Jurassic Park fan grows up to invent brain control!

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When Feng Zhang was twelve years old, he saw the movie Jurassic Park and was so amazed by the dinosaurs that he went on to become a top scientist at Harvard and MIT doing molecular biology and genetics.

830X320-fengzhangAfter seeing Jurassic Park one Saturday as a child and becoming excited about science, his teacher helped him find a volunteer position in a local gene therapy lab. He went there every day in high school after class, and it helped him to develop his interest in biology. He went on to study chemistry and physics at Harvard, to get his foundational knowledge for medicine. One of his latest projects is changing the cells in mice brains to act like the mutations found in human’s brains, so that they can explore how autism acts and try to find a cure. As a graduate student at Stanford, he found ways to insert the genes of light sensitive cells in dark algae into nerve cells, making them able to be controlled by light and lasers. He then used them to control the brains cells of mice that had the special brain cells altered in their genes. After that, Zhang developed a system to easily edit genomes, or genetic codes of organisms, so he can hopefully program them easily to whatever he can imagine.


from Science News

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