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Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Where Science Meets Society


Nerve net
Zeiss LSM 710 Confocal Microscope

Image provided by Jennifer Shepherd, Ralph Nuzzo Lab

Research funded by the W. M. Keck Foundation

The brain is made up of many tiny cells called neurons that communicate with each other through a complicated network of delicate, branching connections. To study those connections more closely, researchers sometimes grow neurons in artificial conditions, but a two-dimensional Petri dish is very different from the three-dimensional scaffold found inside the brain. This image shows a hydrogel substrate created to more closely mimic the natural scaffold of the brain, entwined with the branching outgrowths of developing neurons.