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Jan Kubanek

Title: Assistant Professor
College: Engineering
School / Department: Bioengineering
Mentoring Philosophy:
Targeted Noninvasive Treatments of the Nervous System
Mental and neurological disorders are the world's leading cause of disability. Systemic treatments with drugs are often ineffective and can have significant side effects such as being highly addictive. Our lab develops minimally invasive methods to diagnose and treat brain disorders in a targeted manner, at their neural source.

Ongoing work

Remote control of neuronal activity

The ability to control cellular excitability remotely has many implications for basic science and clinical treatments. One form of energy, sonic waves of high frequency (ultrasound), is particularly well suited for this purpose as it can be focused into confined targets deep in biological tissues. We investigate the biophysical interactions of ultrasound with tissues. We assess the efficacy and safety of the interactions in animal and human models.

Remotely-controlled drug release at a specific target

The ability to deliver a drug selectively at a specific location within the body would revolutionize medicine. Building on the pioneering approach of Natalya Rapoport (University of Utah), we use ultrasound to release drugs from specifically designed nanoparticle carriers. We optimize the efficacy and safety of the approach in large animals.

This work will enable us to move beyond prescribing systemic drugs by specifically modulating the aberrant neural circuit in a given individual. At the basic science level, the ability to modulate (and in particular, suppress) neural circuits noninvasively and thereby systematically will lead to new, causal studies of how individual brain circuits are involved in specific behaviors in humans.

As a Principal Investigator, I will engage the student in the following activities:

  1. Guide the student in performing the experiments while helping her/him to see the big picture.
  2. Show the student how to analyze the signals recorded from the brains, and allow her/him to write her/his own scripts that improve our current simple analyses.
  3. Allow the student to present results and receive feedback in our weekly lab meetings.
  4. Regularly talk with the student about her/his teaching/mentoring experience and how it can be made even more effective.
  5. Regularly discuss with the student her/his future plans and potentially serve as her/his senior thesis mentor if the student agrees so.