The central nervous system (CNS), composed of the brain and the spinal cord, is the most complex system in the human body. Neurotechnology capable of detecting the faults in the CNS and restoring normal functions must be able to interface with the nervous tissue bi-directionally, at high spatiotemporal resolutions, and over extended periods. In this talk, Luan will discuss her group’s efforts developing ultraflexible electrodes to meet these needs and their applications on neurological disorder modeling. These efforts include: 1) development of the NanoElectronic Threads (NETs), currently the thinnest, most flexible intracortical electrode, for scar-free tissue integration and long-lasting intracortical recording of individual neurons in the brain; 2) further development of NETs for high-resolution intracortical microstimulation that robustly elicits behavioral reports; 3) integration of functional optical imaging with intracortical recordings to resolve and track hemodynamic and neural activities longitudinally in ischemic brains; and 4) optimization of NETs to enable high-quality, single-unit recording in the spinal cord during animal movements and over long terms. These neurotechnology advances enable new opportunities for understanding and potentially treating a broad spectrum of CNS disorders and injuries.
Dr. Luan received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Science and Technology of China, doctoral degree at Stanford University, and performed her postdoctoral research at Harvard University, all in the physics department. She moved to UT Austin in the fall of 2014 and made the transition from physics to neural engineering, where she started as a research scientist in the physics department, then worked as a research assistant professor in the biomedical engineering department. She joined Rice University in fall 2019 as an assistant professor in electrical engineering, bioengineering and a core faculty member of the Rice Neuroengineering Initiative. She is the recipient of the NIH Mentored Quantitative Research Development Award and an American Heart Association Scientist Development Award.