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2021 Fellow

Rebecca Pinals

PhD Institution
University of California, Berkeley
Postdoctoral institution and lab

Tsai Lab, MIT

Rebecca is a chemical engineer that develops nanotechnologies to probe biological systems. During her PhD, she investigated the fundamental interactions between engineered nanotechnologies and the complex biological environments they are intended to function in. Her research has helped to create more robust nanosensors for uses such as monitoring dopamine in the brain and detecting SARS-CoV-2.

As a Schmidt Science Fellow working with Professor Li-Huei Tsai at MIT, Rebecca is pivoting into neuroscience and plans to use her nanoscale tools to understand the molecular mechanisms driving Alzheimer’s Disease. She aims to develop novel nanosensors that target key Alzheimer’s Disease biomarkers and to integrate these nanosensors into brain models that correctly recapitulate the human disease. In turn, the readouts from these nanosensors will provide the requisite spatial, temporal, and chemical details to understand Alzheimer’s Disease onset and progression.

Taking an interdisciplinary approach to explore the extraordinarily complex neurodegenerating brain will be critical to tackle this disease. Rebecca envisions that a dynamic and molecular view of the underlying drivers of Alzheimer’s Disease will lead to innovations in developing impactful treatment strategies and ultimately, a cure. Through her research, Rebecca aspires to pioneer the implementation of real-time sensors together with human brain models that will transform the way in which we understand and treat neurodegenerative diseases.