Kenneth W. Horch, a University of Utah associate professor of bioengineering and physiology, has been elected to the international Sunderland Society, a select group of recognized leaders in the fields of nerve repair and plastic surgery.
Horch is co-director of the U.'s visual prosthesis (artificial vision) program. He has worked extensively in the areas of neuroprosthesis, somatic sensation, electrode design and human psychophysics. He joined the U. faculty in 1972.The international society was named for Sir Sydney Sunderland of Australia, a pioneer in the study and repair of peripheral nerves. The society has fewer than 40 members worldwide. Horch is one of only three non-physicians elected to membership.
Horch graduated from Lehigh University with a degree in engineering and earned his Ph.D. in biology at Yale University.
In addition to his work in the U.'s artificial vision project, Horch and his research associates are developing electrodes to record sensory activity and stimulate nerve fibers in peripheral nerves. The long-term goal is the development of electrodes capable of stimulating peripheral nerves to provide a degree of mobility to paraplegics and quadriplegics.
Horch holds a patent on a material intended for use in repairing sectioned peripheral nerves, and he works for a small company that sells a device he invented to test sensory function in the skin of patients. That device is undergoing clinical testing at a number of institutions.
Horch is also conducting studies in neuroprosthesis, especially in the design of interfaces to the nervous system, and in nerve repair and regeneration, which led to his election to the Sunderland Society.
His other research efforts include mammalian somatosensory physiology, which deals with the sense of touch. He has written more than 60 refereed publications and book chapters, and numerous additional scientific abstracts.