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Award Abstract #1253890

CAREER: Optoelectronic neural scaffolds: materials platform for investigation and control of neuronal activity and development

Div Of Chem, Bioeng, Env, & Transp Sys
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Initial Amendment Date: February 8, 2013
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Latest Amendment Date: February 10, 2016
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Award Number: 1253890
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Award Instrument: Continuing grant
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Program Manager: Carol Lucas
CBET Div Of Chem, Bioeng, Env, & Transp Sys
ENG Directorate For Engineering
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Start Date: February 15, 2013
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End Date: January 31, 2018 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $450,000.00
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Investigator(s): Polina Anikeeva anikeeva@mit.edu (Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA 02139-4301 (617)253-1000
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NSF Program(s): Gen & Age Rel Disabilities Eng,
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Program Reference Code(s): 004E, 017E, 1045, 137E
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Program Element Code(s): 5342, 5345




Intellectual Merit

This CAREER proposal aims to bridge the gap between advanced optoelectronic

materials design and invasive and outdated devices used to treat neurological

disorders. By developing flexible, biocompatible polymer-based optoelectronic scaffolds

(OPTELS) a strategy for incorporating individual optically sensitive neurons into neural

recording and stimulation devices will be created. These trapped neurons will be

investigated as relays of optical stimulation or inhibition to intact neural networks, which

will potentially enable future clinical applications of optogenetics, a powerful optical

neural stimulation tool, without genetic modification of the patient. Specifically the

project will be focused on the following objectives: (1) Developing fiber-inspired

fabrication methods for hollow-core polymer-based OPTELS and employing them to

isolate key materials parameters (surface geometry, charge, flexibility) contributing to

survival and growth of electronically active neurons; (2) Using OPTELS to investigate

and control neuronal growth with the goal of axonal guidance along the OPTELS core.

The proposed study will explore chemical, optoelectronic and mechanical stimuli and

employ OPTELS ability to record and stimulate neural activity to determine factors

contributing to axonal growth; (3) Employing neurons trapped in OPTELS cores as relay

devices of optical neural interrogation. Genetic modification will be applied to the

neurons trapped within the OPTELS cores to enable expression of light-sensitive ion

channels - opsins. The controlled formation of synapses between these relay neurons

and the outside networks will be applied to the investigation of optogenetic interrogation

of the network without directly genetically modifying it.

Broader Impact

The proposed project will explore materials interfaces between optoelectronic devices

and neural tissues providing a pathway towards intimate physiological neuroprosthetic

devices for treatment of debilitating neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease

or spinal cord injury. The educational and outreach components of the project are

designed to enhance materials engineering and optoelectronics education at MIT and at

inner city community colleges through classroom training and hands-on laboratory

internships. Specifically the outreach program aims to increase awareness about the

impact of engineering in medicine among community college students and teachers

through the seminar series "Medical Electronics and Optics: Life-saving Engineering",

and 10-week research and education summer internships in the PIs laboratory. In

addition new lecture material and device-design based assignments will be developed

for the core undergraduate course on optical and electronic materials and a graduate

photonics course will be adapted to senior undergraduates with the goal of advancing

optoelectronics knowledge among the students. The educational materials will be made

available to worldwide community of learners through an open MIT web-based



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Andres Canales, Xiaoting Jia, Ulrich P. Froriep, Ryan A. Koppes, Christina M. Tringides, Jennifer Selvidge, Chi Lu, Lei Wei, Chong Hou, Yoel Fink, and Polina Anikeeva. "Multimodal Fibers for Optical, Electrical and Chemical Interrogation of Neural Circuits in Vivo," Nature Biotechnology, 2015.

Chi Lu, Ulrich P. Froriep, Ryan A. Koppes, Andres Canales, Vittorio Caggiano, Jennifer Selvidge, Emilio Bizzi, and Polina Anikeeva. "Polymer Fiber Probes Enable Optical Control of Spinal Cord and Muscle Function In Vivo," Advanced Functional Materials, v.42, 2014, p. 6594. 

Koppes, R.A., Park, S., Hood, T., Jia, X., Poorheravi, N.A., Achyuta, A.K.H., Fink, Y., Anikeeva, P.. "Thermally Drawn Fibers as Nerve Guidance Scaffolds," Biomaterials, v.81, 2016, p. 27.

Seongjun Park, Ryan A. Koppes, Xiaoting Jia, Anil Kumar H. Achyuta, Bryan L. McLaughlin, Polina Anikeeva. "Optogenetic control of nerve growth," Scientific Reports, v.5, 2015, p. 9669. 


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