MURI: Understanding and Controlling the Coupled Electrical Chemical Mechanical Excitable Networks of Living Systems

Project: Research project

Project Details


Our main objective is to elucidate the characteristic timescales of the dynamics and characteristic length scales on which intracellular excitable networks can be guided, triggered or inhibited. We will focus on electrical stimulation, which can be applied repeatedly with existing fast and small device platforms for the processing of electrical signals. This insight will inform the design of cell scale man-machine interfaces and augmented reality devices. Objectives: Single cell electric stimulation and measurement, and collective cell perturbations Task: Design and build electrodes for targeted single-point and spatiotemporarlly patterned stimulation. We will also actively participate in the experiments using these electrodes and devices for understanding the coupling between biochemical-electric-mechanical signaling pathways in our collaboration with all other groups. A funded extension would allow us to extend the basic science studies of excitable systems systematically to neuronal cells. In our growing collaborations, findings are proving particularly promising in translation to neuronal systems, and in their implications for the basic science of information flow in living systems. The extension year would allow us to gain critical insights into how excitable systems sense, store and process information in their dynamics on multiple scales. It would also allow us to continue collaborations with an unpaid industry partner (Lockheed Martin) which is integrating the basic science of information processing in the brain into advanced AI algorithms. Considering information transmission and storage through biomechanical and biochemical systems represent a paradigm shift that will lead to novel approaches to understand and augment memory and cognition. Our current MURI research involves several neuronal cell lines including PC12 cells that were used to demonstrate electric field guidance in retinal explants, rat embryonic neurons that are being analyzed for their excitable biochemical character, and mouse auditory cortex studied in-vivo. For systematic studies on neuronal systems we will utilize well characterized PC12 cells that can be electrically guided to differentiate into neuronal like cells with typical neurites. Scope of work at Arizona State University (Qing Laboratory) Our recent work demonstrated in MCF10A cells both inhibition and activation of ERK by EF modulation through electrostatic coupling. In this extension year, we will investigate modulation of ERK dynamics by AC EF in PC12 cells, and in brain cortex in live animals. We will develop new chips and equipment for delivering local EF with precise timing and waveform control for EF modulation of selected cell population. We will develop new devices for implanted EF modulation and two-photon imaging of cortical cells in live animals. We will collaborate in the study of dynamic ERK modulation protocol for PC12 cells, and evaluate optimal parameter for controlling the proliferation and differentiation behaviors of the cells.
Effective start/end date4/1/163/31/22


  • DOD-USAF-AFRL: Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR): $2,059,879.00


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