FEIT Research Project Database

Nano-scaffolds for neuroengineering

Project Leader: Vini Gautam
Primary Contact: Vini Gautam (vini.gautam@unimelb.edu.au)
Keywords: brain; nanotechnology; neural engineering; neuroimaging; scaffolds
Disciplines: Biomedical Engineering

Our brain is the control centre for most of our day to day activities. It controls all functions – simple to complex; motion to memory; all via the electrically active neuronal cells. These cells connect with each other into a neuronal circuit that performs a specific function. For example, the olfactory circuits provide us with the amazing ability to sense and distinguish between the various types of smells.

When a particular neuronal circuit is disrupted due to an injury or a disease, the corresponding function is lost, leading to a disability related to that function in the body.

How do the cells know which circuit to form? How does the circuit know which function to perform? Once damaged, why can’t (or can?) these circuits be repaired?

These are some of the big questions this project will solve. We will focus on understanding how neuronal circuits form and function in response to their environment, specifically at the nanoscale.

This is a highly cross-disciplinary project – it will involve fabrication of novel scaffolds for cell growth on one hand (nanotechnology). And studying the formation and function of neural circuits on the other (neuroscience).

Students with a background in materials / chemical / biomedical engineering with some experience in (or a keen interest in learning skills in) biology/neuroscience [and vice versa] are encouraged to contact Dr Vini Gautam. Please include your CV and a brief description of your research interests and/or aspirations.