Edoardo D'Anna, PhD

Neural engineer and scientist

Welcome to my corner of the internet. I am passionate about neurotechnologies and artificial intelligence. I believe that expanding our understanding of these two fields holds the key to successfully tackling the challenges of tomorrow.

Edoardo D'Anna


Bioengineer (MSc) and Neural engineer (PhD)



I am currently a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh.

I received a PhD from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in the field of neural engineering for my work on neural interfaces and sensory feedback. I also hold a MSc in bioengineering and a BSc in Life Sciences and Technology from EPFL.

My areas of expertise are neural engineering, brain computer interfaces, machine learning, data analysis and clinical studies.

I am currently interested in the role sensory feedback has to play in developing more effective and intuitive neural interfaces. In particular, I seek to develop biomimetic stimulation strategies based on a deeper understanding of tactile and proprioceptive coding in the brain.

Past projects

Restoring sensory feedback to amputees

Between 2014 and 2018, as I was pursuing my PhD in neural engineering, I studied novel techniques for improving the quality and type of sensory feedback we can deliver to upper-limb amputees. My research was carried out across several clinical sites in Europe and was supported by various European projects, including EPIONE and NEBIAS.


My research focused on three major topics related to sensory feedback:

  • Using non-invasive electrical stimulation to induce sensations of touch referred to the phantom hand. In a 2017 Scientific Reports article, I showed how this approach could reproduce many of the exciting functional benefits demonstrated with more invasive strategies, but without implants.
  • Providing multimodal sensory feedback, where the aim is to restore more than just one type of sensation. In my research, I focused on restoring proprioceptive information (about the position of the fingers) alongside tactile information. I demonstrated that both streams of information were used simultaneously to infer object properties during grasping, such as the size and stiffness of a cylinder. My results were published in Science Robotics, and an open-access (preprint) version is available here.
  • Improving the quality of the restored tactile sensations. In a Neuron paper, my colleagues and I demonstrated that by using biomimicry to deliver higher-fidelity tactile impulses into the nerves, we could induce artificial touch sensations which felt more natural than with classical approaches. The cover I designed was used for the Neuron issue in which our work appeared (pictured on the left).

If you want to know more about this research, my PhD thesis contains in-depth information about my work. Additionally, if you reach out, I would be happy to discuss it.


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Blink electronics

In 2013, together with four co-founders, I created Blink, a startup bringing biometric sensing to AR and VR.


We developed a head-mounted display add-on capable of detecting facial expressions from muscle activity (measured via electrical and mechanical effects) using machine learning. We won a startup prize and associated funding which allowed us to develop custom circuits and sensors optimally suited for this application and file a patent application.


Although the project was eventually discontinued, the domain knowledge, technical expertise and experience I developed during these years was ultimately what allowed me to join Magic Leap, one of the world's best-funded startups, to work on user sensing and related applications.


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Alpine Studios

Alpine Studios is a web development studio I created with Miro Caban in 2015.


Here is a selection of some of the most recent websites we created:


Please note that we are no longer accepting new clients.


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Writing

I enjoy writing both fiction and non-fiction, and occasionally publish some of my thoughts, as well as some of my creative writing, on my blog.

Media and outreach

I have enjoyed sharing my work with people of all backgrounds and ages. I have had the privilege to be invited to numerous outreach events, as well as talk shows and interviews, of which a selection are highlighted here. If you would like me to speak at your event, do not hesitate to contact me at blog@edoardodanna.ch


In the media:

Techcrunch Repubblica IEEE Spectrum RTS1 radio interview Sapere Scienza

Interviews, outreach and more: