Our research uses engineering to solve clinical problems and advance human health. We aim to develop new ways to tinker with the body with greater spatial and temporal resolution to diagnose and treat disease. This work can be divided into two areas: neuroengineering and translational medicine.
Neurological disorders are increasingly prevalent in our population. We now understand many of these diseases result from dysfunction of a specific brain circuit. The nervous system also extensively innervates all organs in our bodies, and communicates with metabolic and endocrine pathways. We combine mechanical, electrical, materials, and bio-engineering toolkits towards designing minimally invasive technologies for neuromodulation. Some examples of this work are below:
Brain Neural Interfacing
We develop a variety of brain implants for access to deep brain regions for electrical interfacing and drug delivery. These include miniaturized neural drug delivery systems, which can be remotely controlled to deliver medications to brain regions and steerable microprobes for minimally-invasive implants (PNAS, 115 (28), 2018; Sci Trans Med, 10(425), 2018). We also developed computational tools to optimize targeting (Cell Rep, 31(10), 2020).
The gastrointestinal tract harbors an extensive enteric nervous system which connects with the brain. Ongoing projects in the lab are focused on developing ingestible devices to interface with the enteric nervous system for neuromodulation.
(Science Robotics, 8(77), 2023; Trends Pharmacol Sci., 41(12), 2020) and mapping the GI tract (Nat Electronics, 6, 242–256, 2023).
We work on various projects that tackle specific problems in medicine, with a goal to improve patient care.
Safe Ventilator Splitting
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we developed the individualized system for augmenting ventilator efficacy (iSAVE). The iSAVE ensures safe ventilator splitting across multiple patients by controlling patient-specific pressure and volume. The iSAVE uses off-the-shelf components readily available in hospitals and clinics, enabling its use in emergency and under-resourced settings. We established a non-profit, Project Prana Foundation, with the goal of enabling access to iSAVE technology. (Sci Trans Med, 12, 549, 2020)
A major goal in cancer therapeutics is to individualize therapy to ensure patients are receiving the most appropriate drug for specific cancers. This can be challenging given the wide variation in cancer phenotypes and drugs available. We developed micro-devices loaded with micro-depots of various drugs that are then implanted into patient-derived xenograft tumors. 24 hours later, the sensitivity of the cancer to drugs can be assessed using machine learning algorithms, enabling more efficacious care to be delivered quickly. (Translational Oncology, 21, 2022)