Title: Nanotechnology for Mapping, Controlling, and Building Brain Circuits and Other Complex Systems
Nanoscience Colloquium by Prof. Ed Boyden (MIT), one of the pioneers of optogenetics, but also of some very innovative nanofabrication techniques. Ed is the leader of the Synthetic Biology Group at MIT, a high profile lab with very many exciting projects: https://syntheticneurobiology.org/
To enable the understanding, repair, and building of complex systems
such as the brain, we are creating novel nanotechnological tools that
enable molecular-resolution maps of large scale systems, as well as
technologies for observing and controlling high-speed physiological
dynamics in such systems. First, we have developed a method for
imaging large 3-D specimens with nanoscale precision, by embedding
them in a swellable polymer, homogenizing their mechanical properties,
and exposing them to water – which causes them to expand isotropically
manyfold. This method, which we call expansion microscopy (ExM;
Science (2015) 347(6221):543-548), enables scalable, inexpensive
diffraction-limited microscopes to do large-volume nanoscopy, in a
multiplexed fashion – important, for example, for brain mapping.
Running this process in reverse – which we call implosion fabrication
(ImpFab; Science (2018) 362(6420):1281-1285) enables the direct
assembly of 3D nanomaterials consisting of metals, semiconductors, and
biomolecules arranged in virtually any 3D geometry.
Second, we have developed a set of genetically-encoded reagents, known as optogenetic
tools, that when expressed in specific neurons, serve as
single-protein devices that enable their electrical activities to be
precisely driven or silenced in response to millisecond timescale
pulses of light. These templates, appropriately evolved, can be
transformed into reagents that serve as fluorescent voltage
indicators, enabling the imaging of fast physiological processes in
3-D with millisecond precision. In this way we aim to enable the
systematic mapping, control, and dynamical observation of complex
biological systems like the brain.
Coffee and fika will be served from 15.00!