Entries by Academic Web Pages

Brain Organoid Characterization

Brain organoids have allowed neuroscientists to make valid predictions about human neurodevelopmental diseases on the basis of organoid morphology, cellular distribution and composition, and gene expression. Following this trajectory, neuroscientists have proposed brain organoids as a model of human synaptic function. However, this approach is hindered by a primary limitation: techniques to characterize the electrophysiology of living synapses are far too slow and laborious to be applied to comparative or longitudinal studies required to validate organoid models and generate new hypotheses. We are currently addressing this limitation to the growth of brain organoids as a model of synaptic physiology by advancing the throughput and quality of automated multiple patch clamping in intact brain organoids.

Genetically-Encoded Voltage Indicators and Effectors

We are extending on our prior pioneering work on automated patch clamping robots by developing a robotic patch clamp system for optogenetic tool screening. We will then apply this technology to improve the kinetics of different optogenetic molecules, and also seek to improve the performance of an important class of optogenetic tool – improving the selectivity and conductances of light-gated potassium channels.

Neuro-Pharmacological Screening

Our lab, in conjunction with our collaborators at Emory (Andrew Jenkins and Steve Traynelis) have added improvements to the patcherBot system in order to improve neuropharmacology screening. These improvements include manipulation of heterologous cells and control of submillisecond solution exchange to mimic the speed at which neurotransmitters are released and removed from the synaptic cleft, where they activate ligand-gated ionotropic receptors. The “pharmaBot” system can perform typical ligand-gated ionotropic receptors experimentation protocols autonomously that allows for a high experiment completion success rates and can reduce the operator’s effort substantially.

Aerial Bacteria and Virus Detection

Our lab, in collaboration with GTRI and other labs at Georgia Tech (David Hu Lab, Eric Vogel Lab, food and Processing) is developing the next generation sensor for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). This deployable device will collect air particulate and provide crucial WMD agent identification, location and concentration information vital to battlefield decision making. We are bridging our microfluidics expertise for the filtration aspect of the project and look for the projects’ applications in other areas such as point-of-care diagnostics, pollution control, among others.

Bacterial Communication

Genetically engineered bacteria can be used for a wide range of applications, from monitoring environmental toxins to studying complex communication networks in the human digestive system. Although great strides have been made in studying single strains of bacteria in well-controlled microfluidic environments, there remains a need for tools to reliably control and measure communication between multiple discrete bacterial populations. Stable long-term experiments (e.g., days) with controlled population sizes and regulated input (e.g., concentration) and output measurements can reveal fundamental limits of cell-to-cell communication. We have developed a microfluidic platform that utilizes a porous monolith to reliably and stably partition adjacent strains of bacteria while allowing molecular communication between them for several days. This porous monolith microfluidic system enables bacterial cell-to-cell communication assays with dynamic control of inputs, relatively long-term experimentation with no cross contamination, and stable bacterial population size. This system can serve as a valuable tool in understanding bacterial communication and improving biosensor design capabilities.

Congrats Dr. William Stoy

Dr. William Stoy successfully defended his thesis this Winter. His thesis focused on how to increase yields of deep brain, in vivo patch clamp recordings by detecting and dodging large obsticles and compensating for the neuron motion caused by the mouse’s heart beat and breathing.

Miniature Patch Clamp Amplifier Chip wins NIH SBIR

Congratulations to our collaborator, Reid Harrison, and Intan Technologies, for the success of a $1 Million NIH SBIR through 2017! Intan and the Precision Biosystems Lab will be developing and testing a custom microchip amplifier for patch clamp electrophysiology recording for low-cost, highly multiplexed whole cell recordings in vitro and in vivo!

Dr. Forest Receives a White House BRAIN Initiative Award

The National Institutes of Health announced investments totaling $46M to support the goals of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. More than 100 investigators in 15 states and several countries will work to develop new tools and technologies to understand neural circuit function and capture a dynamic view of the brain in […]