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Amina A. Qutub

Amina QutubAssistant Professor of Bioengineering

Systems Biology Laboratory

Postdoctoral Fellow, Biomedical Engineering,
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (2004-2009)
Ph.D., Bioengineering, University of California, Berkeley/San Francisco (2004)
B.S., Chemical Engineering, cum laude, Rice University (1999)

Bio Sketch

Amina Qutub’s research at Rice University integrates biological systems theory and design to characterize hypoxic response signaling and neurovascular dynamics. Her basic and translational research has applications in leukemia and brain cancer therapy; treatments for brain ischemia and Alzheimer’s disease; and increased understanding of cellular and sub-cellular organization in vascular biology.

Qutub is a principal investigator on a National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI) grant with Rice bioengineering collaborators to build multiscale computer models of blood vessel growth from image-based molecular analyses. Also, through a 2011 Hamill Innovation Award from Rice's Institute for Biosciences and Bioengineering, she is furthering this work through joint research that characterizes the coupling between angiogenic signaling and cyto-mechanical responses. Qutub earned a 2012 NSF Early Career Development (CAREER) award to study neurovasculature formation, integrating computation with experiments to measure and predict patterns in individual cell behavior during angiogenesis. The research, which focuses on cellular developments in the blood-brain barrier, will address unanswered questions about how cell-cell and cell-protein interactions influence one another and combine to form unique microvascular structures. Recent directions in the lab include developing methods to uncover the links between Alzheimer’s disease and vascular aging. In 2013, Qutub received a Simons Foundation Collaboration Grant, and in the same year, she was an invited young investigator at the Frontiers in Bioengineering Workshop.

Prior to joining Rice in 2009, Qutub’s investigations in systems biology to understand hypoxic response and angiogenesis earned her a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Service Research Award from the National Institutes of Health. Under this postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, she worked in Aleksander S. Popel’s group to develop the first molecularly-detailed computational model to test angiogenic therapeutic strategies, targeting the hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF1) pathway. Predictions of the HIF1α hydroxylation model have recently been experimentally observed and shown to shrink cancer tumor growth in vivo. The research has also been noted in several high-caliber peer-reviewed publications.

Qutub has a doctorate degree through the jointly run bioengineering program at the University of California at Berkeley/San Francisco. While in the laboratory of C. Anthony Hunt, professor of biopharmaceutical sciences and pharmaceutical chemistry, she created multiscale systems models to simulate mechanisms underlying neurological conditions and developed new methods in brain drug delivery. The research was supported by a Whitaker Bioengineering Graduate Research Fellowship.

Research Statement

A cell’s response to hypoxia underlies pathologies as diverse as arthritis, ischemia and cancer. It also determines in part how a stem cell differentiates, how neurons age, and how capillary networks grow. Hypoxic response can involve one or all biological levels from the nanoscale to organ systems. What can seem like unfathomable complexity can be approached rigorously through the use of computational systems biology.

To advance hypoxia research and microvasculature studies, investigations in Qutub's Systems Biology Laboratory are based on three research platforms: 1) biological systems modeling theory and design; 2) hypoxic response signaling and 3) neurovascular systems biology.