EU funding for the development of technology towards a personalized treatment for depression

(25-04-2022) Together with other institutions, Ghent University forms an international consortium to achieve a technological breakthrough towards a personalized treatment for depression

The project proposal UPSIDE - "Focused Ultrasound Personalized Therapy for the Treatment of Depression”, was successful in the EU call EIC Pathfinder challenge 'Tools to measure and stimulate activity in brain tissue'. Major depressive disorder (MDD) is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting 300 million people with a lifetime prevalence of 15%. Approximately one third of all MDD patients fail to respond to currently established treatments based on medication and psychotherapy and is thus treatment-resistant. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (tRMS), Vagus nerve stimulation, deep brain stimulation (DBS) and transcranial focused ultrasound (tFUS) still show poor spatial resolution (ECT, tRMS, tFUS) or low network coverage (VNS, DBS), with average remission rates in clinical trials still lower than 30%. Apart from the existing stimulation hurdles, reliable biomarkers for depression are needed as a diagnostic tool, and, in the case of neuromodulation-based therapies, to determine the stimulation efficacy and allow for personalized treatment. The UPSIDE aims to develop a hybrid epidural brain interface (EBI) for high-precision ultrasound neuromodulation (eFUS) and high-fidelity neural recording (eREC) for the personalized treatment of depression.

The interdisciplinary team

With a total budget of 4.2 million €, an international consortium has been formed to combine expertise in bioelectronics, brain-machine interfaces, focused ultrasound, neurobiology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry. This multi-disciplinary and international consortium includes PIs and partners from various countries:

  • Prof. George D. Spyropoulos and the EU-team of Ghent University; Belgium
  • Dr. Tiago Costa; coordinator, Dr. Muratore, and Prof. Dr. Ir. Wouter Serdijn; TU Delft; The Netherlands
  • Dr. Mate Dobrossy and Prof. Dr. med. Volker A. Coenen; UKLFR; Germany
  • Newronika Srl; Italy
  • Silicongate LDA; Portugal
  • Focused Ultrasound Foundation, USA
  • MST, Germany

More about EIC Pathfinder

With its Pathfinder programme the EIC supports the exploration of bold ideas for radically new technologies. It welcomes the high-risk / high gain and interdisciplinary cutting-edge science collaborations that underpin technological breakthroughs.

Pathfinder goes beyond what is already known. Visionary thinking can open up promising avenues towards powerful new technologies.

The EIC funds consortia of researchers and other partners from at least three different countries, but there are also opportunities for individual teams and small consortia (two partners), with grants of up to 3 to 4 million euro for early stage development of future technologies.

Researchers of Ghent University who wish to apply for EIC Pathfinder can contact the EU Team for advice and support.


  •; 0470810606
  • EU-team Ghent University,