Australian National University
Research Field: Biomedical Engineering
Damage to the brain due to an accident, stroke, tumour, infection, or neurodegenerative diseases results in cognitive, physical and emotional disabilities, which affect millions of people in Australia and the world. Brain damage disrupts the neural circuit connections in the brain. However, unlike other cells in the body, which can regenerate and function after injury, neurons need to establish new connections to regain their circuit function.
Unfortunately, fundamental questions relating to how brain circuits form, regenerate and function remain unanswered. We are hence limited in creating appropriate solutions to guide neural circuits formation and currently there are no drugs available to repair brain damage.
In her research, Dr Gautam has proposed an innovative solution to this challenge. Using latest techniques in nanotechnology, she aims to create scaffolds that closely mimic the structure of the brain at the nano-scale (~1/1000th of the thickness of a human hair). She will then study how neurons grow, form connections and consequently re-attain their physiological circuit functions. These scaffolds will finally aid in designing implants for engineering the formation of neural circuits and hence provide a physiological way to guide the neurons to form the appropriate circuit connections after an injury or damage.