Meet Our Researchers
Oliver Jonas develops microdevices that diagnose, probe, and treat live tissues within their native environment.
Typically the microdevice—which is smaller than a rice grain—is implanted via biopsy needle into a tumor, where it provides small doses of 30 different chemotherapies and measures the patient’s response to each. The device remains implanted for 24 hours. Then it’s retrieved with the surrounding tissue, which researchers analyze to learn if the therapies were effective. BroadIgnite will support Oliver’s exploration of whether this technique can also work in the human brain, gauging the effectiveness of drugs for neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases.
By improving our molecular-based understanding of disease, genomic research can help doctors tailor approaches to individual patients. But brain diseases present an especially thorny challenge. Brain tissue, consisting of a wide variety of cell types, is exceptionally difficult to study, in particular when it comes to how cells malfunction in neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases. Given these complexities, how can a doctor best determine if an individual’s treatment is on point?
To test whether our microdevices can work in the human brain, our lab will first design and build prototypes of the brain-specific devices; next, we will formulate the drugs so that the microdevices can release the proper dosages; then, we will test the devices in animals. We also hope to improve how the microdevices gauge the efficacy of the drugs in real time.