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BMEBT Master of Science Thesis Defense by Dylan T. Bryda

When: Monday, August 30, 2021
11:30 AM - 1:30 PM
Where: Online
Description: BMEBT Master of Science Thesis Defense by Dylan T. Bryda

Date: Monday, August 30, 2021

Time: 11:30am

Zoom Conference Link:

Meeting ID: 964 6104 9439

Passcode: 908643

Topic: Electrical Stimulation of Neural Progenitor Cells on a Scaffold of Peptide-Based Nanotubes


The influence of electrical stimulation on neural cell activity is an area of research which has garnered a lot of interest in the past decade. Non-invasive electrical stimulation could potentially enhance neural cell proliferation, and neuronal differentiation. Additionally, the ability to stimulate individual neurons may have a potential impact on the development of neural networks, and enhanced motor rehabilitation. Lastly, interfacing cells with biocompatible materials with electrical properties could be harnessed to introduce potential gradients across the cell membrane for neurological activation and repairs. In this project, we are studying the influence of voltage stimulation on human neural progenitor cells in vitro using a high-density array of peptide nanotubes deposited via vapor deposition. The peptide-based building blocks self-assemble to form highly organized nanoscale structures with key functional properties such as biocompatibility, high aspect ratios, semi-conductivity, and stiffness to be used as cell-scaffolding in this study. Prior studies have used carbon nanotubes scaffolds for the electrical stimulation, but their cytotoxicity makes their use in many biological systems undesirable. Peptide nanotubes are biocompatible and can be self-assembled using simple chemical techniques. Plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) was used to produce a uniform array of vertically oriented nanotubes. The dipeptides that were used to create this scaffold are dityrosine and tryptophan-tyrosine. To study the influence of voltage stimulation on cell growth, we are using human neural progenitor cells (NPCs). This electrical stimulation of the cells via the peptide nanotubes can lead to the release of catecholamines including epinephrine, dopamine and norepinephrine into the extra-cellular space which will be monitored throughout the lifecycle of the cells. We will additionally investigate the role of an applied electric field on the components of the cell membrane, the creation of potentially cytotoxic events such as the formation of pores, and the interaction between the cell membrane and the peptide nanotubes to ensure the safety of our methods.

ADVISOR(S): Dr. Milana Vasudev, Department of Bioengineering (, 508.999.9284)

COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Dr. Tracie Ferreira, Department of Bioengineering

Dr. Steven Zanganeh, Department of Bioengineering

NOTE: All BMEBT Graduate Students are ENCOURAGED to attend.
Contact: > See Description for contact information
Topical Areas: Faculty, SMAST, Students, Students, Graduate, Students, Undergraduate, Bioengineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering, Computer and Information Science, Co-op Program, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Physics