Sunday November 27, 2022

Elon Musk’s Neuralink is hiring a clinical trial director

Elon Musk’s brain interface company Neuralink has posted a job posting for a clinical trials director. This position could help the company make progress towards its stated goal to test its brain implant in real people. The company’s implant looks like a coin and has electrodes strung on thin, flexible wires. Its main innovation is the wires. This is in contrast to older brain-machine interfaces that use stiffer needles and can cause damage to brain cells.
Before it can be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it must conduct trials in humans. This is critical for Musk’s stated plans to use the devices for a variety of neurological problems, including memory loss and addiction.
Bloomberg first reported that the job posting for the clinical trial director position states that the person will be “working alongside Neuralink’s first Clinical Trial Participants.” However, it is not clear if the company has begun recruiting participants or working with them. Musk stated in December that the company plans to implant the device in the first human subjects by 2022. Musk has previously stated that he expected to begin trials in 2020.
A feasibility study would be the first step in a clinical trial. This study would allow for a first look at the device’s effectiveness in a small group of people. To launch a larger-scale clinical trial, the company will need FDA approval because the device is highly risky and has never been used in humans. The job posting states that the FDA’s clinical trial director would be responsible to interact with regulators.
The person who accepts the position of clinical trials director will be entering a scientific environment described by former employees as chaotic and characterized in 2020 by pressure to deliver scientific progress within short time frames. They would have to deal with Musk’s repeated promises of short timelines and his public ambitions for brain-machine interfaces. None of this is included in the job description.

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