Our History: How WITNe became WITNe

What began as a small lab—the Neural Interface Technology Research and Optimization (NITRO) Laboratory—in the Biomedical Engineering department at The University of Wisconsin-Madison, has evolved into today’s Wisconsin Institute for Translational Neuroengineering (WITNe).

Our story begins with the biomedical engineering department, which got started as a virtual department, enrolling its first undergraduate students in 2001. The deparment’s first brick and mortar building was completed in 2002, and the NITRO lab was established soon thereafter. Initial projects began with flexible, high-density thin film electronics, in vitro microfluidic systems, non-invasive EEG-based neural interfaces, and new educational initiatives.

In 2010, the NITRO lab transitioned into optics and nanoscale, and moved into the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research (WIMR) building in 2014. This move to WIMR allowed for more effective and productive cross-lab communication. Relocating to the medical centers of campus has allowed for unprecedented collaboration between engineering researchers and medical researchers and practitioners.

Since 2015, the idea of a collaborative space where biomedical engineers could share research and resources had been percolating. And since then we’ve developed and grown the idea in the Wisconsin Institute for Translational Neuroengineering (WITNe).