Helen A. Sakharova

Helen A. Sakharova
MIT EECS | Himawan Undergraduate Research and Innovation Scholar
Advisor: Ron Weiss
Department: EECS
Areas of Research: Biological Engineering
Years: 2017-2018
Research Project Title:

Computer-Guided Engineering of Neuronal Circuits

abstract:The ability to create a precisely specified neuronal circuit in a cell culture would provide valuable opportunities to investigate ideas about the development and function of neuronal networks. My project will focus on genetically engineering neurons to form high-level neuronal circuits in response to computer-controlled light signals. This will be done through optogenetically controlled axonal and synaptic pruning, apoptosis, and neurotransmitter type change. The project will also involve the creation of an algorithm to process images of neuronal circuits and issue the optogenetic commands needed to achieve the desired arrangement of cells. The goal of this project is, starting from a random group of neurons, to be able to achieve a specific configuration of cells using optical signals.
About:

“Through this SuperUROP project, I hope to gain practical experience in both genetic engineering and computer vision. I have significant background knowledge in both biological research (from previous UROPs) and computer science. I am excited for the opportunity to apply these two skill sets, learn more about neuroscience, and pursue an independent research project.”