Neural Networks in 3D human iPSC-derived Neurons to Assess Genetic Phenotypes

Program Period: 
6/1/14 - 11/30/16

Develop 3D ‘mini-brains’ to reveal brain circuitry and to manipulate that circuitry genetically using a multidisciplinary team that would attract relevant NIH or DARPA grants


Sophisticated optical images combined with advanced recording techniques have allowed us to visualize functional connectivity. However, the genetic controls over the formation, maintenance and plasticity of complex brain circuitry are unknown. Most brain circuitry resides beyond our ability to observe its activity. The complexity of the connections even among a few hundred neurons is staggering, thereby leaving the link between anatomical and electrical connectivity poorly-defined.  This interdisciplinary effort aims to use mini-brains to reveal brain circuitry and to manipulate that circuitry genetically. The project looks to create a 3D matrix of neurons on a polymer scaffolding, then map it with a multi-electrode array (MEA) and complex analytics to identify the firing of individual neurons in response to an applied signal. The PIs recently were awarded a 3-year DARPA grant to further develop the MEA, and additional NIH, NSF, and Beckman grants will be targeted in 2015. Completion of two manuscripts is also expected by summer of 2015.