Research Project Title:
Designer Neuronal Networks: Studying and Guiding Neuronal Differentiation with miRNA-based Genetic Circuits
abstract:Stem-cell technologies hold promise for treating a variety of neurological disorders. However, protocols for the differentiation of stem cells into neurons have low efficiency and provide scientists with little flexibility to custom-produce neurons of particular subtypes. The focus of this project will be to apply tools from synthetic and systems biology to develop better techniques for controlling stem cell differentiation. In particular, we plan to develop microRNA (miRNA) sensors that are capable of stably integrating into the genome of stem cells and dynamically detecting the state of stem cells undergoing differentiation. Through creating these miRNA sensors, we expect to achieve the first step in a platform for controlling the behavior of stem cells at any point in differentiation.
“The SuperUROP program excites me as an opportunity to dive deeper into the synthetic biology research I have conducted in the past. As a double major in electrical and biological engineering, I am thrilled by how synthetic biology allows me to blend what I have learned from the coursework I have seen in both my majors. I look forward to helping to develop technologies that have an impact on patients’ lives and continuing to grow as a researcher.”