Developing microfluidic systems for high throughput studies of functional neuronal networks


This project aims to develop new microfluidic systems for neuronal culture that makes it possible to take simultaneous optical and electrical recordings of cellular activity.  Applications to drug screening, gene function and neurotoxicity will reduce the need for animal studies in these areas.


Disorders of the central nervous system (CNS) have a severe impact on society, especially with an ageing population. Technological advances can drive forward understanding of how neuronal function and communication is altered in CNS disorders. In vitro methods have been valuable research tools for studying the function of neurons, but conventional techniques do not allow the parameters that influence cellular activity and communication to be controlled. Microfluidic technology could provide a viable solution to these problems because it can give researchers greater control over the formation of simplified neuronal networks that mimic conditions in animals.

Research details and methods

The aim of this project is to develop novel and high throughput microfluidic systems for advanced patterning of neuronal cultures. These will allow simultaneous optical and electrical recording of cellular activity and will be used for drug screening and mechanistic studies of gene function implicated in CNS disorders. Novel patterning of neuronal cultures will also enable the study of how localised neurotoxicity spreads to affect neighbouring cells.

MacKerron C et al. (2017). A Microfluidic Platform for the Characterisation of CNS Active Compounds. Scientific Reports 7(1):15692. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-15950-0

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PhD Studentship



Principal investigator

Dr Michele Zagnoni


University of Strathclyde


Dr Trevor Bushell

Grant reference number


Award date

Sep 2014 - Aug 2017

Grant amount