Ga Tech/MIT Interdisciplinary Team Awarded NIH Grant

An interdisciplinary team from MIT and Georgia Tech has been awarded a $2.6M National Institutes of Health grant entitled "Scalable Cell- and Circuit- Targeted Electrophysiology." 

Led by multiple PI’s Professor Edward Boyden (Associate Professor, Media Lab and McGovern Institute, Depts. of Biological Engineering and Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Professor Craig Forest (Associate Professor, Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Tech), the team will undertake a four-year effort (2017-2021) to empower scientists to characterize synaptic functions in vivo which could greatly accelerate our ability to understand how synapses change in disease, and to pinpoint new clinical targets. By enabling a robotic approach to characterizing synaptic properties, this proposal will empower high-throughput analyses of synapses in vivo.

The grant will enable individual investigators to rapidly analyze synapses between neurons exhibiting neural codes in a behavioral context, so that it is possible to understand how information is transformed at synapses.  Researchers will invent a multiple-neuron image-guided whole cell patch clamp robot, to enable the simultaneous characterization of the neural codes in multiple neurons, as well as the synaptic connections between them. By miniaturizing the hardware, and incorporating a novel nanoscale anatomy exploration tool (expansion microscopy), investigators aim to create a powerful, easy-to-use toolbox that makes the critical task of in vivo synaptic physiology into a routine, automated procedure. By the end of this fast-paced 4-year technology development grant, the team will distribute all tools and datasets as freely as possible, sharing all algorithms, circuit designs, and assembly instructions, and hosting visitors to learn these technologies – for which they have an extensive track record. 

The grant was awarded through the National Eye Institute (NINDS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under Award Number R01NS102727.