News & Events


Professor Siapas Receives NIH Pioneer Award


Thanos Siapas, Professor of Computation and Neural Systems, has received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Pioneer Award.  He plans to use the award to develop neural probes for large-scale recordings of brain activity. "Brain functions such as perception, learning, and memory arise from the coordinated activation of billions of neurons distributed throughout the brain," Siapas says. "While we know a lot about the properties of individual neurons, much less is known about how assemblies of neurons interact to perform computations. Our goal is to develop large-scale, multielectrode arrays that will enable the monitoring of many neurons simultaneously across different brain areas. We hope that such arrays will expose new fundamental insights into brain activity, and will find application in the study of animal models of brain disorders." [Caltech Press Release]

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Cell-phone Medical Devices


Mani Chandy, Simon Ramo Professor and Professor of Computer Science; Deputy Chair for Education, and Julian J. Bunn, Principal Computational Scientist at CACR, are working with a group of Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) in CMS, EE, and MCE to building a collection of medical devices that can be connected to a cell phone. "We want to exploit cell-phone technology and the Internet to provide inexpensive health-care tests for the poor in remote rural villages," says Chandy. [Caltech Feature]

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First Artificial Neural Network Created Out of DNA


Lulu Qian, Senior Postdoctoral Scholar in Bioengineering; Erik Winfree, Professor of Computer Science, Computation and Neural Systems, and Bioengineering; and Jehoshua (Shuki) Bruck, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Computation and Neural Systems and Electrical Engineering, are the first to have made an artificial neural network out of DNA, creating a circuit of interacting molecules that can recall memories based on incomplete patterns, just as a brain can. [Caltech Press Release]

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Solar-Powered Sanitation System


Michael R Hoffmann, James Irvine Professor of Environmental Science, has received a $400,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build a solar-powered portable toilet that could help solve a major health problem in developing countries. [Caltech Press Release]

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Largest Biochemical Circuit Built Out of Small Synthetic DNA Molecules


Lulu Qian, Senior Postdoctoral Scholar in Bioengineering, and colleagues including Erik Winfree, Professor of Computer Science, Computation and Neural Systems, and Bioengineering, have built the most complex biochemical circuit ever created from scratch made with DNA-based devices in a test tube that are analogous to the electronic transistors on a computer chip."We're trying to borrow the ideas that have had huge success in the electronic world, such as abstract representations of computing operations, programming languages, and compilers, and apply them to the biomolecular world," says Dr. Qian. [Caltech Press Release]

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Stimulating Electrode Array Assists Paraplegic Man to Stand and Move Legs Voluntarily


Joel W. Burdick, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, and colleagues including Yu-Chong Tai, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, have used a stimulating electrode array to assist a paralyzed man to stand, step on a treadmill with assistance, and, over time, to regain voluntary movements of his limbs. Using a combination of experimentation, computational models of the array and spinal cord, and machine-learning algorithms, Professor Burdick and his colleagues are now trying to optimize the stimulation pattern to achieve the best effects, and to improve the design of the electrode array. Further advances in the technology should lead to better control of the stepping and standing processes. [Caltech Press Release]

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Guoan Zheng Wins $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Caltech Student Prize


Guoan Zheng, a graduate student in Electrical Engineering working with Professor Changhuei Yang, is the winner of this year's $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Caltech Student Prize.  He was awarded the prize for his innovative development of an on-chip, inexpensive microscopy imaging technology with many potential applications, including improved diagnostics for malaria and other blood-borne diseases in the developing world. [Press Coverage]

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Weak Electrical Fields in the Brain Help Neurons Fire Together


Costas Anastassiou, a postdoctoral scholar working with Professor Christof Koch, and colleagues have found that coordinated behavior occurs in the brain whether or not neurons are actually connected via synapses.  To tease out the effects, Anastassiou and his colleagues, focused on strong but slowly oscillating fields, called local field potentials (LFP), that arise from neural circuits composed of just a few rat brain cells.  Measuring those fields and their effects required positioning a cluster of tiny electrodes within a volume equivalent to that of a single cell body—and at distances of less than 50 millionths of a meter from one another. [Caltech Press Release]

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Professor Arnold Wins Draper Prize


Frances Arnold, Dick and Barbara Dickinson Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry, ´╗┐is a co-recipient of the Charles Stark Draper Prize by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).  Professor Arnold has recieved the Draper Prize, which is the highest honor in the engineering profession, for a method called directed evolution, used worldwide to guide the creation of certain properties in proteins and cells, allowing the engineering of novel enzymes and biocatalytic processes for pharmaceutical and chemical products. [Caltech Press Release]

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Professor Yang Receives 2010 NIH Director's New Innovator Award


Changhuei Yang, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering, is a 2010 NIH Director's New Innovator Award recipient. The award helps new investigators take exceptional and innovative research ideas to the next level. Professor Yang and his research team will be using the grant associated with the award to investigate a new research direction in biophotonics—the study of the interaction of time-reversed light with biological structures. [Caltech Press Release]

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