Jinxing Li Awarded $500K From National Science Foundation

IQ’s Jinxing Li has just received NSF funding for his project “Multisensory Soft Bioelectronics for Comprehensive Monitoring of Gastrointestinal Physiological Interplay”

Project Summary: The gut, or gastrointestinal tract, widely regarded as our “second brain,” represents the body’s most sophisticated physiological system with complicated biochemistry and biomechanics: (1) Gut biochemistry: it is the home to trillions of microbes that not only transform the diet into key nutrients but also release a variety of neurotransmitters (such as serotonin) and hormones, exerting a marked influence on our physical and mental health. (2) Gut biomechanics: it has multiple muscle layers that stretch and contract synchronously to produce a diverse gut motility pattern for digestion and nutrition absorption. The complex interplay between the gut’s biochemistry and biomechanics constitutes the fundamental physiology of the gastrointestinal system. Dysregulation of these processes can lead to diverse neurological, immune, and bowel disorders. However, studying the complicated physiological inter-regulation in such a series of soft, stretchy, long, and twisting organs with a variety of motility patterns has been a long-standing challenge due to the mechanical mismatch between the biological tissue and conventional electronic components. This project seeks to fill this critical technology gap by developing a soft multisensory bioelectronic device that provides robust and intimate tissue coupling while maintaining its biochemical and biomechanical sensing function during continuous gut motion. The outcomes will be new biodata to spur our fundamental understanding of gut physiology, the interplay between serotonin dynamics and gut motility, as well as new bioelectric tools to diagnose and treat digestive and neurological disorders. This project aims to broaden the participation of young people in engineering, with a particular emphasis on underrepresented minorities and female students. This will be achieved through a comprehensive education plan with a variety of engaging activities, including K-12 student and teacher summer programs on electronics and robotics, undergraduate research programs and design-focused courses, and science and art festival demonstrations.