CU Anschutz and CU Boulder scientists receive NIH OT2OD023852 award

Weir Headshot 142x212.jpgRichard Weir, Associate Research Professor in the Department of Bioengineering, and colleagues receive funding to develop an Optical Probe capable of Activating/Reporting on axon activity in nerves of parasympathetic nervous system.  Current neuro-modulation approaches for the vagus nerve (aka parasympathetic nervous system) are generally all or nothing events that cause simultaneous changes in heart rate, for example, along with changes in pancreatic function. Our goal for this project is to develop a novel compact Optogenetic based Optical Probe capable of optically neuromodulating individual afferent and/or efferent axons within nerves of the parasympathetic, or peripheral, nervous system. We seek to read-in or read-out from these nerves with the goal of modulating the organs or brain circuits innervated by them.

Our central premise is that we can use optics to communicate with axons in a nerve. For optical approaches to work we need to convert action potentials into an optical signal. This can be done using reporter proteins or by some other means that is ancillary to action potential generation. Because nerves do not naturally express optical proteins, we will work with transgenic mice that express these proteins and use these mice to refine our system before making it available for other researchers to use. We are proposing to couple an optical fiber with an electrowetting lens head to allow remote interrogation of the vagus nerve with a bench top (i.e. portable) laser system. Integration of miniature (1mm diameter) scale electrowetting electrically tunable optics with an optical fiber-based imaging system will enable two-photon fluorescence imaging of neuron activity by readout of a fluorescent indicator.

We will work with collaborators in the field of pancreatic research to test, refine and demonstrate our ability to activate/report from in-vitro mouse vagus nerves and to see if we can control and/or sense pancreatic responses in the absence of other responses, such as a change in heart rate, using targeted neuro-modulation of specific axons in the vagus in in-vivo transgenic mice experiments.

CEAS kickball 2016-photos and recap

On Friday, October 7, more than 40 students, staff and faculty convened on the CU Denver athletic field to play kickball. The weather was beautiful, and everyone had a great time. The first game between the Hemoglobin Trotters (bioengineering) and the Bit Kickers (computer science) ended with a Hemoglobin Trotters victory. Game two was ASCE/civil engineering versus the Grass Kickers (electrical, mechanical and college staff), and resulted in a ASCE/civil engineering victory.

Check out the pictures below. We can’t wait for next year’s games!

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Golkowski discusses the science of sparking veggies with NPR

Golkowski (9-12)-WEBMark Golkowski, associate professor of electrical engineering, recently spoke with NPR about why veggies sometimes spark while being cooked in the microwave.

According to Golkowski, “The sparking happens because of a local field enhancement. A very specific kind of geometry leads to this effect, so you could have one set of beans that does it and one that doesn’t.”

Read the story here.

Dr. Joshua St. Clair awarded NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Joshua St. Clair, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Richard Benninger’s research
group in the Department of Bioengineering, has been awarded a 2-year Individual Postdoctoral National Research Service Award from the National InStClair.jpgstitutes of Health, totaling $113,412. Josh’s studies will be focused on determining how the electrical activity of pancreatic islets is altered in pre-type2 diabetes. Specifically, Josh will study the mechanisms by which electrical coupling of pancreatic beta-cells is dysregulated in the early type2 diabetic environment, and exploit these mechanisms to engineer novel biologics in hopes of preventing disease progression.