Charles E. Kaufman Foundation

2014 New Investigator Grant

Tzahi Cohen-Karni, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

Investigation of pancreatic islet electrical properties by a high density nanodevices array


For centuries efforts have been invested in the exploration of the intricate way cells communicate. Basic research at the tissue level of the heart and brain electrical activity, for example, has led to the development of tools to treat various ailments, such as pacemaker and deep brain stimulation electrodes for the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias and Parkinson’s disease respectively. Currently, there is a critical need to develop new ways to explore how cells communicate at the cellular level with exquisite details. The hair sized pancreatic islet (approximately 100-millionth of a meter), is a prime example of such communication. This proposal aims to investigate for the first time the electrical activity of a pancreatic islet using a novel nanomaterial-based sensor array with exquisite resolution. Studying the mechanism of cell-cell communication and understanding the electrical signal propagation within pancreatic islet will reveal the underlying processes leading to glucose level maintenance. The developed nanomaterials-based measurement platform will set the ground for further investigations related to disease abnormalities and will shed light on electrical transduction processes in additional biological systems, such as neuronal and cardiomyocytes communications.

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