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Doctoral student targets neurological disorders

The first step is to build a model of selected brain circuits to study multiple sclerosis

USC electrical engineer Kun Yue believes in nanotechnology.

“There is no known cure for many of the most debilitating neural diseases,” said Yue, a Ph.D. student in the USC Viterbi Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering. “New technology can ease people’s suffering.”

Nano medicine is popular, but not many are working on it because few universities have the resources for the interdisciplinary work.

Kun Yue

Yue, who is pursuing his research with the help of a 2014 Research Enhancement Fellowship awarded by the USC Graduate School, is devising an ambitious interdisciplinary plan to treat neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis with nanotechnology under the guidance of Professor Alice Parker, leader of the USC BioRC Project.

Parker’s team has accepted the National Academy of Engineering’s challenge to reverse engineer the brain, and Yue’s work is part of it.

Ph.D. student Kun Yue

Doctoral student Kun Yue (USC Photo/Steve Cohn)

“Nano medicine is popular, but not many are working on it because few universities have the resources for the interdisciplinary work,” Yue said. “USC is one of the universities that does.”

This interdisciplinary research has wide implications for the treatment and understanding of neurological disorders. The current treatment for many such ailments is deep brain stimulation, for which an electrode is implanted in the brain through invasive surgery. Nanotechnology has the potential to achieve the same results without the risks of major surgery.

Yue’s first step to achieving this goal is to build an electrical circuit model of selected brain circuits. This model will help Yue and other researchers to understand how disorders such as multiple sclerosis occur in the brain and pave the way for developing medical treatments.

He will use the support of the Research Enhancement Fellowship to take advantage of USC’s strengths in key research areas. Beyond the field of electrical engineering, Yue will work with USC’s experts in neuroscience, medicine and pharmacology.

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Doctoral student targets neurological disorders

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