Synthesis of Optical Materials for Bioapplications: Research, Education, Recruitment and Outreach (SOMBRERO) is a binational research effort lead by Dr. Santiago Camacho-López at CICESE (México) and Dr. Guillermo Aguilar at UCR (USA). This research project was granted (end of 2015) five year funding by NSF and CONACyT through the Partnership for International Research and Education (PIRE) program. This international research initiative is focused to developing the so-called Windows to the Brain (WttB) concept.
Literally, a window to brain, with integrated waveguide structures and fiber optics. A platform for non-invasive optical interrogation of neurological tissues; the platform incorporates an optically-transparent ceramic to replace regions of the skull with a cranial implant to deliver and/or collect light from the brain over large areas, on demand, and repeatedly as needed without additional craniotomies. The motivation for creating this implant lies in its transformative potential for: a) facilitating the study (via optogenetics and other optically-based techniques) of neural circuits that underlie behavior and cognition; and b) enabling laser-based diagnostics and therapy for neurological disorders and brain pathologies. Successful research outcomes will generate components of a critically-enabling neurotechnology platform. The education, recruitment and outreach objectives of SOMBRERO are to recruit and train graduate (GR), undergraduate (UG), and postdoctoral (PD) researchers in an international, interdisciplinary context.