Summary from first of three neuroscience engineering workshops

June 17, 2019

On June 10, the Purdue Institute for Integrative Neuroscience kicked off its Life Sciences-Engineering Workshop Series. The three-part program aims to create working groups that could identify major problems in neuroscience with interdisciplinary teams that incorporate both life sciences and engineering. Selected teams will receive funding from PIIN (with the potential for significant multi-year investments) as part of the institute’s key initiatives.

The first event drew more than 30 faculty members and research scientists as well as several staff members from Purdue Life Sciences. The program began with introductory remarks by Chris Rochet, the John and Donna Krenicki Director of the Purdue Institute for Integrative Neuroscience, followed by faculty presentations on several existing collaborations. Participants then divided into groups for breakout sessions to begin identifying potential topics for collaboration; you can read the resulting document below.  

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Videos available for review

If you were not able to attend the first installment, videos are available for review. Please contact us at with the word “video," and you will receive secure Box links to the following presentations:

  • “Multiplexed, Ultra-High Resolution 3D Imaging in Cell and Tissue Specimens for Neurosciences”: Fang Huang

  • “The NanoNeedle Net: Towards Multi-Site Intracellular Dendritic Recordings from the Surface of the Brain”: Krishna Jayant and Scott R. Pluta

  • “Quantum Materials for Life Sciences Research”: Shriram Ramanathan

Please join us for our second and third programs on June 24 and July 29.

Summary – Hearing-Loss Group

Some Potential Questions:

  • How to harmonize data from an Audiology Diagnostics Core and a Purdue Biobank to develop predictive models of individual hearing ability and rehabilitation benefits?

  • How to collect standard audiology diagnostics on a more regular basis through the use of mobile apps or web-based testing?

  • How to use evoked responses recorded from patients with cochlear implants (CIs) to evaluate efficacy of electrical stimulation for pitch and speech, without electrical CI artifacts?

  • How to image and quantify altered traveling-wave properties inside the cochlea of rodents with various forms of sensorineural hearing loss (e.g. in-vivo Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) approaches)?

  • How to efficiently compute performance and evoked-response predictions based on neural populations from existing single-neuron computational auditory models (e.g., develop parallel-processing approaches)?

Specific Collaborative Needs:

  • Non-invasive imaging of cochlear motion in animals

  • Efficient parallel processing

  • Electrical artifact removal from EEG recordings

  • Data science approaches to individualized medicine (audiology)

  • Mobile-app/web-based data collection

Summary - Addiction/Pain Group

Potential Questions:

  • How can we use technology (engineering tools, computational methods, sensing modalities, wearable devices etc.) in awake, behaving animals, including humans, to identify risk factors related to addiction at multiple scales? Can tools be developed to predict when an addict may require their next fix (either alcohol or substance abuse)?

  • Can we use computational or other methods to identify when substance use becomes a disorder?

  • How can we use technology and computational methods to identify the brain circuits related to reward processing and what kinds of impairments lead to addiction?

  • Can technology be used to improve addiction treatment? If we can predict the next fix, can interventions be developed?

  • How are pain and addiction related?

  • Can engineering tools and computational methods be used to identify when pain becomes acute, and to monitor the transition between acute and chronic pain?

Other Notes:

  • The table was generally interested in risk factors for addiction, treatment, reward processing, and how to identify the point at which consumption becomes problematic. Interest was both for individual animals and social organization of animals.

Summary - Neurodegeneration Group

Potential Questions:

  • Could we develop in vivo imaging technologies to understand changes in protein structures within the brain (e.g. monitor fibril formation of tau, aggregation status of beta-amyloid, etc.)?

  • How do changes in cerebral spinal fluid production as we age play a role in neurodegeneration?

  • How can we best incorporate genetic, proteomic, and environmental data to better predict neurodegenerative disease onset and possible outcomes?

Other Notes:

  • Three grand challenges for neurodegeneration were stated:

    1. We do not know the actual cause of most neurodegenerative disorders/diseases

    2. We have no way to diagnose neurodegeneration until it reaches its very latest stages

    3. There are no disease-modifying therapies for neurodegenerative disorders

  • The group felt that conclusively disproving a hypothesis related to mechanisms of neurodegeneration (e.g. the amyloid hypothesis) would be valuable


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