Ebenezer Nkwate

Ebenezer  Nkwate
MIT EECS Undergraduate Research and Innovation Scholar
Advisor: Timothy K. Lu
Department: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Areas of Research: Biomedical
Years: 2016-2017

Synthetic Gene Circuits for Cardiomyocyte Proliferation and Heart Disease Treatment

Organisms like many smart systems monitor their environment and response to various factors (inputs) with a variety of complex behaviors including but not limited to gene expression cell morphology and motility regulation of the cell cycle and growth and protein secretion. The circuits that control such responses are usually genetic in nature and have evolved over time to augment the fitness of the organism. Synthetic gene circuits are circuits engineered to perform user-defined functions in a predictable and reliable manner. This project aims to build genetic circuits that stimulate adult mammalian cardiomyocytes (cardiac muscle cells) proliferation because cardiomyocytes exhibit limited proliferation. This has adverse effects following a heart attack or disease.

The human system provides many regulatory pathways. The ability of organic systems especially the human body to efficiently control so many reactions with vast dependencies has always intrigued me. My goal therefore is to understand how to influence these systems in their disease state in order to restore optimal function using my knowledge of human physiology analog circuit design and algorithmic thinking.