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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology


Dr Alexander Boys, a Postdoctoral Research Associate working in the Bioelectronic Systems Technology Group with Dr Róisín Owens, was recently awarded a 3-year Cross-Disciplinary Fellowship from the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP). He will be working with Dr Owens and Professor George Malliaras of the Department of Engineering on developing tissue engineered implants for mapping the neural pathways of the nervous system of the gut.

The HFSP Cross-Disciplinary Fellowships support 15 young scientists to embark on research at the interface of biology and neighbouring disciplines, and Dr Boys was one of the selected few to receive the award. “I am honoured to be among those selected for a HFSP fellowship and very excited to begin my work mapping the neural architecture of the gut," said Alex. "I originally got into this field to work on implants, and this fellowship will allow me to take my work to the next level, focusing on a cutting-edge area of science in the gut-brain axis."

His study focuses on the development of a tissue-engineered, bioelectronic neural probe for mapping the neural architecture of the gut in live animals, specifically targeting the influence of gut bacteria on the brain. “To examine the long-term effects of the gut microbiome on brain health, I will be working on developing a new type of neural implant that can monitor neural signalling in the gut over a period of months," said Alex. "In addition to new implant design, this study will provide us with a better understanding of how what we eat affects the way we think."

This project involves an international collaboration in life science research covering a variety of fields including biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, neuroscience, and gastroenterology. As such, the team for this work includes multiple researchers from around the world. The team at Cambridge will also be collaborating with Dr Niall Hyland at University College Cork and Professor Nicholas Melosh at Stanford University.

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