We seek to answer how animal behavior is set up by the collective behaviors of individual cells, over the entire course of brain and spinal cord development. We want to understand how gene activity can instruct developing neurons to move around, change shape, and connect to other cells. To do this, we study the simple larval nervous system of our closest invertebrate relatives, the tunicates. Tunicates, like us, belong to the Chordate phylum, but have very simple embryos and compact genomes. The laboratory model tunicate Ciona has only 177 neurons and is the only chordate with a fully mapped "connectome". We take advantage of this simplicity to understand molecular mechanisms that may underlie human neurodevelopment.
Electron- and Photon-stimulated Interface and Surface Processes. Dr. Orlando's group utilizes state-of-the-art ultra-high vacuum (UHV) surface science systems equipped with UV-laser sources and low-energy electron beams to stimulate reactions (such as the production of hydrogen) on a variety of substrates and interfaces. Sensitive laser detection schemes (resonance-enhanced multiphoton ionization) are used to probe the reaction dynamics. Approaches based on quantum mechanical interference to control desorption and patterning of surfaces at the nano- and meso-scale are also being developed.
Environmental Chemistry and Planetary Surface Science. Water is ubiquitous in terrestrial and planetary atmospheres and environments. Dr. Orlando's group studies "wet" interfaces using nanoscale films of ice grown in UHV. Radical and ion-molecule reactions are then initiated using electron- and photon-beam sources. These experiments are relevant to understanding the photochemistry of stratospheric cloud particles and magnetospheric processing of icy satellite surfaces in the Jovian system.
Biophysical Chemistry. The mechanisms of DNA damage and repair have been studied extensively, though the role intrinsic waters of hydration play in initiating damage have not been elucidated. Dr. Orlando's group will carry out electron- and photon-irradiation studies of DNA:water interfaces to examine the importance of direct vs. indirect damage.
Robots never know exactly where they are, what they see, or what they're doing. They live in dynamic environments, and must coexist with other, sometimes adversarial agents. Robots are nonlinear systems that can be underactuated, redundant, or constrained, giving rise to complicated problems in automatic control. Many of even the most fundamental computational problems in robotics are provably hard.
Over the years, these are the issues that have driven my group's research in robotics. Topics of our research include visual servo control, planning with uncertainty, pursuit-evasion games, as well as mainstream problems from path planning and computer vision.
A majority of antibiotics and drugs that we use in the clinic are derived or inspired from small organic molecules called Natural Products that are produced by living organisms such as bacteria and plants. Natural Products are at the forefront of fighting the global epidemic of antibiotic resistant pathogens, and keeping the inventory of clinically applicable pharmaceuticals stocked up. Some Natural Products are also potent human toxins and pollutants, and we need to understand how these toxins are produced to minimize our and the environmental exposure to them.
We as biochemists ask some simple questions- how and why are Natural Products produced in Nature, what we can learn from Natural Product biosynthetic processes, and how we can exploit Nature's synthetic capabilities for interesting applications?
Broadly, we are interested in questions involving (meta)genomics, biochemistry, structural and mechanistic enzymology, mass spectrometry, analytical chemistry, and how natural product chemistry dictates biology.
Biomechanics of brain injury, pediatric head injury, soft tissue mechanics, ventilator-induced lung injury, lung mechanics, pathways of cellular mechanotransduction, and tissue injury thresholds.
My research in head injury will continue to focus on how and why head injuries occur in adults and children and to improve detection and treatment strategies. At Georgia Tech, I will be continuing that research, looking at innovative biomarkers and new devices to detect mild traumatic brain injuries. At Emory, my research will be focused on animal models for diffuse as well as focal brain injuries—incorporating developments at Georgia Tech into our preclinical model. I also look forward to close collaborations with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University faculty to improve the outcomes after traumatic brain injuries.
The MNM Biotech Lab uses engineering expertise to assist life scientists in the study, diagnosis, and treatment of human disease. By developing better models of the body, we help advance drug discovery, increase understanding of the mechanisms of disease, and develop clinical treatments. Areas of study include:
Aqueous Two-Phase Systems
Microfluidic Logic Circuits
Interrogation and Control of Cell Signaling Mechanisms
Assisted Reproductive Technology
3D Cell Culture
Microenvironment Engineering and Materials Modifications
Size-adjustable nanochannels and DNA linearization/stretching
The Dreaden Lab uses molecular engineering to impart augmented, amplified, or non-natural function to tumor therapies and immunotherapies. The overall goal of our research is to engineer molecular and nanoscale tools that can (i) improve our understanding of fundamental tumor biology and (ii) simultaneously serve as cancer therapies that are more tissue-exclusive and patient-personalized. The lab currently focuses on three main application areas: optically-triggered immunotherapies, combination therapies for pediatric cancers, and nanoscale cancer vaccines. Our work aims to translate these technologies into the clinic and beyond.
Molecular Engineering, Tumor Immunity, Nanotechnology, Pediatric Cancer
Dr. Lindsey is interested in developing new imaging technologies for understanding biological processes and for clinical use.
In the Ultrasonic Imaging and Instrumentation lab, we develop transducers, contrast agents, and systems for ultrasound imaging and image-guidance of therapy and drug delivery. Our aim is to develop quantitative, functional imaging techniques to better understand the physiological processes underlying diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases and tumor progression.
Dr. Varenberg is engaged with two major research domains:
• Exploration of the tribological solutions evolved in the biological world. This multinational interdisciplinary research, which involves joint work with biologists, seeks to understand and mimic the behavior of interacting surfaces in the world of animals and plants, while uncovering the biological side of adhesion, friction, lubrication and wear. Research thus far has led to development of two new types of bio-inspired surfaces, which have a strong potential to be imbedded in a variety of products in daily and industrial use.
• Development of green aspects of classical tribology. This multidisciplinary research sets problems at the interface between physics, chemistry, material science and mechanics, and aims at increasing efficiency, integrity and cleanliness of modern surface technologies. Research thus far has resulted in laying a cornerstone of a new family of mechano-chemical surface treatments, which are expected to bring eco-innovation to friction surfaces in transportation, industrial and power-generation sectors.