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Development of enabling technologies for optical imaging of biological systems

When Jan 25 2017 12:00 EST
Where Mellon Institute, Conference Room
Who Yongxin Zhao, Ph.D.

Synthetic Neurobiology Group, MIT Media lab

Abstract: Modern optical microscopy has greatly advanced our ability to study biological systems. However, in order to deepen our understanding of complex biological mechanisms, we require improved tools for probing the dynamics of cellular activities and mapping large-scale biological structure with improved optical resolution. My research is focused addressing this challenge by developing enabling technologies to unravel the fine details of structures and functions of the brain and other complex biological systems. In this seminar, I will present some of my efforts to engineer improved optogenetic reporters for neuronal activities and devise new forms of Expansion Microscopy. Specifically, I will describe the development of GECO Ca2+ reporters, including the first red-shifted Ca2+ reporter for deeper tissue Ca2+ imaging, and the development of the QuasAr membrane potential reporters for all-optical electrophysiology. In addition, I will introduce protein-retention expansion microscopy that enables large-scale super-resolution imaging of brain tissues using commercially available reagents. I have recently developed expansion pathology that will enable the routine use of nanoscale imaging in pathology and may result in improved diagnostics and insight into the basis of human disease. Finally, I will briefly discuss my research plan for developing novel tools for large-scale mapping of synaptic biomolecules and for functional imaging of neurotransmission and neuronal signaling.