Duluth, GA — Philip R. Kennedy, MD, Ph.D., is being recognized by Continental Who’s Who as a Top Neurologist for his outstanding work in the field and years of expertise at Neural Signals Inc. and at Robert A. Gadlage MD FACS & Associates PC.
Dr. Kennedy has been passionate about neurology since a young age. Working as a Neurologist and Neuroscientist, Dr. Kennedy is the CEO and Chief Scientist of Neural Signals Inc. Dr. Kennedy founded Neural Signals Inc. in 1989, with the stated goal of developing a brain-computer interface to allow paralyzed patients the ability to communicate with the external world, and control external devices. Using his own funds to start the company, Dr. Kennedy researched a novel implantable device for detecting and transmitting signals through the brain’s cerebral cortex, and calls his invention the neurotrophic electrode. He is very proud of this critical work, saying, “For many decades, the idea that we could control computers with little more than our thoughts has been the stuff of science fiction and the dream of many scientists. Neural Signals is fortunate to be the historic first to allow a locked-in man — who is alert and intelligent but unable to move or speak — the ability to control a computer directly with neural signals.”
A pioneer in the field, Dr. Kennedy implanted wire electrodes in the brain of a paralyzed man in the 1990’s. The man, who Dr. Kennedy referred to as the “first cyborg,” successfully communicated through a brain-computer interface for the first time. Dr. Kennedy has dedicated his life to the creation of innovative ways to digitalize a person’s thoughts.
In 1999, The Washington Post referred to Dr. Kennedy as possibly being “a new Alexander Graham Bell” for his incredible breakthroughs allowing paralyzed individuals to regain the ability to communicate. He has been published in major scientific journals, and the NIH has funded his research.
In 2014, Dr. Kennedy undertook a shocking medical procedure: implanting neurotrophic electrodes in his own fully functioning brain to attempt to verify that it worked. After the 11 hour surgery, he initially had trouble communicating, but he wore and tested the capabilities of the device for 88 days. Thanks to his decades of research and deeply personal involvement, Dr. Kennedy has developed a successful speech prosthesis, which remains the main aim of his current research.
Dr. Kennedy is the author of Unlocking Erik: A Freedom Journey to Restore the Speech of Those with Locked-In Syndrome. The book tells the true story of Dr. Kennedy’s fight to restore speech to Erik, a 16-year-old with Locked-In Syndrome who was mute and paralyzed, only able to communicate “yes” and “no” with eye blinks. Erik inspired Dr. Kennedy to attempt his famous neurotrophic electrode surgery. He also wrote the science fiction novel 2051. He believes that brain-computer technology can be provided to consumers and patients in an ethical manner.
Apart from his research work, Dr. Kennedy joined Robert A. Gadlage MD FACS & Associates PC, where he currently sees patients. His specialty is patients with various neurological disorders, such as seizures, sleep disorders, headaches, neuropathies, radiculopathies, strokes, myasthenia gravis, myopathies, multiple sclerosis, ALS, post-concussion syndromes, Bells palsies, carpal tunnel syndromes, and Piriformis syndromes.
Receiving an excellent education while growing up in Cashel and Limerick, Ireland, Dr. Kennedy graduated from the University College Dublin School of Medicine in 1972. He then received his Doctor of Philosophy degree from the Northwestern University of Chicago in 1983. Dr. Kennedy spent several years at the Department of Physiology at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. From 1980-1983 Dr. Kennedy completed his Ph.D. at Northwestern University of Chicago. Next, he became a postdoctoral Fellow with Professor D. Humphrey at the Department of Physiology at Emory University in Atlanta. He then moved into a job as a Research Scientist at the Biomedical Center at Georgia Institute of Technology in 1986, and worked as an Associate at Yerkes Primate Center at Emory University. Returning to clinical work at Emory University in 1993, Dr. Kennedy completed a residency in Neurology. He is board eligible in Neurology by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) and has been practicing medicine for 49 years.
To remain abreast of updates in the field, Dr. Kennedy is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the International Brain Research Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Neurology, and the American Medical Association.
Awards for his work include: Discover Magazine 1st Place in Assistive Technology (1999), Atlanta Magazine Health Care Heroes Award (1999), World Technology Network Award London (2000), Alfred Mann Foundation Scientist of the Year (2004), Gold Electrode Award Neurotech (2014), and On-Time Doctor Award (2015).
Hobbies that he enjoys include photography, playing pool, working out, and playing table tennis.
Dr. Kennedy would like to dedicate this honorable recognition In Loving Memory of his father, Dermot Kennedy, MD; and In Honor of a fellow Neurosurgeon and mentor located in Ireland, Fergus Donovan MD.