What's Happening Now
CRN Co-sponsors Kidney Symposium
On April 22, 2013, scientists from Finland, Canada, and New Mexico joined colleagues at Northwestern to discuss kidney regeneration. The meeting focused on innovative approaches to kidney creation using tissue engineering and a patient’s own cells. This strategy could avoid the wait for kidney donations and revolutionize treatment for transplant patients. The symposium titled “Building a Kidney: From Stem Cells to Organ,” was sponsored by the Simpson-Querrey Center for Regenerative Nanomedicine at IBNAM, Northwestern University, and Cellular Dynamics International
Press | Northwestern
IBNAM is accepting applications for the 2013-14 IBNAM-Baxter Early Career Development Award Program. The application deadline is April 30. This two-year fellowship program supports early career scientists in the field of bioengineering who work on interdisciplinary research dedicated to accelerating medical discovery and breeding scientific collaboration in clinical medicine, engineering, physical sciences, and life sciences.
Learn about the projects of our current recipients, Timothy Merkel and Julia Ortony.
GETTING A GRIP
Medical Applications for Messersmith’s Biocompatible Adhesives
At the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Boston, Phillip Messersmith reported on potential medical applications of the mussel-inspired adhesives developed by his research team. These synthetic polymers, coated with the amino acid dihydroxyphenylalanine, or DOPA, have the remarkable ability to bond under wet conditions, mimicking the way mussels stick to wet slippery surfaces. Messersmith’s extraordinary glues have recently proven effective as a surgical sealant in repairing damaged arteries and fetal membranes. This is exciting news for surgeons whose work could someday be revolutionized by Messersmith’s glue.
Messersmith will also receive the Clemson Award for Basic Research at the Society for Biomaterials Annual Meeting in Boston, April 10-13, 2013. The award honors Messersmith’s contributions to the basic knowledge and understanding of the interaction of materials with tissue. Clemson Awardees must have a significant research record, including important original publications in the literature and frequent reference to and reliance on this work by subsequent researchers.
Struck Gold Nanoparticles
Thaxton Works on Non-toxic Treatment for Lymphoma
In a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences C. Shad Thaxton, assistant professor of urology, and his collaborator Leo Gordon, professor of medicine, report that a particular nanoparticle Thaxton initially developed for heart disease might be the ultimate multi-tasker. Thaxton’s HDL nanoparticles remove cholesterol from B cell lymphoma cells and also prevent them from taking in more cholesterol, which essentially ends the cell’s life. This is all enabled by the particle's gold core. Since the cancerous lymphoma cell thrives on natural HDL, this characteristic has the possibility to aid in lymphoma treatment without the use of chemotherapy. Initial data show that other normal human cells, also targeted by HDL, are unharmed.
STUPP recognizED BY THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY
Award Symposium to be Organized in his Honor
Samuel Stupp will receive the 2013 American Chemical Society (ACS) Ronald Breslow Award for Achievement in Biomimetic Chemistry. This award acknowledges his accomplishments in developing highly bioactive supramolecular structures using synthetic molecules that mimic the architecture of extracellular matrices and signal cells to promote tissue regeneration. The Ronald Breslow Award Endowment was established in honor of the world-renowned chemist to identify achievements in chemistry of synthetic molecules and other complex structures that emulate biological processes. The awards ceremony will be held at the ACS Spring Meeting in New Orleans this coming April.
MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH IN BIONANOTECHNOLOGY
Shea and Miller Deliver a Payload to Fight Multiple Sclerosis
A new publication in Nature Biotechnology reports on antigen-decorated nanoparticles developed by Lonnie Shea’s laboratory that have the potential to stop the disease process in autoimmunity. Shea’s collaboration with Stephen Miller’s group focuses on delivering an antigen to stop the immune system’s attack on myelin, a breakthrough in halting a model of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) in mice. While preventing attacks on the myelin membrane, their approach does not affect other functions of the normal immune system and may be applicable in treating other diseases.
STENTING ARTERIES TAKES ON A NEW FORM
Liquid Stents Developed as an Alternative to Metal in Arterial Stent Placement
A recent article in FSM Researcher highlights the translational work of Melina Kibbe and Guillermo Ameer in developing a liquid stent. Approaching the problem from different perspectives – surgery and bioengineering – the pair discussed the complications of stenting arteries with metal. Those exchanges led them to consider the idea of using liquid stents as a viable option. They began their project by using a flexible elastomeric material with a specialized catheter and developed a biodegradable liquid polymer. This polymer was created from materials invented in Ameer’s laboratory and it can be customized for several biomedical purposes. Preliminary studies using synthetic arteries as well as pig arteries have been successful. Kibbe and Ameer plan to move on to animal models in a few months.
PARADIGM-SHIFTING CANCER RESEARCH
Shea and Backman Receive NIH Support for Innovative Collaboration
Lonnie Shea and his co-principal investigator Vadim Backman received the 2012 NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award to develop new technology for detecting and intervening in early stage cancer metastasis. Shea will adapt his tissue engineering techniques to develop a new biomaterial implant designed to attract metastatic cancer cells and Backman’s non-invasive imaging technologies will be adapted to sense and monitor the cell growth.
The NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award is designed to support high-risk interdisciplinary projects that can take research in new directions and deliver high rewards to improve health.
Press | Northwestern
Thaxton Receives Early Career Presidential Award
Cited for Innovative Work with Potential to Treat Heart Disease and Cancer
IBNAM faculty member C. Shad Thaxton was awarded the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor given by the United States government to exceptional scientists and researchers during the initial stages of their research careers. PECASE recipients are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.
Nominated by the Department of Defense, Thaxton, an assistant professor of urology, was recognized for his work on next-generation therapeutic nanoparticles. His research team is developing a method of synthesizing nanoparticles, which mimic naturally occurring nanoparticles in the body, specifically high-density lipoproteins (HDLs). By manipulating these nanoparticles, Thaxton’s lab hopes to discover effective therapies and drug delivery vehicles for diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Thaxton is one of three Northwestern University faculty members to receive the award this year. The awards ceremony was held on July 31st at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C.
Querrey Simpson Charitable Foundation gift to IBNAM
$10 Million for New Research in Regenerative Nanomedicine
The Querrey Simpson Charitable Foundation entered into an agreement with Northwestern University to endow the new Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Center for Regenerative Nanomedicine as part of the Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine. Simpson, a Northwestern University Life Trustee, and Querrey, President of SQ Advisors, LLC, have been inspired by Samuel Stupp’s work and they established the endowment to support his efforts in advancing Northwestern’s leadership position in regenerative nanomedicine.
The Center’s mission is to foster the early development of new research in regenerative medicine using nanotechnology strategies. Overall the Center will focus on bold new ideas in this area of research and use its resources to catalyze external funding, help establish strategic collaborations in this area, and improve experimental capabilities at IBNAM.
We are thrilled and honored to receive this generous gift and the backing of Lou Simpson and Kimberly Querrey.
Stupp elected to the Spanish Royal Academy of Pharmacy
Delivered Inaugural Address at International Symposium
Samuel I. Stupp was elected to the Spanish Royal Academy of Pharmacy in Madrid. The induction ceremony was part of the international symposium on Drugs, Nanomedicine and Biomaterials: a common objective held on April 24-25 where Stupp delivered an inaugural address on “Nanomedicine for Regeneration and Pharmacology.” Ruth Duncan of Cardiff University in Wales and Nicholas A. Peppas of the University of Texas at Austin were also inducted at the meeting which was sponsored by the Ramón Areces Foundation, a privately-funded non-profit institution that fosters science through research and contributes to the generation of human capital and dissemination of knowledge in three specific areas: Life and Materials Sciences, Social Sciences, and Humanities.
The Spanish Royal Academy of Pharmacy, established in 1737 by King Philip V, is one of the Royal Academies of the Institute of Spain under the reigning King of Spain, Juan Carlos I. The Academy is composed of 50 academicians and 173 corresponding academicians worldwide, who represent excellence and the highest scientific and intellectual merit in the field.
Messersmith's Research Featured on WBEZ 91.5
Phillip Messersmith, professor of biomedical engineering, was interviewed by Gabriel Spitzer, host of WBEZ 91.5 "Clever Apes," to explain how mussel adhesive protein mimetics work. The public radio show focuses on the scientific community in Chicago and explores creative research being performed and the people behind the ideas. Messersmith is creating a stronger medical adhesive by using an organic material secreted by the blue mussel. Properties of this particular material could aid surgeons in tissue repair and prove less toxic than what is currently used. Devin Barrett, an IBNAM-Baxter postdoctoral fellow in the Messersmith lab, demonstrated how their synthetic material adheres to a tissue replica.
National Academy of Engineering Election
Stupp Honored for Work on Self-assembled Polymers for Biomedical Applications
Samuel I. Stupp, Board of Trustees Professor of Materials Science, Chemistry, and Medicine and Director of the Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine, was added to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) membership roster for 2012. The organization recognized Stupp for advances in processes of self-assembled polymers for biomedical applications.
Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to "engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature," and to the "pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education."
Biomaterials Science: A New Scientific Journal
Messersmith Named an Editor-in-Chief
Phillip Messersmith, professor of biomedical engineering, has been named an Editor-in-Chief of the new journal, Biomaterials Science. The new publication is a joint venture of the Royal Society of Chemistry in the United Kingdom and Kyoto University's Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) in Japan. This international journal focuses on material science, biology, chemistry, and biophysics and is aimed at bringing together the molecular and mesoscopic interactions of biomaterials and their prospective applications.
Highlight in Science
Innovative Fibers May Help Conquer Worldwide Concerns
Performance and cost are among the major issues in developing answers to improvements in healthcare and sustainable energy resources. In Science Samuel Stupp, Takuzo Aida (professor of chemistry at the University of Tokyo), and E.W. Meijer (professor of biomedical engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology) define their years of research in functional supramolecular polymers and how these rationally designed systems can contribute to advancements in the areas of medicine, energy, and the environment. Supramolecular chemistry offers economical advantages in creating functional materials to resolve global issues. These scientists are optimistic their work can address long-standing challenges such as developing synthetic materials with structure and bioactivity to repair native tissues, designing tunable plastics to make cars stronger and lighter, as well as enabling electronic circuits to become flexible and consume less power.
Ramille Shah honored by Association of Women in Science
Role Model in the Lab and Scientific Community
The Chicago Chapter of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) profiled Ramille N. Shah as the October 2011 Scientist of the Month. Shah’s research group is based at IBNAM where they develop soy-based biomaterials, create scaffolds from hybrid biomaterials, and explore mechanical and ultrasonic stimulation of cells in scaffolding systems with the goal of regenerating musculoskeletal tissues such as cartilage, bone, meniscus, tendon, and ligament. Learn about Shah’s career path, research interests, and her leadership role in Chicago’s research scene.
Shah will participate in an AWIS Chicago panel discussion on November 1 to share insights on career paths for women scientists.
IBNAM APPOINTS DEPUTY DIRECTOR
Melina Kibbe Steps into New Leadership Role
Melina R. Kibbe, MD, associate professor of surgery in the Division of Vascular Surgery at Feinberg School of Medicine (FSM), will serve as the first Deputy Director of the Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine (IBNAM). Kibbe has been a resident member of the Institute since 2006 and she has spawned many important research collaborations with other IBNAM members. In this key leadership role Kibbe will work closely with IBNAM Director, Samuel I. Stupp, Board of Trustees Professor of Materials Science, Chemistry, and Medicine, on strategic initiatives that will influence the Institute’s future development. In particular, she will help develop new programs designed to foster connections between Feinberg faculty, key collaborators at IBNAM, and other faculty based on the Evanston campus.
Blood vessels by design
Stupp and Losordo Collaboration
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that researchers from IBNAM and the Feinberg Cardiovascular Research Institute have developed and tested in vivo a nanostructure that promotes growth of new blood vessels and shows promise as a therapy to increase blood flow to oxygen-deprived tissue. Samuel Stupp's group designed the nanomaterial that mimics the protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The nanomaterial induces the biological effect of VEGF to signal processes in cells that lead to blood vessel growth, and it exhibited the added advantages of remaining in the tissue longer and having greater potency than VEGF. In vivo tests in an animal model of peripheral arterial disease performed in the Losordo laboratory demonstrated that the nanofiber was effective in increasing blood flow. This project was launched by an IBNAM/Baxter Incubator Award and nanomaterials were produced by the IBNAM Peptide Synthesis Core Facility.
Creating Cell-like Microcapsules
Work Done at IBNAM and NUANCE Facilities
Peptide amphiphiles and oppositely charged polymers can self-assemble into highly organized membranes at the interface of two aqueous solutions. In Angewandte Chemie International Edition Dorota Rozkiewicz, Ben Myers, and Samuel Stupp reported how the biopolymer was sprayed into a peptide amphiphile solution to template the formation of cell-like microcapsules. Highlighted as the cover of the week, the cover image shows SEM micrographs of a group of filamentous microcapsules, a single capsule (blue), the surface nanofilaments (yellow), and a membrane cross section (sepia).
IBNAM-Baxter Early Career Development Award recipients for 2010 begin their postdoctoral fellowships at IBNAM. Devin Barrett will explore new clinical applications for mussel-inspired adhesives as Stephanie Seidlits investigates ways to optimize neural cell development.