Mikhail G. Shapiro, Ph.D.


Mikhail G. Shapiro, Ph.D.
Chemical Engineering
California Institute of Technology
1200 E. California Blvd.
MC 210-41
City, State, ZIP
Pasadena, CA 91125
(626) 395-8588
[email protected]
Research field
Award year
Pew distinction
Innovation Fund investigator


Our laboratory is focused on developing biomolecular technologies that allow cells to be imaged and controlled deep inside the body using sound waves and magnetic fields. This work is motivated by the need to study biological function within the context of intact organisms and develop cell-based diagnostic and therapeutic agents for a wide range of diseases. Within this context, most existing biomolecular tools, which rely on optical interactions, are challenging to use because of the scattering of light by tissue. To overcome this challenge, our research makes unexpected connections between proteins, cells, and the physics of ultrasound and magnetic resonance. Highlights include the development of the first acoustic reporter genes and biosensors for ultrasound, the creation of genetic bioswitches for acoustic and thermal remote-control of cellular function, the development of technologies for the noninvasive control of neural circuits, and the introduction of several new classes of reporter genes for magnetic resonance imaging. These advances are now enabling the pursuit of biological questions and biomedical solutions that were intractable with previously available technologies.

As an Innovation Fund investigator, Mikhail Shapiro, Ph.D., is teaming up with Michael Halassa, M.D., Ph.D., to explore the connection of two areas of the brain in modulating decision-making in patients with schizophrenia. Recent neuroimaging in humans has shown that the mediodorsal thalamus is a critical area for tracking uncertainty in decision-making. Furthermore, the connection between this particular region and the prefrontal cortex is often perturbed in patients with schizophrenia. The pair will combine expertise from Shapiro’s work in biomolecular imaging and Halassa’s research in neural circuit mechanisms to investigate whether neurostimulation of the mediodorsal thalamus can enhance the activity of the prefrontal cortex. They will use tree shrews as a model organism for their studies to examine the two regions of the brain using a noninvasive technology developed by the Shapiro lab and observe for behavioral effects from the manipulation. This work has the potential to enhance our current understanding of brain circuits in patients suffering from schizophrenia and inform the development of new approaches to managing schizophrenic symptoms related to delusional thinking.

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