Bio-X Graduate Student Fellow

Awarded in 2022
Home Department: Chemistry
Faculty Advisors: Bianxiao Cui (Chemistry) and Jun Ding (Neurosurgery and Neurology & Neurological Sciences)

Research Title: Optical Electrophysiology Using Electrochromic Materials

Research Description: Advancing tools to record electrical activity in neurons is fundamental to understanding memory formation and neurological disorders. Here, the Cui lab propose a label-free electrochromic optical recording (ECORE) approach with high-throughput, scanning abilities to study electrical activity in dopaminergic neurons, which are the main source of dopamine in the central nervous system. The death of dopaminergic neurons also plays an important role in Parkinson’s disease. By growing neurons on thin films of electrochromic material and building a modified prism-based total internal reflection setup, ECORE is able to detect local color changes induced by electrical activity and record electrical signals using an approach that is non-invasive, spatially flexible, and not limited by photobleaching or phototoxicity. Incorporating scanning abilities would allow the study of dopaminergic neuron circuitry through multi-site recording. Completion of this work would advance the novel ECORE method and allow for further study of electrical activity and circuitry of neurons essential to dopamine production.