Advisory Board

Professor Michele Giugliano

The ScienceDaily article Faulty Brain Wiring May Be Bypassed With Carbon Nanotubes said

Research done by scientists in Italy and Switzerland has shown that carbon nanotubes may be the ideal “smart” brain material. Their results, published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, are a promising step forward in the search to find ways to “bypass” faulty brain wiring.
 
The research shows that carbon nanotubes, which, like neurons, are highly electrically conductive, form extremely tight contacts with neuronal cell membranes. Unlike the metal electrodes that are currently used in research and clinical applications, the nanotubes can create shortcuts between the distal and proximal compartments of the neuron, resulting in enhanced neuronal excitability.
 
The study was conducted in the Laboratory of Neural Microcircuitry at EPFL in Switzerland and led by Michel Giugliano (now an assistant professor at the University of Antwerp) and University of Trieste professor Laura Ballerini. “This result is extremely relevant for the emerging field of neuro-engineering and neuroprosthetics,” explains Giugliano, who hypothesizes that the nanotubes could be used as a new building block of novel “electrical bypass” systems for treating traumatic injury of the central nervous system.

Michele Giugliano, Ph.D. is presently tenure-track professor at the Department of Biomedical Sciences of the University of Antwerp (Belgium) and visiting scientist at the Brain Mind Institute of the EPFL, the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland).
 
He is originally from Italy, where he was trained as an Electronic Engineer. He earned his 5 years laurea-degree cum laude from the University of Genova in 1997. During the following years, he developed a strong interest in Computational Neuroscience and in 2001 he was awarded by the Politecnico di Milano (Italy) with a Ph.D. in Bioengineering.
 
In the same year, Michele received a long-term fellowship from the Human Frontier Science Program Organization, to pursue experimental research on the nervous system, with emphasis on novel non-conventional experimental paradigms and techniques. He moved to the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Bern (Switzerland), as a member of the Department of Physiology. From 2005 to 2008, he has been Junior Group Leader at the Brain Mind Institute of the EPFL.
 
His research interests include in vitro electrophysiology, exploring network-level phenomena in neocortical brain slices and dissociated cell cultures. In particular, he explores the combination of non-conventional stimulating/recording tools and nanomaterials (e.g. multi-electrode substrate arrays — MEAs) with traditional patch-clamp recording techniques. These activities are driven and supported by computer-simulations and theoretical analysis tools, involving models of single-cells and networks of spiking neurons.
 
His research interests are related to understanding, repairing, replacing, enhancing, or exploiting the electrical properties of neural systems. With particular emphasis to the (bio)physics of the interface between living neural tissue and artificial constructs, his efforts are aimed at exploring experimentally the predictions of theoretical approaches, employing them to design novel experimental paradigms and to analyze and interpret experimental data. Recently, in collaboration with other researchers, he became interested in combining carbon nanotubes to neuronal networks, as a first step towards future generation neuroprosthetics.
 
Michele coauthored Carbon nanotubes might improve neuronal performance by favoring electrical shortcuts, The dynamical response properties of neocortical neurons to temporally modulated noisy inputs in vitro, Inferring connection proximity in networks of electrically coupled cells by subthreshold frequency response analysis, Discharge The Impact of Input Fluctuations on the Frequency-Current Relationships of Layer 5 Pyramidal Neurons in the Rat Medial Prefrontal Cortex, and Interfacing neurons with carbon nanotubes: electrical signal transfer and synaptic stimulation in cultured brain circuits.