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WUSTL engineer using Jello to study waves in brain from traumatic impact
Date:9/19/2013

ics in traumatic brain injury.

As part of the project, Ruth Okamoto, DSc, senior research associate in Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science, will use a common "biomaterial" to mimic the brain inside the skull a bowl of Jello gelatin in a clear glass bowl.

Participants in Youth University, a Campus Y program encouraging local middle-school students to begin thinking about college, will visit the lab for demonstrations of how forces on the skull create motion in the brain.

"When you hit the side of the bowl, you see waves in the Jello," she says. "In the lab we put sprinkles top, then put the bowl on a shaker. With the right frequency and a strobe, the waves appear to stand still. If the Jello is stiff, the waves are longer. If it is soft, the waves will be shorter. When they see the waves, it's an 'a-ha' moment. We hope they go away with a better appreciation for how their brain can be injured inside the skull."

Bayly also received a three-year, $395,000 grant from the NSF to measure the mechanical properties and processes that lead to motion in the cilia and flagella. Cilia are tiny eyelash-like hairs in the respiratory system, brain and reproductive system that beat together in a steady rhythm to sweep out bacteria and mucus. However, if the cilia don't work together, don't beat properly or at all, it can lead to a variety of disorders.

Bayly and his colleagues, including Susan Dutcher, PhD, professor of genetics and of cell biology and physiology at the School of Medicine; Jin-Yu Shao, PhD, associate professor of biomedical engineering; and Gang Xu, DSc, a former postdoctoral researcher in Bayly's lab now an assistant professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, will team up to measure the mechanics in genetically modified flagella in algae that are close in structure and behavior to human cilia.

Their findings could lead to a better understanding of cilia and flagella, which will lend new insight
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Contact: Neil Schoenherr
nschoenherr@wustl.edu
314-935-5235
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert

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