Amir Manbachi, Ph.D., M.Sc.

Headshot of Amir Manbachi
  • Associate Professor of Neurosurgery

Research Interests

Ultrasound Transducer Design and Development


Dr. Manbachi is an Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical, and Computer Engineering, Anesthesiology, and Critical Care Medicine at Johns Hopkins University. He is the engineering co-PI on a $13.48M award from the Department of Defense and is responsible for the assembly of a world-class team of pioneers, including 70 individuals from the clinic, academia, and industry. He is the co-Director of the HEPIUS Innovation Labs at Johns Hopkins Medicine, focusing on the next generation of wearables and implantable medical ultrasound devices for spinal cord injury patients.

His research interests include applications of sound and ultrasound to various neurosurgical procedures. These applications include imaging the spine and brain, detection of foreign body objects, remote ablation of brain tumors, monitoring of blood flow and tissue perfusion, as well as other upcoming interesting applications such as neuromodulation and drug delivery. His pedagogical activities have included teaching engineering design, innovation, translation, and entrepreneurship as well as close collaboration with clinical experts in Surgery and Radiology at Johns Hopkins. 

His doctoral work embodied the development of ultrasound-guided spine surgery. He obtained his Ph.D., from the University of Toronto, under the supervision of Dr. Richard S.C. Cobbold. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (2015-16) and the founder and CEO of Spinesonics Medical (2012–2015), a spinoff from his doctoral studies.

Amir is an author on >30 journal articles, > 30 conference proceedings, > 10 inventions, a book entitled “Towards Ultrasound-guided Spinal Fusion Surgery” and an audiobook entitled "Handbook for Clinical Ultrasound.” He has mentored 170+ students, has so far been raised $15M of funding and his interdisciplinary research has been recognized by a number of awards, including the University of Toronto’s 2015 Inventor of the Year award, Ontario Brain Institute 2013 fellowship, Maryland Innovation Initiative, and Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research's Career Development Award.

Dr. Manbachi has extensive teaching experience, particularly in the field of engineering design, medical imaging, and entrepreneurship (both at Hopkins and Toronto), for which he received the University of Toronto’s Teaching Excellence award in 2014, as well as Johns Hopkins University career center's award nomination for students' "Career Champion" (2018) and finally Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering's Robert B. Pond Sr. Excellence in Teaching Excellence Award (2018). more


  • Associate Professor of Neurosurgery
  • Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Joint Appointment in Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine

Departments / Divisions



  • B.Sc.; University of Toronto (Canada) (2008)
  • M.Sc.; University of Toronto (Canada) (2010)
  • Ph.D.; University of Toronto (Canada) (2015)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Personal Statement

My long-term goal is to initiate and lead meaningful research projects that can routinely generate clinical translation and commercial enterprises, hence benefiting medicine and society, and I currently do this through nurturing and mentoring the next generation of Biomedical Engineers (164 trainees to date) at Johns Hopkins while collaborating with Hopkins neurosurgeons on their ideas. What keeps me awake in the middle of the night is the anticipation of the next great scientific idea, and the next collaboration with clinicians, leading to a new generation of inventions, prototype developments, industrial partnerships, FDA approvals and market sales, thereby saving patients’ lives on a global caliber, in addition to creating jobs, thereby helping the local community. Biomedical engineers are poised to make unparalleled impact and save lives by inventing devices that can help millions of patients worldwide, and I am committed to fulfilling that role! My interests and expertise are in the following areas: physics of acoustics, as well as design and fabrication of novel image-guided interventions (primarily ultrasound imaging, and most recently therapeutic ultrasound), with a passion for clinical translation and quality assurance for patient safety. My clinical research interests and involvement since my Ph.D. have been primarily on minimally invasive approaches in the areas of neurosurgery, specifically in brain and spine. Having founded a company based on my Ph.D. studies (Spinesonics Medical Inc.), currently leading another entrepreneurial initiative to develop a focused ultrasound device (for which we have already raised over $250K), and closely mentoring close to 40 design projects in affiliation with the Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design (CBID) and the JHU BME undergraduate design program, our department's remarkable record for clinically driven research and innovation deeply resonate with me. In particular, this department offers exceptional access to medical and engineering resources, and I have fully leveraged that in my collaborations with the Departments of Surgery and Radiology, and the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety.

Mission Statement

(1) To bring novel medical devices into the neurosurgical world by exploring innovative designs; (2) scholarship through communicating the findings to the world; and (3) training the next generation of biomedical engineers, passionate about changing the paradigm of brain and spinal cord injury treatments.


Lab Website: HEPIUS Lab

Technology Expertise Keywords

Medical Device Design; Ultrasound; Neurosurgery; Spine

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Bechtold R, Tselepidakis N, Garlow B,  Glaister S, Zhu W, Liu R, Szwec A, Tandon A, Buono Z, Pitingolo J, Madalo C, Ferrara I, Shale C, Benassi T, Belzberg M, Gorelick N, Hwang B, Coles G, Tyler B, Suk I, Huang J, Brem H, and Manbachi A “Minimizing cotton retention in neurosurgical procedures: which imaging modality can help?”, Proc. SPIE, Medical Imaging 2020: Biomedical Applications in Molecular, Structural, and Functional Imaging, 1131704;

Aghabaglou F, Ainechi A, Abramson H, Curry EJ, Kaovasia TP, Kamal S, Acord M, Mahapatra S, Pustavoitau A, Smith B, Azadi J, Son JK, Suk I, Theodore N, Tyler BM, Manbachi A. Ultrasound monitoring of microcirculation: an original study from the laboratory bench to the clinic. Microcirculation (New York, NY: 1994) 2022 May 24:e12770.  

Abramson HG, Curry EJ, Mess G, Thombre R, Kempski-Leadingham KM, Mistry S, Somanathan S, Roy L, Abu-Bonsrah N, Coles G, Doloff JC, Brem H, Theodore N, Huang J and Manbachi A (2022) Automatic detection of foreign body objects in neurosurgery using a deep learning approach on intraoperative ultrasound images: From animal models to first in-human testing. Front. Surg. 9:1040066. doi: 10.3389/fsurg.2022.1040066 

Tsehay Y, Zeng Y, Weber-Levine C, Awosika T, Kerensky M, Hersh AM, Ou Z, Jiang K, Bhimreddy M, Bauer SJ, Theodore JN, Quiroz VM, Suk I, Alomari S, Sun J, Tong S, Thakor NJ, Doloff JC, Theodore N, Manbachi A. (2023) Low-Intensity Pulsed Ultrasound Neuromodulation of a Rodent's Spinal Cord Suppresses Motor Evoked Potentials, IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, doi: 10.1109/TBME.2022.3233345

Thombre R, Mess G, Kempski Leadingham KM, Kapoor S, Hersh A, Acord M, Kaovasia T, Theodore N, Tyler B and Manbachi A (2023) Towards standardization of the parameters for opening the blood–brain barrier with focused ultrasound to treat glioblastoma multiforme: A systematic review of the devices, animal models, and therapeutic compounds used in rodent tumor models. Front. Oncol. 12:1072780. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2022.1072780


Flexible control and guidance of minimally invasive focused ultrasound
Patent # WO2018160657A1 | 02/28/2017

An embodiment in accordance with the present invention provides a transducer design for minimally invasive focused ultrasound (MIFU). The present invention allows flexible control of a focused ultrasound wave using mechanical and electrical control. The transducer array is implemented on a flexible substrate that can be mechanically controlled through two or more physical configurations. As with conventional electronic "steering," the transducer elements can be controlled electronically to provide adjustable focus of the ultrasound. The combination of mechanical and electronic control provides the device a very flexible method for delivering focused ultrasound. The invention also includes a design that allows integration of ultrasound and endoscopic image guidance. The ultrasound guidance includes anatomical visualization and functional imaging (e.g. blood flow and coagulation of vasculature). The ultrasound imaging transducer is used for thermometry within the region of interest for treatment. Endoscopic imaging allows for improved understanding of tip location in real-time.

Ultrasonic signal processing for bone sonography
Patent # WO2014186903A1 | 05/24/2013

This invention relates to methods and devices for use in ultrasound imaging. Ultrasonic methods, systems and low-frequency annular transducer array devices for bone image guidance, particularly during spinal fusion surgery and the process of pedicle screw insertion are provided.

Ultrasonic array for bone sonography
Patent # WO2014186903A1 | 04/25/2013

This invention relates to methods and devices for use in ultrasound imaging. Ultrasonic methods, systems and low-frequency annular transducer array devices for bone image guidance, particularly during spinal fusion surgery and the process of pedicle screw insertion are provided.

Monitoring and treatment of injuries using wearable devices
Patent # US patent WO2022076510A1 | 04/14/2022

Cranial implant devices, systems, and related methods
Patent # US patent WO2021050843A1 | 03/18/2021

Academic Affiliations & Courses

Graduate Program Affiliation

Affiliate Faculty, Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design

Affiliate Faculty, Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality

Courses and Syllabi

  • Advanced Design Team: Instrumentation (EN.580.498)
    Whiting School of Engineering
  • Senior Design Project (EN.580.580 / 581)
    Whiting School of Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Research (EN.580.511)
    Whiting School of Engineering
  • BME Design Group (EN.580.411)
    Whiting School of Engineering

Activities & Honors


  • Robert B. Pond Sr. Excellence in Teaching Excellence Award, Johns Hopkins University, Whiting School of Engineering, 2018 - 2018
  • University of Toronto's Inventor of the year award, University of Toronto, 2015 - 2015
  • Ontario Brain Institute 2013 Entrepreneurial fellowship, Ontario Brain Institute, 2013 - 2014
  • Baltimore Business Journal’s 40 under 40 award, Nov 2022, Baltiomore Business Journal, 2022
  • Baltimore Business Journal's Inno Fire Award, Baltimore Business Journal, 2023
  • FDA approves our invention as a medical device breakthrough designation, Food and Drug Administration, 2023


  • Biomedical Engineering Society
  • BME-IDEA: Biomedical Engineering Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship Alliance

    The Biomedical Engineering Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship Alliance (BME-IDEA) is a ​consortium of leading faculty​ at over 150 ​institutions who are committed to sharing best practices in teaching innovation, design, technology transfer, and entrepreneurship.

  • Design of Medical Devices
  • SPIE Medical Imaging
  • The International Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound (ISTU), 2022
  • The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), 2022

Videos & Media

Recent News Articles and Media Coverage

Johns Hopkins lab aiming to improve spinal cord injury care hits FDA milestone, The Business Journals (Feb 6, 2023)

Back(s) to Life, JHU Engineering (Summer 2021)

Backs to the Future, Hopkins Medicine Magazine (Winter 2021)

Developing Implantable and Wearable Technology to Treat Spinal Cord Injury, NeuroLogic (Winter 2021)

KL2 Scholar Co-leads Team in Developing Implantable and Wearable Technology for Spinal Cord Injuries, Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical & Translational Research (2/5/21)

$13.48M Awarded to Johns Hopkins Scientists to Develop Implantable Ultrasound Devices for Patients with Spinal Cord Injury (10/12/20)

Cross-disciplinary Team Will Design, Develop Devices to Better Treat Spinal Cord Injuries, Hub (11/11/2020)

Hopkins-born venture aims to use ultrasound technology to treat brain tumors, Baltimore Business Journal (Jan 2018)

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