Jonathan R. Tomshine, Ph.D., is a chemical engineer whose research interests revolve around the design of electrodes and other sensors used for the real-time in vivo measurement of biomarkers such as neurotransmitter concentration. The ability to safely and effectively measure these biomarkers in real time as a patient goes about his or her daily life will allow for the more accurate delivery of therapies such as deep brain stimulation (DBS), thereby maximizing the effectiveness of the therapy and minimizing the occurrence of undesirable side effects.
- Design of synthetic diamond-based neural electrodes for fast-scan cyclic voltammetry. Engineering of the electrode itself as well as the manufacturing techniques necessary to construct high-quality, manufacturable films of synthetic, electrically conductive diamond.
- Chemical vapor deposition as a means of growing synthetic polycrystalline diamond films.
- Development of fast-scan cyclic voltammetry as an analytical technique for the determination of concentrations of biomarkers of interest, particularly neurotransmitters such as dopamine, adenosine and serotonin.
- Electrical, chemical, physical and optical characterization and metrology of material surface properties.
Significance to patient care
The current generation of DBS implants has no way of directly measuring correct stimulation dosing. Dr. Tomshine's studies support the development of an electrode that can measure neurotransmitter concentration in the brain. Eventually, a DBS implant may be able to sense whether more or less stimulation is required and can subsequently adjust the stimulation intensity. This will ensure that sufficient, but not excessive, stimulation is applied to suppress tremors.
Presently, DBS is used primarily for the treatment of Parkinson's disease and other tremor disorders. Dr. Tomshine and colleagues anticipate better control of stimulation will likely open up the possibility of DBS treatment for new neurological and psychiatric disorders.