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Contact Information

Office:
Life Sciences & Bioengineering Center
dalbrecht@wpi.edu

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Dirk R. Albrecht

My research is in the area of microtechnology and neuroscience, with a focus on developing quantitative tools to study how neural signals govern behavior. My laboratory aims to investigate the molecular and genetic basis of neural circuit function and dynamics, to develop bioinformatic tools for analysis of high-content neural data, and to design rapid cellular and whole-organism screens for therapeutic drugs and genetic modulators affecting neural disease. Research in the lab develops an interdisciplinary set of skills in microfabrication, computation and modeling, lab automation/robotics, molecular biology, genetic engineering, optogenetics, microscopy, and quantitative systems biology. We work primarily with living model organisms, such as the nematode C. elegans, that are amenable to rapid genetic analysis and screening; we aim to then translate our findings toward clinical applications in the treatment of neural disorders.

I look forward to teaching students about topics related to quantitative biology, including the source, measurement, perturbation, and analysis of biological signals. I enjoy working together with students of different backgrounds-- engineering, biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics-- as student projects and our lab research benefit greatly from the complementary approaches of these fields. As a group, we aim to accelerate biomedical discovery by applying engineering principles to increase efficiency and decrease costs. It is a great reward to mentor students to help them become independent scientists with the strong interdisciplinary skills they will need to advance the future of healthcare.

Research Interests

  • Biological microtechnology and bioMEMS
  • Neural dynamics and behavior, neuropeptide signaling
  • Quantitative systems analysis and modeling
  • High-throughput genetic/chemical screening

Education

  • BS, Bioengineering, University of California, San Diego, 1997
  • BS, Biochemistry & Cell Biology, University of California, San Diego, 1997
  • PhD, Bioengineering, University of California, San Diego, 2005
  • Post-doc, Neural Circuits and Behavior, The Rockefeller University, 2007-2012

Featured Publications

  • Albrecht DR+, and Bargmann CI, "High-content behavioral analysis of Caenorhabditis elegans in precise spatiotemporal chemical environments" Nature Methods 8(7):599-605 (2011). +Corresponding author
  • Chalasani SH, Kato S, Albrecht DR, Nakagawa T, Abbott LF, and Bargmann CI, "Neuropeptide feedback modifies odor-evoked dynamics in olfactory neurons" Nature Neuroscience 13(5):615-21 (2010).
  • Albrecht DR*, Underhill GH*, Resnikoff J, Mendelson A, Bhatia SN, and Shah JV, "Microfluidics-integrated time-lapse imaging for analysis of cellular dynamics" Integrative Biology 2(5-6):278-87 (2010).
  • Albrecht DR, Underhill GH, Mendelson A, and Bhatia SN, "Multiphase electropatterning of cells and biomaterials" Lab Chip 7:702-709 (2007).
  • Albrecht DR, Underhill GH, Wassermann TB, Sah RL, and Bhatia SN, "Probing the role of multicellular organization in three-dimensional microenvironments" Nature Methods 3(5):369-375 (2006).

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Professional Highlights

  • Burroughs Wellcome Career Award at the Scientific Interface (CASI), 2008-9; 2013-15
  • Research Awards, BMES, 2002 and UCSD, 2003
  • Whitaker Foundation Fellowship, 1999-2004
 
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