CNS Spring Seminar Series: Soft and Flexible Bioelectronics for Stem Cell Engineering and Brain-machine InterfacesCNS Spring Seminar Series:

Prof. Jia Liu, Harvard University

February 23, 2024 | 12pm – 1pm | LISE 303

Abstract: High spatiotemporal resolution mapping of cellular electrophysiological activity is critical for various fields, including neuroscience, brain-machine interfaces, and cell therapy. Ultimately, our goal is to simultaneously record activities from millions, or even billions, of cells at single-cell resolution, with millisecond temporal resolution and cell-type specificity, across three-dimensional (3D) tissues throughout development, learning, and aging. In this talk, I will first introduce flexible and soft bioelectronics with tissue-like properties that can track electrical activity from the same neurons in the brains of behaving animals over their entire adult life. Specifically, I will discuss the fundamental challenges in the electrochemical stability of soft electronic materials used in bioelectronics and present our strategies to overcome these limitations, thereby enabling a scalable platform for large-scale brain mapping. Then, I will discuss the creation of “cyborg organisms”, by embedding stretchable mesh-like electrode arrays in 2D sheets of stem/progenitor cells and reconfiguring them through 2D-to-3D organogenesis, enabling continuous 3D electrophysiology during the development of human stem cell-derived organoids and animal embryos. Further, I will highlight our ongoing efforts that merge 3D single-cell spatial transcriptomics, machine learning, and electrical recording, enabling cell-type-specific electrical activity mapping. Lastly, I will outline our vision for the integration of soft and flexible electronics with spatial transcriptomics and artificial intelligence, aimed at creating a comprehensive cellular functional atlas. This atlas is expected to revolutionize stem cell research by unraveling the mechanisms of stem cells maturation and specialization. Furthermore, it has the potential to transform brain-machine interfaces by facilitating a seamless integration of nature and machine intelligence through the development of a functional brain cell atlas.

About Speaker: Professor Liu received his PhD in Chemistry from Harvard University in 2014, after which he completed postdoctoral research at Stanford University from 2015-2018. He joined the faculty at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences as an Assistant Professor in 2019. At Harvard University, Professor Liu’s lab focuses on the development of soft bioelectronics, cyborg engineering, genetic/genomic engineering, and computational tools for addressing questions in brain-machine interfaces, neuroscience, cardiac diseases, and developmental disorders. He has received numerous awards for his independent career such as the 2022 Inventors Under 35 (Global List) by MIT Technology Review, the 2022 Young Investigator Program (YIP) Award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), and the 2021 NIH/NIDDK Catalyst Award from the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award Program. He is also the cofounder and scientific advisor of Axoft, Inc., a brain-machine interface company.

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