Nanotechnology-Enabled Biology

This is a past event.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018, 11 am– 12 pm

This is a past event.

Using Materials to Orchestrate Wound Repair

Materials Science and Engineering Seminar

Dr. Ben Almquist
Department of Bioengineering
Imperial College London, UK

Abstract: Recent advances in nanoscience have enabled us to create materials and devices that interact with biological systems across every relevant length scale, whether at the level of individual proteins or hierarchical tissues. However, biological systems such as tissues integrate transient biological signalling to drive growth and repair. Therefore, to create seamless biotic- abiotic interfaces between tissues and engineered materials, there is a need for new methods that enable us to direct biological influence over time. In this talk, I will explore how we can begin the blur the interfaces between synthetic devices and biological systems by rationally engineering the interaction, both spatially and temporally. By combining aspects of materials science, nanotechnology, and self-assembly, we are now able to design ‘smart’ materials that control and coordinate the temporal delivery of biomolecules, both from 2D surfaces and within 3D matrices, enabling new possibilities for both in vitro cell cultures and in vivo environments. Specifically, I will cover our approaches for controlling the delivery of growth factors in 3D using DNA nanotechnology, temporally coordinating the transient knockdown of multiple genes via self-assembled biomaterials, and efforts using nanodevices to elucidate fundamental biological principals regarding the role of microRNAs, small non-coding RNAs implicated in a range of diseases, in promoting pathological cell signalling.

Bio: Dr Almquist received his BS in Materials Science & Engineering from Michigan Tech in 2004, followed by an MS and PhD in Materials Science & Engineering from Stanford University in 2007 and 2011, respectively. During his time at Stanford, Dr Almquist pioneered the development of bioinspired nanoprobes that enable the fusion of silicon-based devices into cellular membranes. This research led to his appointment as a Research Fellow in the joint NSF-Stanford-IBM Center for Probing the Nanoscale, along with being awarded the Materials Research Society Graduate Student Gold Award. Following his time at Stanford, Dr Almquist moved to the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies at MIT, where as an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein Postdoctoral Fellow he developed self-assembled biomaterials for combinatorial biologic delivery to chronic wounds. In 2014, he moved to Imperial College London as a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in the Department of Bioengineering, where his group is pushing the development of nanomaterial-based approaches for addressing longstanding questions across the biosciences. This work has led to Dr Almquist being recognised as a 2017 Emerging Investigator in the journal Biomaterials Science, along with receiving the 2016 Outstanding Young Alumni Award from Michigan Tech. In addition to his research, Dr Almquist has a passion for teaching and has been recognised as a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK.

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