About Us

The laboratory for BioNano Probes and Biomimetic Materials, formerly the laboratory for neural nanoprobes and prosthetic devices is directed by Dr. Jessica Winter in the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at the Ohio State University in Columbus, OH.

Research pursuits are focused on the development of micro- and nanoscale biomaterials that can be used to modulate nerve cells. The nerve cell is a fascinating model system because it responds to chemical, mechanical, and electrical cues. Additionally, neurons have been integrated with many micron-scale clinical and research devices. They can interact with electronic materials to create computational devices, have been cultured on microelectrodes to gain basic neuroscience insights, and can be stimulated with implanted prosthetic implants. Our work is divided into three main thrusts:

Cellular Nanoprobes

We are developing nanoparticles for the manipulation of subcellular features. These nanoparticles contain multiple functionalities. Typically, one functionality allows the particles to directly interact with the cell (e.g., provide a force, deliver a chemical), while the other functionality provides a means of observation (e.g., fluorescence). These particles represent a first generation class of materials for cellular engineering, and are expected to significantly impact the field of biological investigation. Nanoprobes will provide new insight into the biomolecular basis of disease, allow for biosensors that can detect a single molecule, harness neural networks for computation, and lead to prosthetic devices that interface with their hosts at the cellular-level. Click here to learn more.

Tissue Engineered Neural Prosthetics

Neural prosthetics have provided amazing improvements in quality of life for patients with traumatic injuries, degenerative diseases, and congenital conditions. However, the majority of these devices have been manufactured on silicon or polymer substrates using traditional microelectronic fabrication techniques. Clinical observation and experiment has demonstrated that the biocompatibility of these materials, while sufficient to merit implantation, could be dramatically improved. Chronic responses to these materials include the formation of a capsule of scar tissue surrounding the device and death of neurons in closest proximity, both of which increase device electrical requirements. Our group is applying tissue engineering concepts to neural prostheses to mitigate these events. Click here to learn more.

Nanopatterns for Directed Neuronal Growth

There is ample evidence that cells respond to their microscale environment with altered cell adhesion, migration, proliferation, and in the case of neurons neurite extension and synapse formation. Despite preliminary studies showing that the nanoscale environment may play a similar role, few researchers have investigated the effect of the nanoscale environment on cells. One of the primary limitations in this research has been the inability to create reproducible, stable nanoscale patterns. Our group is developing techniques to create these patterns and investigating their effects on neurons and nervous system support cells, with the intention of creating improved neural prosthetic devices. Click here to learn more.

Our research laboratories are located on the 4 th floor of Koffolt Laboratories on the Ohio State University campus, and are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for cell culture, nanoparticle fabrication, polymer synthesis, and fluorescence and spinning disk confocal microscopy. To accomplish our work, we collaborate with several outside investigators including faculty at Harvard, the Boston VA Hospital, Huntington Medical Research Institute, and EIC Laboratories, a Norwood, MA company that is the leader in coatings for biomedical electrical stimulation devices.

Contact Information

Dr. Jessica Winter
140 West 19 th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
Phone: 614-247-7668
Fax: 614-292-3769
Email: winter.63@osu.edu
Campus Location