Together with her Bioelectronics group, Anikeeva develops multifunctional fibers that can deliver electrical, optical, and chemical signals to specified neurons. These flexible probes are also capable of recording neural activity and delivering genes into the brain and spinal cord.
Anikeeva also investigates ways of stimulating neurons wirelessly and with minimal invasiveness, using magnetic fields to activate nanoparticles injected into specific regions of the nervous system.
Anikeeva applies these tools to study brain circuits relevant to motivation, anxiety, social interactions, and to spinal circuits in the context of recovery following injury. The ultimate goal of Anikeeva’s research is to better understand, diagnose, and treat disorders of the nervous system.
A new research direction in the Anikeeva lab focuses on unraveling nervous system pathways between the gut and brain to in order to create improved therapeutic strategies for conditions including Parkinson’s, depression, anxiety and autism spectrum disorders. The lab’s platform of flexible fibers capable of probing and interrogating gut and brain pathways, together with other new physiological and computational approaches, is enabling the team to assess the bidirectional communication between the central nervous system and GI functions, both ex vivo and in vivo. The researchers will use these tools to pursue a mechanistic understanding of circuits, cells, and receptors governing gut-brain communication and develop new approaches that heal the nervous system.
Polina Anikeeva joined the McGovern Institute as an associate investigator in 2018, and is also a professor in the Department of Material Sciences and Engineering. She obtained her PhD at MIT in 2009 and was awarded tenure in 2017. She is a recipient of an NSF CAREER grant and DARPA Young Faculty Award among other fellowships.