Christopher Luzzio, MD
Machinist, Engineer, Neurologist
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Department of Neurology
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Office: (608) 287-2093

Dr. Luzzio standing outside at night with a telescope.
Dr. Luzzio is a neurologist associate professor who specializes in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). He practices within the UW Hospital, Medical School and Medical Foundation (neurology page). He also has an affiliate appointment in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Prior to college he attended a technical arts school in San Francisco where he learned to fabricate devices. He then attended UC, Berkeley where he earned degrees in neurobiology and mechanical engineering (and also enjoyed lots of courses in Greek and Roman classics.) He was trained in medicine at Kansas University then neurology at UW, Madison. After being a junior faculty at UCSF where he became interested in MS, he returned to practice and specialize in MS in Madison.

Since 2003, Dr. Luzzio has volunteered as a mentor for mechanical engineering senior design students and graduate students. He has worked closely with engineering professor Frank Fronczak (emeritus) who has also been a mentor for Dr. Luzzio. The focus of the student projects has been assistive technology and medical related devices. Dr. Luzzio is a member of UW-CREATe which is an ensemble of UW faculty and healthcare specialist who have a common interest in developing assistive technology for disabled individuals.

Dr. Luzzio is a member of a multidisciplinary, interdepartmental team at UW that is researching new engineering methods to improve the treatment of hydrocephalus. He has also been the PI at UW on several phase III pharmaceutical sponsored clinical trials testing new MS therapies. Dr. Luzzio is also a member of The Upper Midwest MS Study Group ( with members that collaborate on MS-related research.

Dr. Luzzio is an amateur astronomer, wood-worker and chess enthusiast. His first involved machining project was a 12.5 inch (mirror diameter) Newtonian reflector telescope. Dr. Luzzio was taught basic machining principles by artist, craftsman, teacher, and friend, William D. Chuchwar of San Francisco, who was his adviser during the telescope project in his junior and senior years of high school.

Selected projects

Prosthetic arm displayed on a stand.
Human interface device designed and built by Dr. Luzzio that allows a person with severe MS who can move only one finger to control an electronic book. This project is completed and currently being used.


Close-up of shunt valve.
This is a prototype patented ventriculoperitoneal shunt valve designed in collaboration with Dr. Josh Medow and fabricated by Dr. Luzzio to treat hydrocephalus. Newer designs are currently under development by the UW Hydrocephalus Group (members from college of engineering and medical school).

Posture-independent piston valve: a novel valve mechanism that actuates based on intracranial pressure alone.
Medow JE, Luzzio CC.
J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2012 Jan;9(1):64-8. doi: 10.3171/2011.10.PEDS1182

       Micro-pump for hydrocephalus research. Designed and machined by Dr. Luzzio (2013).

Custom-engineered wheelchair
This unique wheelchair has been designed and fabricated by senior mechanical engineering students under the mentorship of Dr. Luzzio and instruction by Professors F. Fronczak and H. Ploeg and instructor C. Westphal. It allows a person with severe leg weakness that has inadvertently fallen to the ground during transfers to recover independently of assistance (nearing final design.)

Portion of an engineering drawing for an electronic dissecting instrument showing an assembly diagram and parts list.
Electronic dissection instrument for embryology research. Fabricated while undergraduate at UC-Berkeley 1986 for Professor Ray Keller.

Hand holding the dissection instrument.

Prosthetic arm displayed on a stand.
Part of a system in which the lower limb controls a sophisticated powered artificial arm via a sensory interface “stocking”. Intended to be used for fine motor activities while in a seated position and allows simultaneous joint movements.

Controlling an artificial arm with foot movements.
Luzzio CC.
Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair. 2000;14(3):207-12

Artist with an assistive device welding in a studio.
This artist is using an orthotic device to assist his left arm in supporting heavy metal objects while welding. The device was designed and constructed by graduate student Lindsey Hilbert under the mentorship of Professor Frank Fronczak and Dr. Luzzio (photo with permission).

A more sophisticated version with greater range of motion was developed by Ms. Hilbert and continues to be an on-going project for master degree students.

Another version of the assistive device.
Senior design students developed another version which was completed and delivered to the artist.

Dr. Luzzio has also participated in mentoring students with Professor Fronczak who have designed and built a hand powered cycle, an underwater cycle, an exercise machine, plus other various orthotic and assistive devices.

Another version of the assistive device.
Solid mahogany piano bench crafted by Dr. Luzzio

Dr. Luzzoi holding a projection of Transit-of-Venus across sun.
Projection of Transit-of-Venus (larger dot amongst clouds) across sun.

Dr. Luzzio in his shop
In his shop next to lathe and mill.

Subpages (1): more projects