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Date: Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Time: 11:00 am
Speaker: Anne Milasincic Andrews, UCLA
Title: Chemical Neurotransmission and Functional Nanomaterials
Location: 67-3111 Chemla Room


Numerous small molecules including amino acids, amino acid derivatives, and peptides have been identified as chemical neurotransmitters. Neuronal cells using different neurotransmitters have spatially distinct patterns that translate into highly heterogeneous chemistries in brain extracellular microenvironments. Accordingly, measurements of neurotransmitters with high spatial, temporal, and chemical resolution will prove fundamental to understanding basic neural information processing.

Identifying artificial neurotransmitter receptors from synthesized combinatorial libraries is key to advancing chemical selectivity for neurotransmitter sensing in vivo. We have developed a number of avenues for controlled placement and ligation of small molecules on nanoengineered substrates that enable selection of molecular recognition elements. We discovered methods of patterning small-molecule substrates with features as small as tens of nanometers and patterns over millimeters. As such, we have identified a set of design rules that achieve high degrees of specific and selective biomolecule recognition of immobilized small molecules. Recent advances include identification of surface-patterned neurotransmitters by nucleic acid aptamers, highly optimized substrate-mediated DNA hybridization, and field-effect transistor electronic neurotransmitter sensing. Small-molecule-functionalized nanomaterials are generalizable for a wide range of biosensing and bioengineering applications.