Neurotechnology for Accessing Nicotine Addiction in the Brain

Lecture / Panel
For NYU Community

Image of Brain-on-a-chip


Metin Akay, PhD
John S. Dunn Professor and Founding Chair
Department of Biomedical Engineering
University of Houston


Dr. Akay’s laboratory is interested in a broad range of topics related to neural engineering. His team recently developed a new brain cancer chip that allows multiple-simultaneous drug administration and massively parallel testing of drug responses for patients with glioblastoma (GBM). This platform promises to optimize the use of rare tumor samples derived from GBM patients to provide valuable insight on the tumor growth and responses to drug therapies in as little as two weeks. In the area of maternal substance abuse they found that dopamine neurons, in response to nicotine exposure during pregnancy, were significantly activated. This may result in babies being born addicted to nicotine. Studying gene-regulator networks they are hoping to develop targeted medication that could eliminate addiction in offspring and provide future treatments that assist in smoking and alcohol cessation. More recently, Dr. Akay’s group has developed a new approach for the early detection of coronary artery disease by detecting and analyzing diastolic heart sounds associated with turbulent blood flow in partially occluded coronary arteries. Decision parameters used in this research may be employed to achieve an improved, non-invasive diagnostic capability.

Dr. Akay earned his Ph.D. degree from Rutgers University in 1990. Among his many honors and awards are elected fellowships from AIMBE and AAAs. He is the President-Elect of the IEEE-EMBS and Chair-Elect of International Academy of Medical Biological Engineering. In addition to his research, Dr. Akay has played a key role in promoting biomedical education in the world by writing and editing several books, editing several special issues of prestigious journals, including the Proc of IEEE, and giving more than hundred keynote, plenary and invited talks at international conferences, symposiums and workshops regarding emerging technolo-gies in biomedical engineering

Functional enrichment analysis of differentially expressed genes (DEGs)
Functional enrichment analysis of differentially expressed genes (DEGs) from non-dopaminergics during pregnancy of women with chronic nicotine exposure: (a) down- and (b) up-regulated gene lists. (Akay et al, “Comparison between dopa-minergic and non-dopaminergic neurons in the VTA following chronic nicotine exposure during pregnancy,” Scientific Reports (2019) 9:445)