Dr. Naweed Syed has made the brain come to life on a microchip.

He and a University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine team of eight, in collaboration with the National Research Council, have developed a silicon chip that monitors the subtle signals of living individual brain cells and keeps them alive for up at least two days.

Only snail brain cells have been used, but in a couple months, Syed will target cells from epileptic patients. “We want to get the seizure-causing tissue removed in surgery, test the impact of drugs on those cells, and find a better drug for the patient,” he explained.

Once the process is fully automated hundreds of cells could be tested simultaneously.