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When Nano Meets Neuro: Engineering High-Resolution Neuroelectronics From Nanoscale Soft Conductors
Start Date: 2/3/2022Start Time: 5:00 PM
End Date: 2/3/2022End Time: 6:30 PM
Event Description
BIOMED Special Topics: Neuroengineering Seminar Series

When Nano Meets Neuro: Engineering High-Resolution Neuroelectronics From Nanoscale Soft Conductors

Flavia Vitale, PhD
Assistant Professor
Center for Neuroengineering and Therapeutics
Departments of Neurology, Bioengineering,
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
University of Pennsylvania

Neuroelectronic technologies are enabling paradigm-shifting approaches to treating neurological disorders, restoring and repairing lost functions, and modulating neural circuitry to control mood and behavior. Conventional neuroelectronic interfaces rely on metals and silicon, which are expensive to source and process, and are intrinsically inadequate to address the mechanical, chemical, and electrical properties of neural tissues. Thus, the realization and successful clinical translation of safe, biocompatible, and long-term stable neuroelectronic interfaces require significant innovations in materials and fabrication strategies.

In this talk, I will first briefly review the main classes of neurotechnologies for treating neurological disorders as well as brain-computer interfaces for restoring lost motor and sensory functions. Then, I will present ongoing work in the Vitale Lab on the development of novel neural interfaces enables by nanomaterials. Specifically, I will discuss how nanoscale soft conductors like MXenes can be engineered into high-resolution, minimally invasive neuroelectronic interfaces designed to seamlessly map and control the activity of neural circuits at multiple scales. Then, I will present ad hoc, scalable, rapid manufacturing processes designed to translate the exceptional material properties at the molecular scale into high-resolution, low impedance neuroelectronic interfaces that are also compatible with clinical neuroimaging modalities, such a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT).  Finally, to illustrate the potential of these novel neuroelectronic interfaces based on MXenes, I will present different examples of applications in both implantable and wearable devices.

Flavia Vitale, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Center for Neuroengineering and Therapeutics at the University of Pennsylvania, and in the Departments of Neurology, Bioengineering, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. She is also a core faculty member of the Brain Science, Translation, Innovation, and Modulation Center at Penn and of the Center of Neurotrauma, Neurodegeneration & Restoration at the Philadelphia VA. Dr. Vitale earned her BS and MS in Biomedical Engineering at the Università Campus Biomedico di Roma in 2008, and in 2012 she received her PhD in Chemical Engineering at the Università di Roma “La Sapienza”. She completed a postdoctoral training in Chemical Engineering at Rice University, a Neuroengineering training at Penn, and in 2018 she joined the Penn faculty.  

Dr. Vitale’s research interests are in the area of advanced neuroelectronic interfaces for studying, diagnosing and treating disorders of the nervous and neuromuscular systems. Her lab integrates neuroengineering, materials science, electrical engineering, and neuroscience approaches to develop novel neuroelectronic interface technologies and apply them to both basic science and fundamental studies of neural functions and disease. The ultimate goal of the Vitale Lab is to translate these innovative technologies and scientific knowledge to patient care and improve outcomes.

Dr. Vitale has published more than 36 peer-reviewed journal articles, 2 book chapters, 36 conference abstracts, and is a co-inventor on six (6) US and international patent applications.

In recognition of her research achievements, Dr. Vitale has received a number of awards, including the Taking Flight Award from Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy, the McCabe Fellow and Linda Pechenik Investigator Awards from the University of Pennsylvania, the iCANX Young Scientist Award, and the K12 Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Engineering Career Development Award from the NIH.
Contact Information:
Name: Catherine von Reyn
Flavia Vitale
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