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Micro-engineering for the fabrication of specific living neuron circuits

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Vanessa Blake.

As an interdisciplinary scientist I have worked between chemistry, materials, physics, biology and engineering, and much of the skills or appreciation for the tools that are used in each of these areas has been central to the development of my research. It is well known that biological interactions with materials is largely governed by the surface characteristics presented. Surface chemistry, micro- and nano-topography are possibly the most appreciated, although there is still very little understood about how to specifically engineer materials to direct complex biological processes. In this talk I will give an overview of my work focussing on biological-surface interactions, specifically for the control of neural cells. We have been able to use surface chemical approaches to direct neural stem cell responses, and more recently have made use of Biofabrication approaches for the development of an in vitro cellular model comprised of multiple separate types of neurons being cultured in segregation but allowed to connect via axonal outgrowth. Alongside morphological connectivity, we have also shown synaptic connectivity and model tissue function using fluorometric calcium imaging and integrated multi-electrode arrays. These advanced models of neural architecture, inferring realistic functional tissue, are needed to enable better insight into normal brain function and the development of new strategies to tackle neurological disease. The basal ganglia has been the focus of our work to date, but these methods can be used more widely across other neurodegenerative and brain trauma conditions.

This talk is part of the Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology occasional seminars series.

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