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Electrospinning of bioactive dex-PAA hydrogel fibers

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In this work, a novel method is developed for making nano- and micro- fibrous hydrogels capable of preventing the rejection of implanted materials. This is achieved by either (1) mimicking the native cellular environment, to exert fine control over the

In this work, a novel method is developed for making nano- and micro- fibrous hydrogels capable of preventing the rejection of implanted materials. This is achieved by either (1) mimicking the native cellular environment, to exert fine control over the cellular response or (2) acting as a protective barrier, to camouflage the foreign nature of a material and evade recognition by the immune system. Comprehensive characterization and in vitro studies described here provide a foundation for developing substrates for use in clinical applications. Hydrogel dextran and poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) fibers are formed via electrospinning, in sizes ranging from nanometers to microns in diameter. While "as-electrospun" fibers are continuous in length, sonication is used to fragment fibers into short fiber "bristles" and generate nano- and micro- fibrous surface coatings over a wide range of topographies. Dex-PAA fibrous surfaces are chemically modified, and then optimized and characterized for non-fouling and ECM-mimetic properties. The non-fouling nature of fibers is verified, and cell culture studies show differential responses dependent upon chemical, topographical and mechanical properties. Dex-PAA fibers are advantageously unique in that (1) a fine degree of control is possible over three significant parameters critical for modifying cellular response: topography, chemistry and mechanical properties, over a range emulating that of native cellular environments, (2) the innate nature of the material is non-fouling, providing an inert background for adding back specific bioactive functionality, and (3) the fibers can be applied as a surface coating or comprise the scaffold itself. This is the first reported work of dex-PAA hydrogel fibers formed via electrospinning and thermal cross-linking, and unique to this method, no toxic solvents or cross-linking agents are needed to create hydrogels or for surface attachment. This is also the first reported work of using sonication to fragment electrospun hydrogel fibers, and in which surface coatings were made via simple electrostatic interaction and dehydration. These versatile features enable fibrous surface coatings to be applied to virtually any material. Results of this research broadly impact the design of biomaterials which contact cells in the body by directing the consequent cell-material interaction.

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2011

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Formation of biomimetic membranes on inorganic supports of different surface morphology and macroscopic geometry

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Biological membranes are critical to cell sustainability by selectively permeating polar molecules into the intracellular space and providing protection to the interior organelles. Biomimetic membranes (model cell membranes) are often used to fundamentally study the lipid bilayer backbone structure of

Biological membranes are critical to cell sustainability by selectively permeating polar molecules into the intracellular space and providing protection to the interior organelles. Biomimetic membranes (model cell membranes) are often used to fundamentally study the lipid bilayer backbone structure of the biological membrane. Lipid bilayer membranes are often supported using inorganic materials in an effort to improve membrane stability and for application to novel biosensing platforms. Published literature has shown that a variety of dense inorganic materials with various surface properties have been investigated for the study of biomimetic membranes. However, literature does not adequately address the effect of porous materials or supports with varying macroscopic geometries on lipid bilayer membrane behavior. The objective of this dissertation is to present a fundamental study on the synthesis of lipid bilayer membranes supported by novel inorganic supports in an effort to expand the number of available supports for biosensing technology. There are two fundamental areas covered including: (1) synthesis of lipid bilayer membranes on porous inorganic materials and (2) synthesis and characterization of cylindrically supported lipid bilayer membranes. The lipid bilayer membrane formation behavior on various porous supports was studied via direct mass adsorption using a quartz crystal microbalance. Experimental results demonstrate significantly different membrane formation behaviors on the porous inorganic supports. A lipid bilayer membrane structure was formed only on SiO2 based surfaces (dense SiO2 and silicalite, basic conditions) and gamma-alumina (acidic conditions). Vesicle monolayer adsorption was observed on gamma-alumina (basic conditions), and yttria stabilized zirconia (YSZ) of varying roughness. Parameters such as buffer pH, surface chemistry and surface roughness were found to have a significant impact on the vesicle adsorption kinetics. Experimental and modeling work was conducted to study formation and characterization of cylindrically supported lipid bilayer membranes. A novel sensing technique (long-period fiber grating refractometry) was utilized to measure the formation mechanism of lipid bilayer membranes on an optical fiber. It was found that the membrane formation kinetics on the fiber was similar to its planar SiO2 counterpart. Fluorescence measurements verified membrane transport behavior and found that characterization artifacts affected the measured transport behavior.

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2011

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Bridging divides through technology use: transnationalism and digital literacy socialization

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In this study, I investigate the digital literacy practices of adult immigrants, and their relationship with transnational processes and practices. Specifically, I focus on their conditions of access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) in their life trajectories, their

In this study, I investigate the digital literacy practices of adult immigrants, and their relationship with transnational processes and practices. Specifically, I focus on their conditions of access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) in their life trajectories, their conditions of learning in a community center, and their appropriation of digital literacy practices for transnational purposes. By studying the culturally situated nature of digital literacies of adult learners with transnational affiliations, I build on recent empirical work in the fields of New Literacy Studies, sociocultural approaches to learning, and transnational studies. In this qualitative study, I utilized ethnographic techniques for data collection, including participant observation, interviewing, and collection of material and electronic artifacts. I drew from case study approaches to analyze and present the experiences of five adult first-generation immigrant participants. I also negotiated multiple positionalities during the two phases of the study: as a participant observer and instructor's aide during the Basic Computer Skills course participants attended, and as a researcher-practitioner in the Web Design course that followed. From these multiple vantage points, my analysis demonstrates that participants' access to ICTs is shaped by structural factors, family dynamics, and individuals' constructions of the value of digital literacies. These factors influence participants' conditions of access to material resources, such as computer equipment, and access to mentoring opportunities with members of their social networks. In addition, my analysis of the instructional practices in the classroom shows that instructors used multiple modalities, multiple languages and specialized discourses to scaffold participants' understandings of digital spaces and interfaces. Lastly, in my analysis of participants' repertoires of digital literacy practices, I found that their engagement in technology use for purposes of communication, learning, political participation and online publishing supported their maintenance of transnational affiliations. Conversely, participants' transnational ties and resources supported their appropriation of digital literacies in everyday practice. This study concludes with a discussion on the relationship among learning, digital literacies and transnationalism, and the contributions of critical and ethnographic perspectives to the study of programs that can bridge digital inequality for minority groups.

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2011

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Coronary artery plaque assessment with fast switched dual energy X-ray computed tomography angiography

Description

Coronary computed tomography angiography (CTA) has a high negative predictive value for ruling out coronary artery disease with non-invasive evaluation of the coronary arteries. My work has attempted to provide metrics that could increase the positive predictive value of coronary

Coronary computed tomography angiography (CTA) has a high negative predictive value for ruling out coronary artery disease with non-invasive evaluation of the coronary arteries. My work has attempted to provide metrics that could increase the positive predictive value of coronary CTA through the use of dual energy CTA imaging. After developing an algorithm for obtaining calcium scores from a CTA exam, a dual energy CTA exam was performed on patients at dose levels equivalent to levels for single energy CTA with a calcium scoring exam. Calcium Agatston scores obtained from the dual energy CTA exam were within ±11% of scores obtained with conventional calcium scoring exams. In the presence of highly attenuating coronary calcium plaques, the virtual non-calcium images obtained with dual energy CTA were able to successfully measure percent coronary stenosis within 5% of known stenosis values, which is not possible with single energy CTA images due to the presence of the calcium blooming artifact. After fabricating an anthropomorphic beating heart phantom with coronary plaques, characterization of soft plaque vulnerability to rupture or erosion was demonstrated with measurements of the distance from soft plaque to aortic ostium, percent stenosis, and percent lipid volume in soft plaque. A classification model was developed, with training data from the beating heart phantom and plaques, which utilized support vector machines to classify coronary soft plaque pixels as lipid or fibrous. Lipid versus fibrous classification with single energy CTA images exhibited a 17% error while dual energy CTA images in the classification model developed here only exhibited a 4% error. Combining the calcium blooming correction and the percent lipid volume methods developed in this work will provide physicians with metrics for increasing the positive predictive value of coronary CTA as well as expanding the use of coronary CTA to patients with highly attenuating calcium plaques.

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Date Created
2013

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Low power, high throughput continuous flow PCR instruments for environmental applications

Description

Continuous monitoring in the adequate temporal and spatial scale is necessary for a better understanding of environmental variations. But field deployments of molecular biological analysis platforms in that scale are currently hindered because of issues with power, throughput and automation.

Continuous monitoring in the adequate temporal and spatial scale is necessary for a better understanding of environmental variations. But field deployments of molecular biological analysis platforms in that scale are currently hindered because of issues with power, throughput and automation. Currently, such analysis is performed by the collection of large sample volumes from over a wide area and transporting them to laboratory testing facilities, which fail to provide any real-time information. This dissertation evaluates the systems currently utilized for in-situ field analyses and the issues hampering the successful deployment of such bioanalytial instruments for environmental applications. The design and development of high throughput, low power, and autonomous Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) instruments, amenable for portable field operations capable of providing quantitative results is presented here as part of this dissertation. A number of novel innovations have been reported here as part of this work in microfluidic design, PCR thermocycler design, optical design and systems integration. Emulsion microfluidics in conjunction with fluorinated oils and Teflon tubing have been used for the fluidic module that reduces cross-contamination eliminating the need for disposable components or constant cleaning. A cylindrical heater has been designed with the tubing wrapped around fixed temperature zones enabling continuous operation. Fluorescence excitation and detection have been achieved by using a light emitting diode (LED) as the excitation source and a photomultiplier tube (PMT) as the detector. Real-time quantitative PCR results were obtained by using multi-channel fluorescence excitation and detection using LED, optical fibers and a 64-channel multi-anode PMT for measuring continuous real-time fluorescence. The instrument was evaluated by comparing the results obtained with those obtained from a commercial instrument and found to be comparable. To further improve the design and enhance its field portability, this dissertation also presents a framework for the instrumentation necessary for a portable digital PCR platform to achieve higher throughputs with lower power. Both systems were designed such that it can easily couple with any upstream platform capable of providing nucleic acid for analysis using standard fluidic connections. Consequently, these instruments can be used not only in environmental applications, but portable diagnostics applications as well.

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2013

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The effects of deep brain stimulation amplitude on motor performance in Parkinson's disease

Description

The efficacy of deep brain stimulation (DBS) in Parkinson's disease (PD) has been convincingly demonstrated in studies that compare motor performance with and without stimulation, but characterization of performance at intermediate stimulation amplitudes has been limited. This study investigated the

The efficacy of deep brain stimulation (DBS) in Parkinson's disease (PD) has been convincingly demonstrated in studies that compare motor performance with and without stimulation, but characterization of performance at intermediate stimulation amplitudes has been limited. This study investigated the effects of changing DBS amplitude in order to assess dose-response characteristics, inter-subject variability, consistency of effect across outcome measures, and day-to-day variability. Eight subjects with PD and bilateral DBS systems were evaluated at their clinically determined stimulation (CDS) and at three reduced amplitude conditions: approximately 70%, 30%, and 0% of the CDS (MOD, LOW, and OFF, respectively). Overall symptom severity and performance on a battery of motor tasks - gait, postural control, single-joint flexion-extension, postural tremor, and tapping - were assessed at each condition using the motor section of the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS-III) and quantitative measures. Data were analyzed to determine whether subjects demonstrated a threshold response (one decrement in stimulation resulted in ≥ 70% of the maximum change) or a graded response to reduced stimulation. Day-to-day variability was assessed using the CDS data from the three testing sessions. Although the cohort as a whole demonstrated a graded response on several measures, there was high variability across subjects, with subsets exhibiting graded, threshold, or minimal responses. Some subjects experienced greater variability in their CDS performance across the three days than the change induced by reducing stimulation. For several tasks, a subset of subjects exhibited improved performance at one or more of the reduced conditions. Reducing stimulation did not affect all subjects equally, nor did it uniformly affect each subject's performance across tasks. These results indicate that altered recruitment of neural structures can differentially affect motor capabilities and demonstrate the need for clinical consideration of the effects on multiple symptoms across several days when selecting DBS parameters.

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2013

Intracortical microstimulation of somatosensory cortex: functional encoding and localization of neuronal recruitment

Description

Intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) within somatosensory cortex can produce artificial sensations including touch, pressure, and vibration. There is significant interest in using ICMS to provide sensory feedback for a prosthetic limb. In such a system, information recorded from sensors on the

Intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) within somatosensory cortex can produce artificial sensations including touch, pressure, and vibration. There is significant interest in using ICMS to provide sensory feedback for a prosthetic limb. In such a system, information recorded from sensors on the prosthetic would be translated into electrical stimulation and delivered directly to the brain, providing feedback about features of objects in contact with the prosthetic. To achieve this goal, multiple simultaneous streams of information will need to be encoded by ICMS in a manner that produces robust, reliable, and discriminable sensations. The first segment of this work focuses on the discriminability of sensations elicited by ICMS within somatosensory cortex. Stimulation on multiple single electrodes and near-simultaneous stimulation across multiple electrodes, driven by a multimodal tactile sensor, were both used in these experiments. A SynTouch BioTac sensor was moved across a flat surface in several directions, and a subset of the sensor's electrode impedance channels were used to drive multichannel ICMS in the somatosensory cortex of a non-human primate. The animal performed a behavioral task during this stimulation to indicate the discriminability of sensations evoked by the electrical stimulation. The animal's responses to ICMS were somewhat inconsistent across experimental sessions but indicated that discriminable sensations were evoked by both single and multichannel ICMS. The factors that affect the discriminability of stimulation-induced sensations are not well understood, in part because the relationship between ICMS and the neural activity it induces is poorly defined. The second component of this work was to develop computational models that describe the populations of neurons likely to be activated by ICMS. Models of several neurons were constructed, and their responses to ICMS were calculated. A three-dimensional cortical model was constructed using these cell models and used to identify the populations of neurons likely to be recruited by ICMS. Stimulation activated neurons in a sparse and discontinuous fashion; additionally, the type, number, and location of neurons likely to be activated by stimulation varied with electrode depth.

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Date Created
2013

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Ultrasound modulation of the central and peripheral nervous system

Description

Noninvasive neuromodulation could help treat many neurological disorders, but existing techniques have low resolution and weak penetration. Ultrasound (US) shows promise for stimulation of smaller areas and subcortical structures. However, the mechanism and parameter design are not understood. US can

Noninvasive neuromodulation could help treat many neurological disorders, but existing techniques have low resolution and weak penetration. Ultrasound (US) shows promise for stimulation of smaller areas and subcortical structures. However, the mechanism and parameter design are not understood. US can stimulate tail and hindlimb movements in rats, but not forelimb, for unknown reasons. Potentially, US could also stimulate peripheral or enteric neurons for control of blood glucose.

To better understand the inconsistent effects across rat motor cortex, US modulation of electrically-evoked movements was tested. A stimulation array was implanted on the cortical surface and US (200 kHz, 30-60 W/cm2 peak) was applied while measuring changes in the evoked forelimb and hindlimb movements. Direct US stimulation of the hindlimb was also studied. To test peripheral effects, rat blood glucose levels were measured while applying US near the liver.

No short-term motor modulation was visible (95% confidence interval: -3.5% to +5.1% forelimb, -3.8% to +5.5% hindlimb). There was significant long-term (minutes-order) suppression (95% confidence interval: -3.7% to -10.8% forelimb, -3.8% to -11.9% hindlimb). This suppression may be due to the considerable heating (+1.8°C between US
on-US conditions); effects of heat and US were not separable in this experiment. US directly evoked hindlimb and scrotum movements in some sessions. This required a long interval, at least 3 seconds between US bursts. Movement could be evoked with much shorter pulses than used in literature (3 ms). The EMG latency (10 ms) was compatible with activation of corticospinal neurons. The glucose modulation test showed a strong increase in a few trials, but across all trials found no significant effect.

The single motor response and the long refractory period together suggest that only the beginning of the US burst had a stimulatory effect. This would explain the lack of short-term modulation, and suggests future work with shorter pulses could better explore the missing forelimb response. During the refractory period there was no change in the electrically-evoked response, which suggests the US stimulation mechanism is independent of normal brain activity. These results challenge the literature-standard protocols and provide new insights on the unknown mechanism.

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Date Created
2015

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Comprehensive interactive neurorehabilitation system design and implementation through the application of interdisciplinary research and integrated design approaches

Description

Stroke is a leading cause of disability with varying effects across stroke survivors necessitating comprehensive approaches to rehabilitation. Interactive neurorehabilitation (INR) systems represent promising technological solutions that can provide an array of sensing, feedback and analysis tools which hold the

Stroke is a leading cause of disability with varying effects across stroke survivors necessitating comprehensive approaches to rehabilitation. Interactive neurorehabilitation (INR) systems represent promising technological solutions that can provide an array of sensing, feedback and analysis tools which hold the potential to maximize clinical therapy as well as extend therapy to the home. Currently, there are a variety of approaches to INR design, which coupled with minimal large-scale clinical data, has led to a lack of cohesion in INR design. INR design presents an inherently complex space as these systems have multiple users including stroke survivors, therapists and designers, each with their own user experience needs. This dissertation proposes that comprehensive INR design, which can address this complex user space, requires and benefits from the application of interdisciplinary research that spans motor learning and interactive learning. A methodology for integrated and iterative design approaches to INR task experience, assessment, hardware, software and interactive training protocol design is proposed within the comprehensive example of design and implementation of a mixed reality rehabilitation system for minimally supervised environments. This system was tested with eight stroke survivors who showed promising results in both functional and movement quality improvement. The results of testing the system with stroke survivors as well as observing user experiences will be presented along with suggested improvements to the proposed design methodology. This integrative design methodology is proposed to have benefit for not only comprehensive INR design but also complex interactive system design in general.

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Date Created
2014

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Antibody based diagnostic and therapeutic approach for Alzheimer's disease

Description

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia leading to cognitive dysfunction and memory loss as well as emotional and behavioral disorders. It is the 6th leading cause of death in United States, and the only one among

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia leading to cognitive dysfunction and memory loss as well as emotional and behavioral disorders. It is the 6th leading cause of death in United States, and the only one among top 10 death causes that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed. An estimated 5.4 million Americans live with AD, and this number is expected to triple by year 2050 as the baby boomers age. The cost of care for AD in the US is about $200 billion each year. Unfortunately, in addition to the lack of an effective treatment or AD, there is also a lack of an effective diagnosis, particularly an early diagnosis which would enable treatment to begin before significant neuronal damage has occurred.

Increasing evidence implicates soluble oligomeric forms of beta-amyloid and tau in the onset and progression of AD. While many studies have focused on beta-amyloid, soluble oligomeric tau species may also play an important role in AD pathogenesis. Antibodies that selectively identify and target specific oligomeric tau variants would be valuable tools for both diagnostic and therapeutic applications and also to study the etiology of AD and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Recombinant human tau (rhTau) in monomeric, dimeric, trimeric and fibrillar forms were synthesized and purified to perform LDH assay on human neuroblastoma cells, so that trimeric but not monomeric or dimeric rhTau was identified as extracellularly neurotoxic to neuronal cells. A novel biopanning protocol was designed based on phage display technique and atomic force microscopy (AFM), and used to isolate single chain antibody variable domain fragments (scFvs) that selectively recognize the toxic tau oligomers. These scFvs selectively bind tau variants in brain tissue of human AD patients and AD-related tau transgenic rodent models and have potential value as early diagnostic biomarkers for AD and as potential therapeutics to selectively target toxic tau aggregates.

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Date Created
2014