Marco Capogrosso, PhD

  • Assistant Professor
  • Director, Spinal Cord Stimulation Laboratory

Marco Capogrosso, PhD, joined the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery as an assistant professor in January of 2020. He completed his doctoral studies in biomedical engineering and robotics at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy. His doctorate work focused on the implementation of a computational framework to support the design of peripheral and central neural interfaces for sensory and motor applications.

After the receiving his PhD, Dr. Capogrosso completed his post-doctoral training at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland where he worked on the development of brain spinal interfaces for the restoration of voluntary motor control in animals and humans with spinal cord injury. Before joining the University of Pittsburgh, he directed his own research group as a research faculty at the primate center of the University of Fribourg, Switzerland and was a manager of the primate platform. He is now director of the Spinal Cord Stimulation Laboratory and part of the Rehab and Neural Engineering Labs of the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Capogrosso's publications can be reviewed through Google Scholar.

Specialized Areas of Interest

Neuroprosthetics; computer models of electrical stimulation; arm paralysis; spinal cord injury; brain computer interfaces, motor control.

Professional Organization Membership

Society for Neuroscience

Education & Training

  • BA, Physics (cum laude) Università di Pisa, Italy, 2007
  • MS, Applied Physics (cum laude) Università di Pisa, Italy, 2009
  • PhD, Engineering, Institute of Biorobotics, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, 2013
  • Post-Doc, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland, 2016

Honors & Awards

  • Senior Vice Chancellor’s Research Seminar Award, University of Pittsburgh 2023
  • Outstanding Reviewer Award, The Journal of Neural Engineering 2020
  • European Research Council Starting Grant Award, 2019
  • Career Award, Technological Advances in Spinal Cord Injury, Lupicaia Foundation 2018
  • MIT 10 Best Breakthrough Technologies, Wireless Brain-Spine Interface, 2017
  • Swiss National Science Foundation Ambizione Fellowship, 2016
  • Best Post-Doc Paper, NCCR Robotics, 2014, 2016
  • Finalist, Tomorrow's PI Prize, Swiss Life Science Annual Meeting, 2015

Selected Publications

Powell MP, Verma N, Sorensen E, Carranza E, Boos A, Fields DP, Roy S, Ensel S, Barra B, Balzer J, Goldsmith J, Friedlander RM, Wittenberg GF, Fisher LE, Krakauer JW, Gerszten PC, Pirondini E, Weber DJ, Capogrosso M. Epidural stimulation of the cervical spinal cord for post-stroke upper-limb paresisNat Med 29(3):689-699, 2023.

Barra B, Conti S, Perich MG, Zhuang K, Schiavone G, Fallegger F, Galan K, James ND, Barraud Q, Delacombaz M, Kaeser M, Rouiller EM, Milekovic T, Lacour S, Bloch J, Courtine G, Capogrosso M. Epidural electrical stimulation of the cervical dorsal roots restores voluntary upper limb control in paralyzed monkeysNat Neurosci 25(7):924-934, 2022.

Pirondini E, Carranza E, Balaguer JM, Sorensen E, Weber DJ, Krakauer JW, Capogrosso M. Poststroke arm and hand paresis: should we target the cervical spinal cord? Trends Neurosci 45(8):568-578, 2022.

Badi M, Wurth S, Scarpato I, Roussinova E, Losanno E, Bogaard A, Delacombaz M, Borgognon S, C Vanc Ara P, Fallegger F, Su DK, Schmidlin E, Courtine G, Bloch J, Lacour SP, Stieglitz T, Rouiller EM, Capogrosso M, Micera S. Intrafascicular peripheral nerve stimulation produces fine functional hand movements in primates. Sci Transl Med 13(617):eabg6463, 2021.

Greiner N, Barra B, Schiavone G, Lorach H, James N, Conti S, Kaeser M, Fallegger F, Borgognon S, Lacour S, Bloch J, Courtine G, Capogrosso M. Recruitment of upper-limb motoneurons with epidural electrical stimulation of the cervical spinal cordNat Commun 12(1):435, 2021.

Mirzakhalili E, Barra B, Capogrosso M, Lempka SF. Biophysics of Temporal Interference StimulationCell Syst 11(6):557-572.e5, 2020.

Schiavone G, Fallegger F, Kang X, Barra B, Vachicouras N, Roussinova E, Furfaro I, Jiguet S, Seáñez I, Borgognon S, Rowald A, Li Q, Qin C, Bézard E, Bloch J, Courtine G, Capogrosso M, Lacour SP. Soft, Implantable Bioelectronic Interfaces for Translational ResearchAdv Mater 32(17):e1906512, 2020.

Formento E, Minassian K, Wagner F, Mignardot JB, Le Goff-Mignardot CG, Rowald A, Bloch J, Micera S, Capogrosso M, Courtine G. Electrical spinal cord stimulation must preserve proprioception to enable locomotion in humans with spinal cord injury. Nat Neurosci 21(12):1728-1741, 2018.

Wagner FB, Mignardot JB, Le Goff-Mignardot CG, Demesmaeker R, Komi S, Capogrosso M, Rowald A, Seáñez I, Caban M, Pirondini E, Vat M, McCracken LA, Heimgartner R, Fodor I, Watrin A, Seguin P, Paoles E, Van Den Keybus K, Eberle G, Schurch B, Pralong E, Becce F, Prior J, Buse N, Buschman R, Neufeld E, Kuster N, Carda S, von Zitzewitz J, Delattre V, Denison T, Lambert H, Minassian K, Bloch J, Courtine G. Targeted neurotechnology restores walking in humans with spinal cord injuryNature 563(7729):65-71, 2018.

Capogrosso M, Wagner FB, Gandar J, Moraud EM, Wenger N, Milekovic T, Shkorbatova P, Pavlova N, Musienko P, Bezard E, Bloch J, Courtine G. Configuration of electrical spinal cord stimulation through real-time processing of gait kinematics. Nat Protoc 13(9):2031-2061, 2018.

Capogrosso M, Milekovic T, Borton D, Wagner F, Moraud EM, Mignardot JB, Buse N, Gandar J, Barraud Q, Xing D, Rey E, Duis S, Jianzhong Y, Ko WK, Li Q, Detemple P, Denison T, Micera S, Bezard E, Bloch J, Courtine G. A brain-spine interface alleviating gait deficits after spinal cord injury in primates. Nature 539(7628):284-288, 2016.

Moraud EM, Capogrosso M, Formento E, Wenger N, DiGiovanna J, Courtine G, Micera S. Mechanisms Underlying the Neuromodulation of Spinal Circuits for Correcting Gait and Balance Deficits after Spinal Cord InjuryNeuron 89(4):814-28, 2016.

Research Activities

In 2022-23, Dr. Capogrosso reported the initial results of his lab’s first-in-human clinical trial testing the efficacy of spinal cord stimulation (SCS) to restore arm and hand function in people with chronic stroke that was approved by the University of Pittsburgh IRB (NCT04512690). This trial is performed in collaboration with Peter Gerzten, MD, and Robert Friedlander, MD, from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery; Elvira Pirondini, PhD, and Lee Fisher, PhD, from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; George Wittenberg, MD, from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurology; Douglas Weber, PhD, from Carnegie Mellon University; and John Krakauer, MD, from Johns Hopkins Medicine. The hypothesis is that SCS can support residual motor function in people with upper limb paralysis in consequence of stroke and significantly improve motor control. The team implanted four subjects and reported the results on the first two subjects. 

Dr. Capogrosso observed unexpectedly large effect sizes that substantially improved strength, motor control and daily-life abilities of people with stroke. The results of this work were published in 2023 in Nature Medicine. Dr. Capogrosso believe that his lab’s data shows that his technology has the potential of becoming the first effective therapy for permanent post-stroke upper limb hemiparesis. This work has received worldwide media coverage including the BBC, CNN, Wall Street Journal and the New York Times

In relation to this work, Dr. Capogrosso also published in Nature Neuroscience the foundational work for this trial executed in monkeys with a lesion of the cortico-spinal tract. This shows the unique value of pre-clinical research in monkeys which is the most relevant animal model for human motor control. Indeed, Dr, Capogrosso developed and tested this technology in monkeys which allowed his lab to rapidly translate the work to a human trial. 

Finally, this year Dr. Capogrosso launched a new clinical trial supported by Roche Genetech Neuroscience Innovation to explore the feasibility of using SCS to treat motor deficits and slow disease progress in people with spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disease that progressively destroys spinal motoneurons leading to paralysis. 

Media Appearances

Collaborative Research Shapes the Future of Assistive Tech
U.S. News & World Report
April 2, 2024

Spinal Cord Stimulation for Stroke Victims
American Medicine Today
March 2, 2024

Pittsburgh-based stroke study brings improvements for Hempfield man and hope for a better future
November 20, 2023

A moving story: Spinal cord stimulators restore hand and arm function after paralysis
PittMed Magazine
August 2, 2023

Brain and spine implants enabled a paralyzed man to climb stairs and walk on rough terrain, study shows
May 24, 2023

From 'science fiction' to reality: Paralyzed man walks again thanks to brain and spine implants
USA Today
May 24, 2023

First-of-its-kind Pittsburgh study uses electrodes to restore stroke patients' mobility
May 10, 2023

‘We Were All in Tears': Stroke Patient Sees Improved Motion With Experimental Device
NBC-TV 4 Washington
April 18, 2023

Hope for stroke patients: Spinal stimulation device increases mobility in Pitt-CMU trial
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
March 5, 2023

Spinal implants: The experimental device electrically stimulates spinal cord
BBC World News
February 20, 2023

In Test, Zaps to Spine Help 2 Stroke Survivors Move Arms
U.S. News & World Report
February 20, 2023

Zaps to the Spinal Cord Improved Patients’ Paralysis After Stroke
Wall Street Journal
February 20, 2023

'New frontier' in therapy helps 2 stroke patients move again – and gives hope for many more
USA Today
February 20, 2023

Helping Stroke Patients Regain Movement in their Hands
New York Times
February 20, 2023

With a little ‘tickle,’ a new technology gives hope to stroke patients with paralysis
February 20, 2023

A Stroke Paralyzed Her Arm. This Implant Let Her Use It Again
Wired Magazine
February 20, 2023

Stroke survivor moves hand for first time in nine years after spinal stimulation
Daily Mail
February 20, 2023

Spinal stimulation can improve arm and hand movement years after a stroke
February 20, 2023

Spinal stimulation could aid mobility after stroke
AP News
February 20, 2023

Incredible video shows the moment paralysed stroke victim is overjoyed at moving her hand for the first time in 9 years
The Sun
February 20, 2023

Ictus, dopo la stimolazione elettrica due donne ricominciano a utilizzare il braccio e in parte la mano
Corriere Della Sera
February 20, 2023

External Electrical Stimulation Restores Upper Limb Control of Paralyzed Monkeys
The Science Times
July 1, 2022

Clinical Trial on Spinal Cord Stimulation
KDKA 1020 Radio
June 30, 2022

Arm and hand movements are RESTORED in paralyzed monkeys
London Daily Mail
June 20, 2022

Spinal cord stimulation enables paralysed monkeys to move their arms
New Scientist
June 30, 2022

Before non-invasive brain stimulation becomes widespread, rigorous experiments are needed, researchers say
UPMC Inside Life Changing Medicine
November 10, 2020