An interdisciplinary team of researchers from Columbia University, led by Ken Shepard, professor of electrical engineering and biomedical engineering at Columbia Engineering and including Virginia W. Cornish, Helena Rubinstein Professor of Chemistry, and Lars Dietrich, assistant professor of biological sciences, has won a prestigious $1 million three-year grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation to advance their research in combining biological components with solid-state electronics, creating new systems that exploit the advantages of both.
A team of researchers at Columbia Engineering has used miniaturized electronics to measure the activity of individual ion-channel proteins with temporal resolution as fine as one microsecond, producing the fastest recordings of single ion channels ever performed. Ion channels are biomolecules that allow charged atoms to flow in and out of cells, and they are an important work-horse in cell signaling, sensing, and energetics. They are also being explored for nanopore sequencing applications. As the “transistors” of living systems, they are the target of many drugs, and the ability to perform such fast measurements of these proteins will lead to new understanding of their functions.