[Illinois] CMMB IGERT & M-CNTC Annual Symposium: A Microfluidics Approach to Probing Neuronal Filopodia

By Anika Jain

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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In her research Anika exploits the unique properties of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) microfluidic devices to study early neuronal development. Her group recently demonstrated the efficacy of solvent-extraction as a PDMS-treatment protocol, enabling low-density cultures of primary hippocampal neurons. They have used flow manipulations in closed-channel microdevices to generate stable and instructive gradients of substrate bound cues, such as laminin and poly-L-lysine (PLL),to allow precise control over neuron development an network formation. Anika discusses the possibility of using this technology to compartmentalized neuronal dendrites and selectively stimulate only certain regions of the cell.


Anika Jain is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Before joining U of I, She pursued her undergraduate studies at Panjab University, India, completing a B.E. in Biotechnology in 2007. She is currently working with Prof. Martha Gillette towards furthering understanding of the processes that define and modulate the connectivity of neurons in the mammalian brain. She is specifically interested in examining the factors influencing the development of dendritic filopodia, which are dynamic, thread-like protrusions of the cell membrane of neuronal dendrites, using microfluidic culture systems. When not peering through the microscope at neurons, She can be found digging deeper into matter, following recent developments in the field of particle physics. Other interests outside the lab include astronomy, reading, trekking and bungee jumping.

From Anika Jain's trainee profile

Sponsored by

Midwest Cancer Nanotechnology Traning Center (M-CNTC) Training the next generation of leaders who will define the new frontiers and applications of nanotechnology in cancer research It is known that more than 1.5 million Americans were diagnosed with cancer during 2010, and half a million have died (Cancer Statistics 2010, ACS). In spite of considerable effort, there has been limited success in reducing per capita deaths from cancer since 1950. This calls for a paradigm shift in the understanding, detection, and intervention of the evolution of cancer from a single cell to tumor scale.

In response to this challenge the M-CNTC has assembled a preeminent interdisciplinary team of researchers and educators across the University of Illinois and clinical collaborators in the Midwest to train the next generation of engineers, physical scientists, and biologists to address the challenge of understanding, managing, diagnosing, and treating cancer using the most recent advancements in nanotechnology.

Cellular and Molecular Mechanics and Bionanotechnology (CMMB-IGERT) Training the next generation of leaders who will define the new frontiers of cellular and molecular mechanics and bionanotechnology Critical experiments during the last decade show a fundamental link between the micro- and macro-mechanical environment (i.e., intracellular forces, local shear, gravitational force) and a variety of cell functionalities, their lineage, and phenotype. These findings pose the grand challenge: what is the underlying molecular mechanism that cells employ to transduce mechanical signals to biochemical pathways?

In response to this challenge the CMMB IGERT launched an interdisciplinary research effort with national and international collaborators.

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Anika Jain (2013), "[Illinois] CMMB IGERT & M-CNTC Annual Symposium: A Microfluidics Approach to Probing Neuronal Filopodia," http://nanohub.org/resources/14051.

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Charlie Newman, NanoBio Node

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign