Stavros Zanos, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor, Translational Neurophysiology Lab, Center for Bioelectronic Medicine,
The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research

Affiliate Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology & Biophysics,
University of Washington School of Medicine

Phone: (206) 553-9047

About the Investigator

Dr. Zanos obtained his MD diploma from Aristotle University, in Thessaloniki, Greece. He served as a general medical practitioner and a military physician, before training in internal medicine at the Papageorgiou General Hospital, in Thessaloniki, Greece and in cardiology at the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center, in Athens, Greece. He earned his PhD in Neuroscience and Physiology from the University of Washington School of Medicine in 2013, where he also served as senior fellow and instructor. He joined the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research as assistant professor in 2017.

Dr. Zanos is the author of 15 peer-reviewed publications. His studies focus on brain and peripheral neurophysiology, brain plasticity, closed-loop neurostimulation and translational aspects of bioelectronic medicine. He is principal investigator in a DARPA project on the use of vagus nerve stimulation to promote targeted brain plasticity and augment cognitive performance.

Research Focus

Closed-loop neurostimulation

One of Dr. Zanos’ research interests is the science and technology for chronic, closed-loop electrical stimulation in freely behaving animals and in humans. Some of these studies use the Neurochip platform, that he helped develop and tested at Dr. Eb Fetz’s group at the University of Washington, as a starting point. In parallel, more advanced platforms, developed in-house at the Center for Bioelectronic Medicine (CBEM), are tested. These portable or implantable systems, in real-time, monitor and analyze neural and physiological signals and deliver closed-loop electrical stimulation to neural tissue (brain, spinal cord or peripheral nerves). Closed-loop stimulation observes the state of the organism and the organ(s) whose function it seeks to modulate and dynamically adjusts to changing physiological and disease-related conditions to maximize efficacy while minimizing unwanted side effects.

Large animal models for bioelectronic medicine therapies

A second focus of research at Dr. Zanos’s lab is to develop translational large animal models for studying the physiology of a variety of neural pathways, in the central and the peripheral nervous system, and for testing neuromodulation therapies in health and in a variety of diseases. Disease models of the nervous system, the heart, the respiratory system, the gastrointestinal system, the immune system and others will be developed and studied. Large animal models allow the design of BEM therapies based on experimental observations that are physiologically and anatomically most relevant to human disease; they also generate a wealth of efficacy and safety data that will be used to support premarket submissions for BEM therapies deploying class III devices.

Vagus nerve stimulation and the brain

A third focus of research at Dr. Zanos’ lab is the use of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) as a method for modulating brain function, especially in relation to brain plasticity and disorders like stroke, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. In a project funded by DARPA, vagus nerve stimulation, a manipulation that results in the release of neuromodulators in the cortex and promotes brain reorganization, is studied in monkeys at the University of Washington. The effects of VNS on brain plasticity, cortical excitability and brain connectivity are documented, using neurophysiological and mathematical methods.

In parallel to the VNS studies, further studies on the physiological mechanisms of targeted brain plasticity are pursued. We will build upon a recent set of studies in nonhuman primates and human subjects implanted with ECoG arrays, in which appropriate closed-loop electrical cortical stimulation (ECS) results in short-term plasticity in the connectivity between brain areas. This work is being extended in several directions, in large animals and in human subjects, and results from these studies will be translated to clinical studies in human subjects, in collaboration with clinical neuroscientists at Northwell (neurologists, neurosurgeons and psychiatrists). The clinical applications of these studies involve epilepsy, stroke rehabilitation, Parkinson’s disease, pain, traumatic brain injury and neuropsychiatric disorders.

  1. Zanos S, Zanos TP, Marmarelis VZ, Ojemann GA, Fetz EE.: “Relationships between spike-free local field potentials and spike timing in human temporal cortex.” J Neurophysiol. 2012 Apr;107(7):1808-21
  2. Mitsopoulos E, Ginikopoulou E, Economidou D, Zanos S, Pateinakis P, Minasidis E, Memmos D, Thodis E, Vargemezis V, Tsakiris D.: “Impact of long-term cinacalcet, ibandronate or teriparatide therapy on bone mineral density of hemodialysis patients: a pilot study.” Am J Nephrol. 2012;36(3):238-44
  3. Zanos S, Richardson AG, Shupe L, Miles FP, Fetz EE.: “The Neurochip-2: an autonomous head-fixed computer for recording and stimulating in freely behaving monkeys.” IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng. 2011 Aug;19(4):427-35
  4. Zanos S: “Neural correlates of high-frequency intracortical and epicortical field potentials.” J Neurosci. 2009 Mar 25;29(12):3673-5
  5. Miller KJ, Zanos S, Fetz EE, den Nijs M, Ojemann JG.: “Decoupling the cortical power spectrum reveals real-time representation of individual finger movements in humans.” J Neurosci. 2009 Mar 11;29(10):3132-7

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