Professor Polina Anikeeva’s group draws inspiration from neurobiology to create minimally invasive materials and devices to interface with the nervous system. Professor Anikeeva’s Bioelectronics Group develops multifunctional, multimaterial fibers that enable optical, electrical, and chemical interfaces with neurons in the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral organs. These fiber-based probes empower neuroscience research by permitting recording and manipulation of neural activity. Taking advantage of low conductivity and negligible permeability of biological matter to weak magnetic fields, the research group designs and synthesizes a range of magnetic nanomaterials capable of transducing remote magnetic signals to stimuli perceived by biological receptors. To date, magnetic nanomaterials have enabled magnetothermal, magnetomechanical, and chemomagnetic modulation of neurons in vivo. The technologies developed in the Bioelectronics Group are advancing the fundamental neuroscience of brain-organ communication and paving the way to minimally invasive treatments of neurological and psychiatric conditions.


Polina Anikeeva received her BS in physics from St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University in 2003 and a PhD in materials science and engineering from MIT in 2009. She completed her postdoctoral training at Stanford University, where she created devices for optical stimulation and recording from brain circuits. She joined the MIT faculty in 2011. She serves as the director of the K. Lisa Yang Brain-Body Center at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and is an associate director of the Research Laboratory of Electronics.

Key Publications

In vivo photopharmacology enabled by multifunctional fibers

Developed an approach to deliver light and drugs on demand through a fiber and applied it to control behavior in mice. The experiment paves the way for future clinical applications of photopharmacology, which involves photosensitive molecules that upon illumination bind to receptors to enhance or suppress the activity of certain cells.

To be applicable in vivo and eventually in clinic, photopharmacology needs minimally invasive hardware that can deliver light and drugs simultaneously to the target area. Such a device, especially one suitable for implantation deep in the body, has been lacking.

Targeting therapeutic drugs to a specific body tissue and activating it only as needed could eliminate unwanted side effects from medication taken orally or intravenously.

Awards & Honors

Pioneer Award, High - Risk, High - Reward Research program, National Institutes of Health
MacVicar Faculty Fellowship, MIT
Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science
35 Innovators Under 35, MIT Technology Review
National Science Foundation CAREER Award