Research

Ismailova group: Bioelectronic textiles

Textile electrodes for electrocardiography

Textile electrodes for electrocardiography

Textile electrodes for electrocardiographyTextiles offer a variety of advantages as mechanical supports for bioelectronic devices including low cost, conformability, and reduced invasiveness. We are exploring the integration of different bioelectronic devices on textiles, including electrodes, transistors and biochemical sensors. We use traditional and non-traditional patterning techniques such as photolithography and printing. The aim is to develop a family of medical devices for long-term monitoring of patients in the clinic and for applications in sports and recreation.

Malliaras group: Neuroengineering

Transistor array placed on the cortex of a rat

Transistor array placed on the cortex of a rat

We explore the application of organic electronic materials in neural interfacing, aiming to understand how the brain works and to develop new tools for the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders. Among our achievements are (i) the development of ultra-conformable microelectrode arrays for recording corticograms, recently used in the clinic to record single neuron activity from the surface of the brain of epileptic patients, (ii) the first use of a transistor in recording brain activity, resulting in record-high signal-to-noise ratio, and (iii) the development of an electrophoretic device that stops epileptiform activity in a brain slice model through localized drug delivery. We are also developing a new effort in neuromorphic devices for processing bioelectronics signals.

O’Connor group: Oncoelectronics

Cancer is a disease with electrical aspects that have yet to be exploited therapeutically. We are developing new ways of electrically interfacing with and controlling malignant tissue with pulsed electric fields, pursuing a device-based electroceutical approach to cancer therapeutics which we call Oncoelectronics. At the moment, we are exploring the potential of flexible organic electronic technology for the application of bioelectric therapeutics and the sensing of cancer. This fusion of bioelectronics and bioelectrics aims to develop new delivery devices for electropulsation and electroporation-related therapeutics (electrochemotherapy, electrogenetherapy, irreversible electroporation and ultrashort pulsed electric therapies). Current projects include the development of microelectrode arrays for in vitro multiwell, high throughput imaging-based screening studies of bioelectric effects on cancer, and the development of flexible organic electrode arrays for the delivery of pulsed electric fields in vivo for preclinical cancer investigations.

Owens group: In vitro systems

Biological frontplace used in novel biosensors

The alternative to testing on animal models is the use of cell-based models in vitro. However, the validity and predictive ability of in vitro based models has been shown to be poor and results in significant failures of therapeutics with a high associated price-tag. A number of criteria have emerged to govern future development of in vitro models: They should be 3D, use human cells where possible, and incorporate perfusion/microfluidic systems. A major issue however, is accurate, real-time assessment of these models which are often incompatible with traditional (mostly optical) monitoring systems. In my group we work on harnessing the power of engineering for developing in vitro models. By developing both the biological model and the adapted monitoring system in parallel, both may be iteratively improved resulting in more predictive models with real meaning for diagnostics and therapeutics developments. We term this approach in vitro systems: an integrated system to monitor human biology in vitro. Specifically, we focus on the use of organic electronic materials and devices which bridge a gap between hard, rigid materials used for physical transducers and soft, compliant biological tissues, allowing a new understanding of how to probe biological systems in the least invasive and thus most biomimetic fashion possible. The three major research activities in the group are:

  1. Basic understanding of the interface of biological materials (cells and subcellular components (g. lipid bilayers) with transducers
  2. Development of 3D models of human tissues and organs with integrated fluidics and electronics
  3. Use of 3D in vitro systems to answer specific questions related to human pathology