Petit Institute researcher contributing to ambitious BRAIN Initiative
Engineering Professor Hang Lu holds up a chip used to immobilize C. elegans roundworms for photographing by a microscope optic connected to a computer. The chip then sorts the worms into one of two channels for either mutants or non-mutants, a status an algorythm determines based on subtle phenotypical differences it recognizes in the microscope photo. Credit: Georgia Tech / Rob Felt
Hang Lu, researcher in the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience and professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is co-principal investigator of a project that won an NSF Next Generation Networks Neuroscience (NeuroNex) award, designed to aid the research community as it pursues one of its greatest challenges: understanding the brain.
Lu’s project, “Live imaging of the C. elegans connectome,” with Oliver Hobert of Columbia University, entails the development and dissemination of tools that empower the C.elegans neuroscience community to study the connectome of this nematode, which was the first multicellular organism to have its whole genome sequenced.
NSF’s NeuroNex awards bring together researchers across disciplines with new technologies and approaches, with the aim of yielding novel ways to tackle the mysteries of the brain.
“Through the development of advanced instrumentation to observe and model the brain, we're closer to our goal of building a more complete knowledge base about how neural activity produces behavior,” said Jim Olds, NSF assistant director for Biological Sciences.
“NeuroNex seeks to take that progress forward, by creating an ecosystem of new tools, resources, and theories,” Olds added. “Most importantly, NeuroNex aims to ensure their broad dissemination to the neuroscience community. With these awards, NSF is building a foundation for the next generation of research into the brain.”
Lu and Hobert, whose project is one of 17 to receive a NeuroNex award, have been awarded $739,277 for three years, starting September 1.
NeuroNex is part of NSF’s Understanding the Brain program, which is the avenue through which the foundation participates in the national Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative, an ambitious alliance formed by the Obama Administration, bringing together federal agencies and other partners to enhance our understanding of the brain.