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Sebastien Uzel

Email: suzel@mit.edu

Focus group: Biologocal machines, Differentiation

Department: Mechanical engineering

Hometown: Lorient, France

Undergrad: Lycee Clemenceau, Nantes; Ecole Centrale Paris, France

Research summary:

In the body, cells evolve in a complex environment and assume specific morphologies that are crucial to faithfully recapitulate in vitro if one wants to accurately investigate their behavior and fiunction. Neurons are no exception to this. My research focuses on developing microfluidic platforms to mimic the intricacy of the microenvironment of the developing spinal cord. In a first device, orthogonal gradients of chemokines can be generated, exposing embryonic stem cells to chemical profiles of morphogens emulating those found in the developing neural tube and we demonstrate differentiation of motor neurons in regions of the device that corresponds to their in vivo counterparts. Another platform emulates the 3D and compartmentalized arrangement of motor neurons and skeletal muscles. In this device, we demonstrated the formation of neuromuscular junctions with C2C12-derived myofibers from distant sources and assessed the functionality of the synapses by an optogentic method.

Motor neurons extending axons towards a muscle bundle in 3D.