FREE WEBINAR SERIES | APRIL 16-JUNE 18, 2020

Frontiers in Bioengineering Research

Organized by the Rice University Department of Bioengineering.

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds across the globe, these unprecedented times have caused the cancellation of in-person seminar series, conferences and workshops that our students would participate in and engage with to enhance their educational goals. Rice Bioengineering has organized this webinar series to help our trainees stay up-to-date with frontiers of bioengineering research and to continue facilitating communication between our students and colleagues. All academics, professionals and students at all levels in the field and related fields are invited to attend.

This weekly series of live 90-minute webinar presentations features invited speakers discussing cutting-edge research currently being performed in the bioengineering field.

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Week 1
Synthetic Biology Approaches for COVID-19 Diagnostics

Thursday, April 16, 3-4:30 p.m. CT

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Jeffrey Tabor

Jeffrey Tabor

Associate Professor, Bioengineering and BioSciences, Rice University

Dr. Tabor engineers living organisms to sense and respond to stimuli in the environment, with applications in medicine, environmental monitoring, bio-manufacturing, and fundamental science. His recent work has focused on harnessing bacterial two-component systems, the largest family of signal transduction pathways in biology, to function as a large new family of genetically-encoded sensors for biotechnology. For example, he is engineering gut bacteria to diagnose and treat diseases, soil and marine bacteria to sense and report the presence of toxins underground and in seawater, and bacteria that deliver therapeutic or immune modulatory molecules to different locations in the body in response to light.

Howard Salis

Howard Salis

Associate Professor, Biological Engineering and Chemical Engineering, Penn State University

Dr. Salis leads a dynamic group conducting cutting edge interdisciplinary and innovative research developing predictive biophysical models and design algorithms to rationally engineer synthetic systems and organisms for synthetic biology and metabolic engineering applications.

Keith Pardee

Keith Pardee

Canada Research Chair, Synthetic Biology and Human Health, University of Toronto

Dr. Pardee and his group are pioneering in vitro devices to host cell-free synthetic gene networks for broad applications in sensing and human health. They have used this approach to create a sterile and abiotic platform for low-cost diagnostics for Ebola and Zika viruses, and have also created a platform for making vaccines in the field.

The “Frontiers in Bioengineering Research” Webinar Series is organized by the Rice University Department of Bioengineering.

Week 2
Immunoengineering and Immunotherapy

Thursday, April 23, 3-4:30 p.m. CT

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Laura Segatori

Laura Segatori

Associate Professor, Bioengineering, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and BioSciences, Rice University

Dr. Segatori's research group develops innovative, system-level strategies based on the integration of synthetic biology, protein engineering, and bionanotechnology to reprogram the cellular quality control system in mammalian cells. The approaches allow for a broader understanding and control over the molecular mechanisms that regulate protein processing for applications ranging from development of cell-based therapies to the production of biologics.

Jeff Molldrem

Jeff Molldrem

Chair, Stem Cell Therapy, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Dr. Molldrem’s research focuses on developing immunotherapies for leukemia and other hematological diseases through an understanding of T-cell immunity against hematopoietic progenitors. His group's central hypothesis is that T-cells target and eliminate these progenitors by recognizing determinants of self-antigens when tolerance has been reversed by aberrant self-antigen expression. As models, they have studied myeloid leukemia and MDS and have found that CD8 lymphocytes recognized the HLA-A2-restricted PR1 peptide, derived from both P3 and NE, due to aberrant subcellular localization and over-expression.

Jenny Jiang

Jenny Jiang

Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering and Oncolog, the University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Jiang and her group use high-throughput sequencing and single-cell analysis in combination with quantitative analysis to explore how the immune system develops and ages, the molecular signatures of autoimmune diseases, and why the immune system tolerates tumors, in order to establish metrics for immune health and providing biomarkers for diagnosis and therapy.

The “Frontiers in Bioengineering Research” Webinar Series is organized by the Rice University Department of Bioengineering.

Week 3
COVID-19 Diagnosis and Critical Care

Thursday, April 30, 3-4:30 p.m. CT

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Rebecca Richards-Kortum

Rebecca Richards-Kortum

Malcolm Gillis University Professor, Professor of Bioengineering, Director, Rice 360° Institute for Global Health, Rice University

Dr. Richards-Kortum’s research and teaching focus on developing low-cost, high-performance technology for low-resource settings. She is known for providing vulnerable populations in the developing world access to life-saving health technology, focusing on diseases and conditions that cause high morbidity and mortality, such as cervical and oral cancer, premature birth, and malaria. Richards-Kortum is also leading a multi-institutional team to develop a package of 17 life-saving neonatal technologies, designed for low-resource settings while providing the same efficacy a related technologies used in North America, but at a fraction of the cost.

Laura Lamb

Laura Lamb

Assistant Professor and Director, Translational Urology Research, Oakland University

Dr. Lamb is an enterprising scientist with over ten years of experience in urology, oncology, cellular and molecular biology, with expertise in cell signaling. She has experience identifying and validating new molecular targets for therapeutic application and biomarker discovery with a diverse background in bladder, prostate, mammary gland, cervix, and skin biology. Dr. Lamb enjoys teaching and mentoring students at all levels as well as educating the public and policymakers on how research and science impact their lives.

Maria Oden

Maria Oden

Full Teaching Professor, Bioengineering, Director, OEDK & Co-Director, Rice 360° Institute for Global Health, Rice University

Dr. Oden has applied her experiences as a senior research associate at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, an instructor at Harvard Medical School, and a faculty member at the UT Health Science Center at Houston, to cultivate and orchestrate award-winning engineering design programs for the students of Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering, Wiess School of Natural Sciences, School of Humanities, and the Rice 360° Institute for Global Health. Dr. Oden collaborates with Rice faculty members to develop and implement engineering design and innovation curriculum programs for undergraduate students.

Matthew Wettergreen

Matthew Wettergreen

Associate Teaching Professor, OEDK, Rice University

Since joining the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen as the first faculty hire in 2013, Dr. Wettergreen co-developed six of the seven engineering design courses in the design curriculum and currently instructs many of these courses, including first-year engineering design and Prototyping and Fabrication. This practical and hands-on course increases student proficiency in the development of prototypes using low fidelity prototyping, iterative design, and advanced manufacturing tools.

The “Frontiers in Bioengineering Research” Webinar Series is organized by the Rice University Department of Bioengineering.

Week 4
Antibody-Based Diagnostics and Therapeutics

Thursday, May 7, 3-4:30 p.m. CT

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Omid Veiseh

Omid Veiseh

Assistant Professor, Bioengineering and CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research, Rice University

Dr. Veiseh’s laboratory utilizes advanced nano, micro, and macro fabrication techniques in combination with molecular engineering and cellular and molecular biology, to develop platforms of implantable devices tailored for in vivo chemical sensing and delivery of therapeutics. The Veiseh laboratory is particularly interested in developing technologies for the improved management of cancer, Type-1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases.

Kaitlyn Sadtler

Kaitlyn Sadtler

Earl Stadtman Investigator; Chief, Section for Immuno-Engineering, NIH National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering

Dr. Sadtler joined NIBIB as an Earl Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator and Chief of the Section for Immunoengineering in 2019. Prior to her arrival to the NIH, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Daniel Anderson, Ph.D. and Robert Langer, Ph.D., focusing on the molecular mechanisms of medical device fibrosis. During her time at MIT, Dr. Sadtler was awarded an NRSA Ruth L Kirschstein Postdoctoral Fellowship, was listed on BioSpace’s 10 Life Science Innovators Under 40 To Watch and StemCell Tech’s Six Immunologists and Science Communicators to Follow.

Andrew Tsourkas

Andrew Tsourkas

Professor, Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Tsourkas leads a group that combines chemistry, nanotechnology, and protein engineering to create novel targeted imaging and therapeutic agents designed to improve the detection and treatment of cancer. Specific research interests include developing new nanoformulations that are capable of carrying extremely high payloads of drugs, sensitizing agents, and/or contrast agents; investigating new disease targeting strategies that maximize specificity and sensitivity; and developing new bioconjugation techniques that enable the highly efficient, site-specific labeling of targeting agents for imaging and therapeutic applications.

The “Frontiers in Bioengineering Research” Webinar Series is organized by the Rice University Department of Bioengineering.

Week 5
Molecular and Cellular Engineering of Therapeutics

Thursday, May 14, 3-4:30 p.m. CT

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George Lu

George Lu

Assistant Professor, Bioengineering and CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research, Rice University

Dr. Lu's Laboratory for Synthetic Macromolecular Assemblies focuses on a class of gas-filled protein nanostructures, and explores their unique material, mechanical and acoustic properties to enable noninvasive imaging and remote control of genetically engineered cells for biomedical research and cell-based therapies.

Yizhou Dong

Yizhou Dong

Associate Professor, Pharmaceutics and Pharmacology, Ohio State University

Dr. Dong and his group's research is devoted to drug discovery and development for the treatment of cancer as well as inherited genetic disorders. They integrate their specialty in pharmaceutics, pharmaceutical chemistry, biomedical engineering, materials formulation, and animal studies to design novel therapeutic medicines and uncover their mechanisms of actions. The ultimate goal is to translate their scientific results and technological inventions into more effective treatment and more fulfilling lives for all individuals.

Peter Wang

Peter Wang

Professor, Bioengineering, UC San Diego

Dr. Wang’s research includes the development of genetically-encoded molecule biosensors based on fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) and the application of these biosensors for the visualization and quantification of molecular signals in live cells with high spatiotemporal resolution under physical/mechanical environment. Dr. Wang is also interested in integrating the cutting-edge technologies in molecular engineering, live cell imaging, and nanotechnology for the engineering of machinery molecules to reprogram cellular functions.

The “Frontiers in Bioengineering Research” Webinar Series is organized by the Rice University Department of Bioengineering.

Week 6
CRISPR-Based Gene Regulation and Genome Editing

Thursday, May 21, 3-4:30 p.m. CT

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Isaac Hilton

Isaac Hilton

Assistant Professor, Bioengineering and Biosciences, and CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research, Rice University

Dr. Hilton and his research team are focused on illuminating fundamental principles of human gene regulation and repurposing these principles to program cellular functions and combat human diseases. To achieve these goals, the Hilton lab develops technologies to precisely manipulate epigenetic signatures, chromatin structure, and transcriptional networks in human cells. The Hilton lab also uses conventional genome editing to redesign genetic sequences and epigenomic activity to model human diseases and build cellular therapeutics.

Charles Gersbach

Charles Gersbach

Rooney Family Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University

Dr. Gersbach's lab is dedicated to applying innovative methods in molecular and genetic engineering to regenerative medicine, treating genetic disease, and enhancing our understanding of fundamental biological processes. Their research aims to develop new technologies to modify genome sequences, epigenomic regulation, and cellular gene networks in a precise and targeted manner.

Gang Bao

Gang Bao

Foyt Family Professor of Bioengineering, Professor of Chemistry, CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research, Associate Dean of Research and Innovation, Rice University

Dr. Bao leads a group whose research is centered on developing nanotechnologies and biomolecular engineering approaches for basic biological studies and medicine, which spans the spectrum from chemical synthesis to small animal studies. Current methodology development includes the superparamagnetic nanoparticle probes, quantum dot bioconjugates, activatable molecular probes and molecular beacons for cellular and in vivo imaging, with applications in disease detection and mechanistic studies.

The “Frontiers in Bioengineering Research” Webinar Series is organized by the Rice University Department of Bioengineering.

Week 7
Molecular Probes for In Vivo Imaging

Thursday, May 28, 3-4:30 p.m. CT

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Gang Bao

Gang Bao

Foyt Family Professor of Bioengineering, Professor of Chemistry, CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research, Associate Dean of Research and Innovation, Rice University

Dr. Bao leads a group whose research is centered on developing nanotechnologies and biomolecular engineering approaches for basic biological studies and medicine, which spans the spectrum from chemical synthesis to small animal studies. Current methodology development includes the superparamagnetic nanoparticle probes, quantum dot bioconjugates, activatable molecular probes and molecular beacons for cellular and in vivo imaging, with applications in disease detection and mechanistic studies.

Katherine Ferrara

Katherine Ferrara

Professor of Radiology, Stanford University

Dr. Ferrara is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the IEEE, American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Biomedical Engineering Society, the Acoustical Society of America and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. Dr. Ferrara received her Ph.D. in 1989 from the University of California, Davis. Following an appointment as an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Dr. Ferrara served as the founding chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at UC Davis. Her laboratory is known for early work in aspects of ultrasonics and has more recently expanded their focus to broadly investigate molecular imaging and drug delivery.

George Lu

George Lu

Assistant Professor, Bioengineering and CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research, Rice University

Dr. Lu's Laboratory for Synthetic Macromolecular Assemblies focuses on a class of gas-filled protein nanostructures, and explores their unique material, mechanical and acoustic properties to enable noninvasive imaging and remote control of genetically engineered cells for biomedical research and cell-based therapies.

The “Frontiers in Bioengineering Research” Webinar Series is organized by the Rice University Department of Bioengineering.

Week 8
Genome Engineering for Epigenetics and Brain Function

Thursday, June 4, 3-4:30 p.m. CT

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Xue Sherry Gao

Sherry Gao

T. N. Law Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Rice University

Dr. Gao’s research program lies at the interface of chemical biology and biomolecular engineering with primary focus on small- and macro-molecule discovery and their applications to human health, agriculture, and energy. One of her main research goals is microbiome-based natural product discovery and engineering, and moreover, to develop enzymes involved in the natural product biosynthesis as powerful biocatalysts for difficult chemical reactions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

Jennifer Phillips-Cremins

Jennifer Phillips-Cremins

Assistant Professor, Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Cremins and her group investigate the link between three-dimensional organization of genomes and the establishment and maintenance of cellular function. We employ molecular Chromosome-Conformation-Capture technologies and high-throughput sequencing to create high-resolution 3-D genome architecture maps. They develop and apply computational tools to create 3-D models of chromatin and integrate 3-D architecture maps with genome-wide maps of epigenetic modifications. The group's current work is focused on understanding the role for higher-order chromatin organization during differentiation of embryonic stem cells into neurons and during reprogramming of somatic cells into induced pluripotent stem cells.

Isaac Hilton

Isaac Hilton

Assistant Professor, Bioengineering and Biosciences, and CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research, Rice University

Dr. Hilton and his research team are focused on illuminating fundamental principles of human gene regulation and repurposing these principles to program cellular functions and combat human diseases. To achieve these goals, the Hilton lab develops technologies to precisely manipulate epigenetic signatures, chromatin structure, and transcriptional networks in human cells. The Hilton lab also uses conventional genome editing to redesign genetic sequences and epigenomic activity to model human diseases and build cellular therapeutics.

The “Frontiers in Bioengineering Research” Webinar Series is organized by the Rice University Department of Bioengineering.

Week 9
Using Machine Learning Approaches to Study Microbial Systems and Develop Antibiotics

Thursday, June 11, 3-4:30 p.m. CT

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Caleb Bashor

Caleb Bashor

Assistant Professor of Bioengineering and BioSciences, Rice University

Caleb Bashor uses approaches in synthetic biology to understand how complex behavior emerges from the properties of components that comprise cellular regulatory networks. His research focus is on engineering synthetic regulatory programs capable of reshaping cellular phenotype, with an eye on developing transformational cell-based therapeutics from engineered human cells. The Bashor Lab utilizes diverse eukaryotic cell types (mammalian immune and stem cells) to learn how to reprogram the complex regulatory circuitry involved in cellular sense and response. His approach uses theory and modelling to guide circuit design, and incorporates DNA assembly, microfluidics, and next-generation sequencing to build and characterize circuit libraries in high-throughput.

Jason Yang

Jason Yang

Assistant Professor and Chancellor Scholar of Microbiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Center for Emerging and Re-Emerging Pathogens, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School

Biological systems are beautifully complex and their nonlinear dynamics mediate the difference between health or disease, treatment success or treatment failure. The Yang Lab seeks fundamental, first-principles understanding into the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of and therapeutic efficacy for chronic and infectious diseases. Dr. Yang and his team leverage advances in systems biology and biomedical data science to drive their discovery of mechanistic insights. They employ quantitative, live-cell, dynamic, high-throughput, and multi-OMIC experimental approaches. The Yang Lab couples these to network modeling, machine learning and bioinformatic analyses. Their research focuses on tuberculosis and heart failure.

Lingchong You

Lingchong You

Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University

The You lab uses a combination of mathematical modeling, machine learning, and quantitative experiments to elucidate principles underlying the dynamics of microbial communities in time and space and to control these dynamics for applications in computation, engineering, and medicine.

The “Frontiers in Bioengineering Research” Webinar Series is organized by the Rice University Department of Bioengineering.

Week 10
Engineering Physiologically Relevant Tissues

Thursday, June 18, 3-4:30 p.m. CT

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Kevin McHugh

Kevin McHugh

Assistant Professor and CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research, Department of Bioengineering, Rice University

Dr. McHugh's research focuses on developing drug delivery platforms and engineering tissues using customized polymers and advanced fabrication methods such as multi-photon 3D printing. His research group leverages the well-characterized behavior of materials and high spatial control of nanoscale fabrication techniques to rationally design systems with highly predictable behavior. Because their work is highly translational in nature, they seek not only to create technologies that improve patient outcomes, but also ensure that they are feasible to implement clinically.

Donald Ingber

Donald Ingber

Director, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University; Department of Surgery and Vascular Biology Program, Harvard Medical School & Boston Children’s Hospital; Harvard University

Donald E. Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., is the Founding Director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and the Vascular Biology Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Professor of Bioengineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He received his B.A., M.A., M.Phil., M.D. and Ph.D. from Yale University.

Ingber is a pioneer in the field of biologically inspired engineering, and at the Wyss Institute, he currently leads a multifaceted effort to develop breakthrough bioinspired technologies to advance healthcare and to improve sustainability. His work has led to major advances in mechanobiology, tumor angiogenesis, tissue engineering, systems biology, nanobiotechnology and translational medicine. Through his work, Ingber also has helped to break down boundaries between science, art and design.

Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic

Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic

The Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University

Dr. Vunjak-Novakovic's Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering is focused on tissue engineering approaches to improving human health. We investigate innovative technologies for engineering human tissues – including bone, cartilage, heart, and lung – by an integrated use of stem cells, biomaterials, and bioreactors. Our long-term goals are to develop effective treatment modalities for regenerative medicine, tissue models for stem cell research and study of disease, and “organs-on-a-chip” platforms for use in precision medicine. We direct the human cell differentiation and assembly into functional tissues using a “cell-instructive” approach based on tissue-specific scaffolds (providing a template for tissue formation) and advanced bioreactors (providing environmental control, molecular and physical signaling).

The “Frontiers in Bioengineering Research” Webinar Series is organized by the Rice University Department of Bioengineering.