Lise Harbom, B.A. Neuroscience and French, Vanderbilt University
Since the successful reprogramming of human fibroblasts to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), there have been mounting efforts to model neurological diseases in cell culture. Because fibroblasts can be taken from a patient of known phenotype, disorders with a unclear genetic landscape or complex neurophysiological traits can be studied more easily and with a greater quantity of samples. However, consistently creating functional circuits using iPSC-derived neurons has remained a challenge, hindering the usefulness of this technology in studying diseases that are heavily dependent on circuitry abnormalities, such as epilepsy. Our research aims to improve the quality of iPSC-derived neuronal circuitry by mimicking aspects of in vivo development, specifically by providing patterned activity and connectivity during neuron development, and to apply these techniques to investigate epilepsy associated with tuberous sclerosis complex.