The 2017 Presidential Interdisciplinary Research Seed (PIRS) grant has been awarded to Iowa State University Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Long Que and Genetics/Development and Cell Biology Professor Donald Sakaguchi for their research in mimicking 3D brain models. Out of 21 proposals, Que and Sakaguchi’s project, Prototyping of an Automated Microsystems for In Vivo-Mimicking 3D Brain Models, was chosen and will be funded in the first year at $26,525.
“This is a grant that we plan to use to develop a microchip, to fabricate mini brains,” Ques said. “Of course, we try to make it as close as possible to mimic the real brain but this is just a start. We want to eventually use this research and use this kind of chip, rather than an animal, to do research on the brain. This can save a lot of money and can improve the efficiency.”
This is just one of the brain-related projects Que is currently working on. The other two deal with researching single neurons under magnetic stimulation, funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, trying to understand if the magnetic field can be used to treat brain-related disease and developing a diagnostic chip to detect biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease.
Que received his bachelor degree in physics from Peking University, China, while going on to receive his master’s and doctorate in electrical engineering from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before coming to Iowa State, Que was a John Cordaro/Entergy Endowed Associate Professor at Louisiana Tech.
Que is happy and grateful to receive this money and hopes it will help them achieve some initial results that will help them apply for larger grants.
“I am very interested in this type of research because many researchers are using different methods to provide a platform to treat brain-related diseases, so hopefully we can contribute something,” Que said.