Xing’s driving ambition is the creation of a brain implant that allows profoundly blind people to regain a functional form of artificial vision. She specializes in brain-computer interfaces; visual neuroscience; blindness; and chronic recording from and microstimulation of the brain.
Originally from Singapore, she won a Trustee (full-tuition) scholarship to study at the University of Southern California in 2004, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Neuroscience in 2008. Subsequently, she obtained her PhD in Visual Neuroscience at Newcastle University (UK), in the lab of Alexander Thiele, examining how extensive training and improvement on fine visual tasks is accompanied by changes in the primate visual system at the neuronal level.
She moved to the Netherlands in 2014, working as a postdoctoral researcher with Pieter Roelfsema at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience. In 2016, she played a pivotal role in securing funding from the National Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) for a 4-year €1.78M program on the development of a visual cortical neuroprosthesis, involving five research labs, ten companies, and three organizations for the blind and visually impaired. Together with Blackrock Microsystems, she developed an unprecedentedly high-channel-count, high-resolution neuroprosthesis for chronic recording and electrical stimulation of primate visual cortex, establishing proof-of-concept for the feasibility of artificial vision in the blind (published in the journal Science), while serving as the programme manager.
In 2020, she was promoted to Senior Researcher and is co-PI on two prestigious consortium grants from the National Organization for Scientific Research (€14.3M 7-year grant, ‘INTENSE’) and the European Union Horizon 2020 FET-Open (€4M 4-year grant, ‘NeuraViPeR’) for the development of implantable neurotechnology for clinical applications, including restoration of vision in the blind.
Her work has been featured in both international and national newspapers and scientific magazines, including CNN, Science Magazine, Scientific American, New Scientist, De Trouw, De Volkskrant, Algemeen Dagblad, NEMO Kennislink, NOS, NPO Radio 1, BNR News Radio, Haarlem105 Radio, Noord-Holland Radio, NRC, Kids Week, and RTL Nieuws. In 2019, her work was selected as a ‘Hot Topic’ at the Society for Neuroscience conference in Chicago, and she received a ‘Best Poster Award’ for Neurotechnology at the Amsterdam Neuroscience meeting. She teaches at the Graduate School for Neurosciences Amsterdam-Rotterdam, gives guest lectures at the University of Amsterdam, Vrije University, Radboud University, and scientific conferences, and participates regularly in panel discussions at public outreach events.
Xing speaks Dutch, Italian, and Mandarin, in addition to her native language, English. She is also the author of a guidebook on cycling targeted at expats, titled ‘Learn to Cycle in Amsterdam.’ In her spare time, she goes windsurfing and stand-up paddle boarding, and paints in watercolor.
For sponsoring the development of the visual protheses, please visit the fundraising page of Ciham Fennich.