Neural MicroEngineering Laboratory

Our aim is to study how tissue architectural and microenvironmental factors affect neural axon growth and physiology in order to develop multifaceted, translational treatment strategies for neurological disorders. To investigate these phenomena, we are developing microscale technologies that make use of synthetic chemistry, materials science, micro-optoelectronics, microfabrication, optogenetics, computational modeling, and neurobiology. Selected projects are described below:

Integrated models of neural axon growth & guidance

The manner in which neural cells grow in response to multiple signals from their microenvironment is not fully understood. We have developed in vitro models that allow control of the structural and molecular microenvironment for careful studies on how multiple cues direct axon growth. Further, we are developing agent-based computational models of growth, which will assist in the design and interpretation of our in vitro experiments.

Portions of this project are funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Louisiana Board of Regents

Multiscale optical neuroactivation control

A number of techniques for optical control of neuroactivation have recently been developed. We are developing hardware and software for exquisite spatiotemporal control of neuroactivation on multiple length scales. These techniques will be useful for neuroscience research in which control over the activation of large groups of cells in specific locations is desired. This approach is compatible with 2D and 3D cell cultures as well as organotypic slice cultures. The techniques will also allow us to study the effects of physiological activation on axon regeneration in tissue culture models.

Multifunctional photoreactive hydrogels

We are developing novel hydrogels whose physical and chemical properties can be changed with incident light for use in tissue engineering and 3D in vitro models of tissue growth. By exploiting variable bandwidth sensitivity of different functional groups, we are developing materials whose responses may be tailored by exposure to different wavelengths of light.

Department of Biomedical Engineering Lindy Boggs Center Suite 500
Tulane University New Orleans, LA 70118 (504) 865-5897

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