Feb 25 2015 - 1:00pm

ECE Seminar Announcement
Dr. Anja Kunze
February 25, 2015
234 Larsen Hall 1:00 pm

Title:                                Nanoengineered intracellular forces and their interplay with neurons
                                                                               Dr. Anja Kunze
                                                            University of California, Los Angeles

Mechanical forces can play different roles in the brain. They appear during the process of brain development, nerve fiber growth and branching, and they also can initiate neural cell death due to severe brain damages. The latter example specifically impacts therapeutic outcomes of brain implants and surgery. To use mechanical forces in the brain to our advantage, we need a better understanding of how we can engineer them, and how functionality of neurons and other brain cells are impacted. Due to the complexity of in vivo experiments, most current approaches are based on externally applied forces. These techniques, however, show restriction when it comes to transferring them into the compact brain tissue. My research uses the ability of superparamagnetic nanoparticles, which I call nanomagnets, to enter the intracellular environment and to apply forces in the low-pico newton range to the cell within magnetic field gradients. In this talk, I will introduce nanomagnets on-chip to exert parallel forces to an array of neuronal cells. I will also present results that suggest the possibility to engineer the location of intracellular proteins through nanomagnetic forces. The nanomagnetic approach is broadly applicable to a diverse range of brain diseases, and other cell phenotypes. It could help us to fine-tune the biomechanical role in neuronal functional models, or may enable us to incorporate mechanical stimulation in neuro-therapeutic implants.

Anja Kunze is a postdoctoral researcher on a Swiss National Science Foundation fellowship in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, working with Dino Di Carlo. Her research focuses on using Micro- and Nanotechnology based tools to understand and engineer brain cell behavior and neurite network formation, with a particular interest in the protein tau and its role in neurodegenerative diseases. Anja Kunze conducted her PhD research at the Swiss Institute of Technology at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) with Philippe Renaud, where she engineered the cortical neuronal cell niche in microfluidics for in vitro cell studies on Alzheimer’s disease. Prior, she obtained her M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the Technical University Dresden in Germany.