Kirill Chesnov

Calcium-Dependent Neuronal Activity Visualisation via a Bioluminescent Reporter

My project aims to develop an improved method for reporting calcium influx in vitro and in vivo. Bioluminescent calcium sensing is aimed at allowing researchers to accurately and quantitatively observe neuronal activity. Compared to conventional fluorescent calcium sensing, bioluminescent calcium sensing does not produce any noise in the data, does not have crosstalk with opsins, and can be used in a lensless imaging system. This project uses a new combination of recently developed synthetic proteins in-vitro to assess the potential for in-vivo experiments. Specifically, I will culture neurons, express in them the bioluminescent protein complex, and quantify the levels of bioluminescence under varying conditions as the first step. Further on, I plan to express bioluminescent protein in-vivo and, using a lensless imaging system, verify the feasibility of this approach for ameliorating calcium sensing in-vivo. The method itself would be the major valuable product derived from this project, because any improvement in calcium sensing is crucial for advancement for the field of neurobiology as a whole.

Message to Sponsor

I wish to convey my gratitude to the Pergo Fund for providing me with the means to live in Berkeley and conduct research full time this summer. These months that I spent in lab were crucial in building my scientific foundation and preparing me for the graduate school. In particular, as far as I can tell, this was very close to the experience of rotations at the initial steps of a PhD program. I got a chance to see what kind of persistence is needed to keep working on something until it finally works, and all this thanks to your contribution! Thank you, not only for helping me work on my project, but also for your general support of SURF program's effort to advance scientific exploration and curiosity!
  • Major: MCB Neurobiology, Computer Science
  • Sponsor: Pergo L&S
  • Mentor: Hillel Adesnik