Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Hong Susan Zhou, Advisor


Jianhua Zhou




Regenerative medicine holds promises for many neurodegenerative diseases such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), a disorder that occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain, leading to apoptosis or necrosis of brain neurons. More than 5 million Americans suffer from TBI as a result of inability to regenerate damaged neurons. The aim of this project was to develop a biocompatible and electrically conductive substrate to promote growth and regeneration of neurons and for our long-term goal as a probe to record intracellular and multisite signals from brain. The substrate was fabricated by pyrolyzing a polymeric precursor -SPR 220.7 at temperatures higher than 700 ºC. Human Neuroblastoma cells - SK-N-MC, SY5Y and mouse teratocarcinoma cells P-19 were found to attach and proliferate on photoresist derived carbon film. Growth and differentiation of rat pheochromocytoma cell-PC12 that serves as a model for primary neurons was demonstrated. Initial examination of cell growth and differentiation was done by observing cell shape and size, and measuring the length of neurites after the cells were differentiated by NGF. Further characterization of cells cultured on photoresist derived carbon substrate was achieved by testing mRNA genes- GADPH and Tau. Findings from this investigative work would possibly help to study new approaches to promote neuronal growth and differentiation in damaged brain regions of people with TBI or in patients with other neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease in regaining memories.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Chemical Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





scanning electron microscope, Cell adhesion, carbon, gene expression, nerve growth factor, nerve regeneration, Nervous system, Regeneration, Neurons, Growth, Carbon