Partner P3: Tel Aviv University (TAU)
TAU is the largest research university in Israel, with over 30,000 students and 7000 graduate students. TAU is funded both by the government and private institutions and research funds. It has recently been announced that TAU is ranked 11th in the world for in citations per faculty in 2010, alongside the Ivy League universities in the U.S. and the leading universities in Europe. TAU participates in BRAIN-BOW with the School of Physics and Astronomy, the School of Electrical Engineering and the Department of Neurobiology. The involved group has proven expertise in developing new strategies for Neuro-Electronic interfacing, experimental study of neuronal network dynamics, Complex Network Theory and Nonlinear Data Analysis. An on-going common effort and collaboration between the School of Physics and Astronomy, the Department of Neurobiology and the School of Electrical Engineering is aimed at the development of a new generation of neuro-chips as the basis for novel implantable prostheses for brain repair and for robotics.
Role of TAU in the project
TAU will be responsible and involved in two scientific WPs, namely WP1 (in cooperation with UNIGE) and WP3 (in cooperation with IIT and UNIGE). The work of TAU aim to (1) grow interconnected neuronal assemblies with predefined engineered patterns (2) characterize with single cell resolution the dynamics and functional organization of isolated neuronal circuits by combining calcium imaging, optogentics and immunohistochemical marking (3) describe how a neuronal circuit integrate, process and transmit the information (i.e. electrical activity) parallely arriving from distinct neuronal circuits. All these data and information will allow to develop, simulate and implement a neuronal circuit on a sw/hw component to achieve the final aim of this project, i.e. the closed-loop experiments (WP6).
Dr Paolo Bonifazi (Principal Investigator) received the master degree in Physics (110/110 summa cum laude) in 2001, and the PhD degree (cum laude) in Neuroscience at the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste (Italy) on December 15th, 2005. His research experience started as trainee in the group of Prof. Fromherz in department of Neurophysics at Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry (Martinsried, Germany) where he developed a direct electrical communication between two disconnected nerve cells via a semiconductor chip. Since his PhD, he has started studying dynamics, learning and information processing in neuronal circuits combining experimental studies and advanced data analysis. In his postdoctoral experiences he has worked respectively in the lab of Dr Hugh P.C. Robinson at the University of Cambridge (UK) and in the lab of Dr Cossart at INMED (Marseille, France) where he was supported by Intra-European Fellowships (IEF) within the Seventh Framework Program. He contributed with 7 papers published in peer-reviewed International Journals.
Prof. Eshel Ben Jacob (School of Physics and Astronomy), Prof. Ari Barzilai (Department of Neurobiology) and Prof. Yael Hanein (School of Electrical Engineering) have proofed established ongoing collaborations in studying neuronal cultures and in growing engineered neuronal networks with predefined geometries using polymers and carbon nanotubes.
Dr. Miri Goldin will join the Italy-Israel Initiative on Integrative Network Neuroscience in October 2011 as post-doc. She has long proofed experience in electrophysiology and calcium imaging for the study of neuronal systems from the synaptic to the network level. She has worked in close collaboration with Dr. Bonifazi on fast calcium imaging showing for the first time the existence and the impact of hub neurons in orchestrating network dynamics.
Mark Shein is a PhD student (under the supervision of Prof. Hanein and Prof. Ben Jacob) at the end of his studies and he pioneered the development of engineered neuronal networks using polymers and carbon nanotubes.