IONs Neuroengineering Seed Grants Awarded

Neuroengineering seed grants were awarded to three interdisciplinary teams of researchers across five departments. It is hoped that these grants will help build bridges between neuroscientists and engineers to position UMass to make new advancements at the interface between these fields.

The winning proposals are:

“Engineering Morphogen-gradient Induced brain Organoids (MIBO) with single neural tube-like spatial topography”
ChangHui Pak (Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)
Yubing Sun (Dept of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering)
The goal of this research is to develop the next generation of brain-organoids that feature single neural tube-like structures with continuous and functional subdivisions of the brain (forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain). This will allow researchers to monitor mature states over long-term culture in a highly reproducible manner. This could help in the development of novel therapeutics.

“An in vitro platform for nanobody generation and molecular interrogation of intact neural circuits”
Joseph Bergan (Dept of Psychological and Brain Sciences)
Eric Strieter (Dept of Chemistry)
The goal of this collaborative project is to generate a toolkit of nanobodies designed to differentiate classes of neurons in the intact brain based on neurotransmitters and the cognate receptors they express. This toolkit will be broadly applicable and will be made freely available. When combined with Magnetohydrodynamic force-based antibody labeling, it may be possible to observe neural circuits deep inside tissue samples, revealing neuroanatomy with fine detail while also preserving the macroscopic organization of the intact brain.

“Next-generation mesh electrode arrays for large-scale, minimally-invasive, long-term neuron ensemble recording”
Jun Yao (Dept of Electrical and Computer Engineering)
David Moorman (Dept of Psychological & Brain Sciences)
Luke Remage-Healey (Dept of Psychological & Brain Sciences)
The aim of this project is to develop a new generation of mesh-electrode probes, which can enable simplified and efficient implant and use by non-expert users and reduced tissue damage in the surgical procedure. This platform will be easily implemented across a wide range of research domains, facilitating new lines of research that were not possible using previous technology.

These seed grants arose from competition in Neuroengineering. Applicants presented their proposals for collaborations at Faculty Forums this summer. Proposals were judged by a panel of UMass scientists.