EPFL BioE Talks SERIES "Tools for Analyzing and Controlling Complex Biological Systems"


Event details

Date 09.11.2020
Hour 16:0016:30
Speaker Prof. Ed Boyden, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA (USA)
Location Online
Category Conferences - Seminars
(note that this talk is number one of a double-feature seminar - see details of the second talk here)

To enable the understanding and repair of complex biological systems, such as the brain, we are creating novel optical tools that enable molecular-resolution maps of such systems, as well as technologies for observing and controlling high-speed physiological dynamics in such systems. First, we have developed a method for imaging specimens with nanoscale precision, by embedding them in a swellable polymer, homogenizing their mechanical properties, and exposing them to water – which causes them to expand manyfold isotropically. This method, which we call expansion microscopy (ExM), enables ordinary microscopes to do nanoscale imaging, in a multiplexed fashion – important, for example, for brain mapping. Second, we have developed a set of genetically-encoded reagents, known as optogenetic tools, that when expressed in specific neurons, enable their electrical activities to be precisely driven or silenced in response to millisecond timescale pulses of light. Finally, we are designing, and evolving, novel reagents, such as fluorescent voltage indicators and somatically targeted calcium indicators, to enable the imaging of fast physiological processes in 3-D with millisecond precision. In this way we aim to enable the systematic mapping, control, and dynamical observation of complex biological systems like the brain.

Ed Boyden is Y. Eva Tan Professor in Neurotechnology at MIT, an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the MIT McGovern Institute, and professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Media Arts and Sciences, and Biological Engineering at MIT. He leads the Synthetic Neurobiology Group, which develops tools for analyzing and repairing complex biological systems such as the brain, and applies them systematically to reveal ground truth principles of biological function as well as to repair these systems. These technologies include expansion microscopy, which enables complex biological systems to be imaged with nanoscale precision; optogenetic tools, which enable the activation and silencing of neural activity with light; robotic methods for directed evolution that are yielding new synthetic biology reagents for dynamic imaging of physiological signals, such as neural voltagenovel methods of noninvasive focal brain stimulation; and new methods of nanofabrication using shrinking of patterned materials to create nanostructures with ordinary lab equipment. He co-directs the MIT Center for Neurobiological Engineering, which aims to develop new tools to accelerate neuroscience progress.

Zoom link (with registration) for attending remotely: https://go.epfl.ch/EPFLBioETalks

IMPORTANT NOTICE: due to restrictions resulting from the ongoing Covid-19 situation, this seminar can be followed via Zoom web-streaming only, following prior one-time registration through the link above.

Practical information

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