Scheme: Industry Fellowship
Organisation: Imperial College London
Dates: Apr 2012-Mar 2016
Summary: I am working in collaboration with a small UK life sciences instrument development company, Scientifica Ltd, to develop novel technology for “reverse engineering” the functionality of brain circuits. By loading brain cells with fluorescent dyes or proteins, and watching brain circuitry under a microscope, we can image patterns of neural activity corresponding to thought processes, and attempt to untangle their meaning. However, traditional microscope “raster” scanning is too slow to allow us to watch patterns of any substantial size, so we have been developing improved scanning strategies that allow us to measure the activity of more brain cells at the same time. This research is leading to improved tools for studying the function of brain circuits both in the healthy brain, and in dysfunctional states such as those caused by neurodegenerative disease, by developmental disorders, or by brain injury. In turn, this should allow us to better understand how therapies such as drug treatments for brain disorders are affecting brain circuitry. A major focus for the group going forward is the use of our tools to understand the changes in brain processes underlying Alzheimer’s Disease and aging.