Symposium on Precision Neuroscience, Melbourne, Australia, 2014.

Perera T, Lewis P, Davidson A, Junor P, Bottrell S, “A Stepping Stone to Depth-of-Anaesthesia Monitoring using NIRS,” Australian and New Zealand College of Perfusionists 29th Annual Scientific Meeting, Uluru, Australia, 2012.


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