Noah Okada

MIT Department: Health Sciences and Technology
Faculty Mentor: Prof. Mercedes Balcells-Camps
Undergraduate Institution: Emory University
Website: LinkedIn
Research Poster
Lightning Talk



I was born in Osaka, Japan, and have since spent my life living in many cities across both Japan and the United States. I currently attend Emory University, where I am double majoring in neuroscience and computer science. I have a keen interest in the interdisciplinary approach to understanding memory, cognition, and computation. I am particularly interested in how extended reality technologies can be partnered with artificial intelligence to develop memory and learning paradigms that challenge our understanding of neuropsychological disorders. I plan to pursue a career in neuropsychology where I hope to conduct research at the intersection of computation and cognition. My hobbies include cycling, wrestling, dancing, and 3D design.


2021 Abstract


The Effects of Inflammation on the Brain Microvascular Endothelium

Noah Okada3,4, Héctor Cantú Bueno5, Gemma Molins1,
Mercedes Balcells-Camps1,2
1Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, Massachusetts
Institute of Technology
2Department of Biological Engineering, IQS School of Engineering
3Department of Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology, Emory University
4Department of Computer Science, Emory University
5Department of Computer Science and Molecular Biology, Massachusetts
Institute of Technology

There is an increasing amount of evidence correlating vascular dysfunctions with the development of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other neurodegenerative disorders. Research suggests that cerebrovascular dysfunctions lead to disruptions of neurovascular structures such as the blood-brain barrier (BBB) which contribute to the disease progression of these disorders. Understanding the factors that contribute to the breakdown of the BBB will help to facilitate the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions. Our research sought to establish an in-vitro model of the BBB using human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HBMVEC) to understand how inflammation can contribute to the disruption of the BBB. This study examined the effects of inflammation and hypoxia on HBMVECs cultured in static conditions. By culturing HBMVECs in the presence of CoCl2 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) we collected detailed data on cell growth, viability, and protein expression under varying conditions of biological stress. Understanding the effect of inflammation under these conditions provides a unique and ecologically valid model of the compounded effects of stress on the BBB. These findings will pave a path for future research to understand how the onset and progression of neurodegenerative disorders can be influenced by chronic inflammation in the brain.