Join us for our talk with Dr. Karagiannis from MIT as part of the Bioengineering Spring 2015 Seminar Series! Coffee and cookies are served. For more information on upcoming seminars, go to our website and check the events tab:

For visitors from outside Mason – Parking is best in the Shenandoah Parking Garage ( Bldg. 43 on the campus map) and the seminar is in the Nguyen Engineering Building (# 37):



When: Thursday – April 16th, 2015 @ 1:30 -2:30 PM

Location: ENGR 3507

Speaker: Emmanouil Karagiannis, Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Research Associate,  Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Title: Engineering Biomaterials For Brain Structural Mapping


One of the greatest challenges of biomedical science and engineering is understanding how the brain works. Although during the last couple of centuries mankind has achieved significant progress in understanding the complexity of biological systems, the way that different tissues operate and the molecular mechanisms that underline many diseases, there is yet no comprehensive and complete description of how brain works.

Understanding the brain function is a very complex, multiscale problem. The complexity stems from the large number of neurons that exist and interact in a small tissue volume, their irregular shapes that can make them span multiple layers within the tissue as well as the extraordinary number of connections (synapses) that occur in such a confined space; there are hundreds of million synapses within a cubic millimeter of brain tissue. A significant drawback in understanding how the brain operates is the absence, in the molecular level, of a map that enables the visualization of the way that the neurons structurally connect and interact with each other.

In my presentation I will introduce my efforts to combine materials science, nanoengineering and neuroengineering to create new platforms that will help us elucidate the neuronal connectivity using optical microscopy. Specifically I will introduce 3 different tools that I am currently developing:

1.       Novel methods to excise and preserve the brain tissue without altering any of its structural characteristics.

2.       Scalable optical microscopy methods to image the neurons in nanoscale resolution; I will introduce you to Expansion Microscopy (ExM), a novel microscopy technique recently developed in Boyden lab that enables achieving super resolution images using common optical microscopes.

3.       Labels that are compatible to such microscopy techniques and can recapitulate the neuronal interactions in the nanoscale.


Emmanouil D. Karagiannis, Ph.D., is a research scientist in the laboratory of Prof. Ed Boyden at the Synthetic Neurobiology group at Media Lab, MIT. He completed his undergraduate degree at the Department of Chemical Engineering at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece and did his Ph.D. at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. At Hopkins he worked in the systems biology laboratory of Prof. Aleksander Popel and developed computational biology models of the extracellular matrix proteolysis and cell migration, as well as proteomic and bioinformatic algorithms which eventually lead to the identification of a new generation of anti-angiogenic peptides. The clinical application of such peptides in a variety of diseases including cancer and macular degeneration is the focus of a start-up company in the Baltimore area. After completing his Ph.D. he moved to the laboratory of Prof. Langer at MIT as a post-doctoral research associate. In Langer lab he combined his background in computational biology and peptide engineering to synthesize libraries of novel cell penetrating peptides often called “magic bullets” that can deliver a variety of drugs to different tissues. He also contributed in developing DNA origamis for the delivery of oligonucleotides as drugs and established computational platforms to study the signaling pathways during the differentiation of human embryonic stem cells in synthetic tissue engineered scaffolds. Currently, in the lab of Prof. Ed Boyden he is developing new tools, to deliver genes and nanoparticles to the CNS that modify the physical and chemical properties of the brain tissue, to study its structure and function in the nanoscale. He is also developing chemical biology labels to stain neurons with nanometer resolution and map in great detail their structure using optical microscopy. The most significant application of such tools is the mapping of the brain connectome; the way that neurons interact functionally and morphologically. He is the author of 21 peer-reviewed papers, 3 book chapters and holds 3 patents.


Claudia Borke

Academic Program Coordinator

Volgenau School of Engineering, Department of Bioengineering

3800 Nguyen Engineering Building, 1G5

4400 University Drive

Fairfax, VA 22030

Phone: (703) 993-4190

Fax: (703) 993-2077