GCR: Programmable Nanorobots Integration with Magnetically-Driven Neuron and Brain Tissue Regeneration
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In this convergent project, mechanical and biomedical engineers, a nanoscientist, and neuroscientists develop new understanding of how to program magnetic nanorobots to effectively communicate and interact inside networks of neurons. If successful, this may provide a possible approach for non-invasive brain therapeutics. The fundamental analysis of the cellular interaction behavior of magnetic nanorobots may lay a foundation for novel and translatable approaches to treat intractable disorders such as neurodegeneration, epilepsy, chronic pain, and spinal cord injury. Additionally, the research promotes disciplinary integration across nanoscience, mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, neuroscience and experimental therapeutics. The project provides research experiences for high school teacher and students, undergraduate and graduate students. The knowledge generated by the convergent effort will form novel frameworks to catalyze scientific discovery and innovation in brain tissue regeneration and repair, and will provide a powerful, scalable and controllable technology of self-driving nanorobots transporting and functioning inside the brain environment. It will also enhance fundamental understanding of long-term changes in the activity of specific neural circuits with degenerative neurons. An explainable artificial intelligence framework provides additional quantitative assays to complement a biologically plausible, continuously remodeling, analytical, microvascular network model. Furthermore, combined with recent advances in power electronics, this project holds a high potential for contributing to the development of a new machine learning model that improves researchers’ capacity for studying the growth behavior of neurons inside a 3D extracellular matrix. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.