Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Round 3 – 2006

Scott Delp, Bioengineering
Terry Sanger, Neurology and Neuroscience
Mark Schnitzer, Biology
Stephen Smith, Molecular and Cellular Physiology

Sarcomeres, the building blocks of muscle, generate the forces that allow us to reach, grasp, walk, and run. Sarcomeres are disrupted in muscle injuries and in neuromuscular diseases, such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. The goal of this project is to design and build a miniature microscope that will make it possible, for the first time, to see and study sarcomeres in living humans. We will insert our new microscope into muscle using a small needle. This will allow us to visualize sarcomeres shortening and lengthening as the muscle contracts and relaxes. If we are successful, this project will provide the single most important advance in muscle imaging of the decade. This novel microscope will enable us to measure sarcomere lengths in healthy subjects and in individuals with neuromuscular diseases, allowing us to discover the mechanisms leading to disabling muscle weakness and to devise improved treatments.