Student Spotlight

Bioelectronics Group: Ritchie Chen


Ritchie Chen

Hometown, Country:
Berkeley, CA, USA

Academic history prior to coming to MIT:
B.S Bioengineering and Materials Science and Engineering, UC Berkeley

What brought you to MIT?
I wanted to move away from the Bay Area bubble and experience East Coast life. I knew I wanted to come back to MIT after a summer research experience here as an undergraduate, primarily due to the research quality and accessibility to Boston.

What problem are you trying to solve with your current research and what are some possible applications? Electrical deep brain stimulation of patients with Parkinson’s disease or dystonia can mitigate associated symptoms but requires highly-invasive surgeries with variable results. We are trying to develop alternative neuromodulation techniques that are minimally-invasive to manipulate specific brain circuits. We are looking at converting alternating magnetic fields in the low radiofrequency into heat to evoke action potentials in neurons with magnetic nanoparticle transducers. We hope that our proof of concept experiments can lead to nanotechnology-based medicines to improve human health.

What interests you most about your research?
Bringing science fiction sounding ideas to reality, yet pursuing aspects from all the traditional sciences—biology, chemistry, physics and engineering—to develop a new neuromodulation tool.

What are your future plans?
Potentially moving back to the Bay Area after experiencing all the severe winters we’ve had these past few years.

Learn more about the Bioelectronics Group