What's Happening Now
Dounia Dems Joins SQI
2017 Fulbright Scholar from ESPCI ParisTech
SQI welcomes Fulbright Scholar Dounia Dems, a PhD candidate from the Laboratory of Condensed Matter Chemistry of Paris, who will work in the Stupp Group through June 2017. Dems will collaborate with Drs. Ronit Freeman and Zaida Alvarez Pinto to develop a bioactive scaffold based on collagen, peptide amphiphiles, and silica nanoparticles for peripheral nerve regeneration. This is Dems’ second period of residence at SQI; she visited in 2014 and worked on a project to develop DNA-peptide amphiphile hybrid materials.
Since 2015, Dems has conducted research under Dr. Florance Babonneau, focusing on multifunctional particles for the design of innovating biomaterials. She holds master’s degrees in materials chemistry from Pierre and Marie Curie University and in physics, chemistry, and biology from The City of Paris Industrial Physics and Chemistry Higher Educational Institution.
The Fulbright Program provides competitive, merit-based exchange scholarships for international students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists, and artists. United States Senator J. William Fulbright founded the program in 1946.
Wearable devices blur line between biology & electronics
John Rogers’ flexible electronics allow health monitoring from the inside out
When a team of neurologists approached John Rogers about using his work on flexible electronic systems to develop a new generation of health monitoring devices, a light bulb went off.
“We had never thought about that…The idea of taking rigid, integrated circuit technology and reformulating it – from the bottom up – to allow it to softly wrap around the surface of the brain, meld onto the skin, or form around a beating heart – nobody was doing that. That’s where we saw an opportunity.”
The stability of his devices and their intimate interface with the human body has opened up new monitoring capabilities and increases the accuracy of medical data. Unlike traditional hospital instruments, Rogers’ small, flexible devices can harvest energy from organs, wirelessly monitor biological processes, and even automatically treat certain medical conditions. Lurie Children’s Hospital is currently testing his most recent invention, a wireless, battery free, temporary “tattoo” used to monitor the vital signs of premature infants in a gentler way than has previously been possible.
Rogers’ work doesn’t just have implications for medicine and materials science, but for the larger relationship between human beings and technology. As he puts it, “Moving beyond rigid, point-contact electrodes…[is] blurring the boundaries between biology and electronics.”
Science Magazine Editor Visits Northwestern
Spoke of the changing scientific publishing landscape
November 10, 2016: On the Evanston campus Phillip Szuromi presented an overview of how papers get published at Science. The Science editors not only direct the peer review process but also stay informed about their fields and identify emerging fields. He commented on the changing scientific publishing landscape and recapped some recent initiatives to uphold high standards of author and referee conduct.
As part of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a nonprofit organization, the goal of Science Magazine is to ensure that the impact of research published in the journal has benefit to society. The journal also tries to advance a general appreciation for the value of thinking scientifically about the many challenges our world now faces.
Press | Northwestern
SQI FEATURED AT NU LEADERSHIP SYMPOSIUM
Cutting-Edge Research that will Benefit Society
According to founding director Samuel Stupp, the Board of Trustees Professor of Materials Science, Chemistry, Medicine, and Biomedical Engineering, the Simpson Querrey Institute for BioNanotechnology (SQI) was created to do nothing less than revolutionize regenerative medicine.
Speaking to an audience at Northwestern University’s 2016 Leadership Symposium, he explained, “We wanted to expand biomedical engineering beyond thinking about traditional medical devices to the nanoscale or molecular level…to generate new fields of science.” By reaching out to colleagues in the basic sciences, engineering, and medicine and inviting them to form interdisciplinary teams, SQI pioneered a new approach to addressing big questions not just in regenerative medicine, but also in medical technology and in energy sciences. This model has since been emulated around the world, driving new innovations aimed at solving society’s most pressing problems.
The freedom to take risks, the opportunity to collaborate, and the focus on practical application in the service of human health and wellness has drawn some of the best minds in a host of fields to SQI. In conjunction with Stupp, a panel of the Simpson Querrey Institute’s esteemed researchers spoke passionately about their work and their ties to the Institute and Northwestern University.
“At SQI, there’s a real focus on interdisciplinary research and collaboration, as well as translation from the lab to a clinical setting…For me, it’s about having an impact on people, on their quality of life,” said Ramille Shah, Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Surgery, and Biomedical Engineering, as she described her ongoing work in the development of 3D printing compatible biomaterials. John Rogers, the Louis Simpson and Kimberly Querrey Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Medicine and the founding director of the new Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics, echoed the importance of purposeful research designed to improve human life. Calling SQI a “nexus of leaders and experts”, he joked, “I had planned to go to California, but obviously, that didn’t happen, mainly because I saw a better opportunity here at Northwestern and SQI. I was attracted by the uniqueness of the environment, the focus on interdisciplinary bioscience…and the immediacy of funding to address real-world problems.””
Originally interested in developing improved surgical techniques and medical devices for addressing vascular problems, Guillermo Ameer, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Surgery, has expanded his research interests to include targeted cancer therapies and bone regeneration as a result of his work at SQI. “The ability to collaborate with surgeons has been a highlight and pivotal to furthering the practical applications of my work,” he said. Dr. Jason Wertheim, Assistant Professor of Surgery agreed, stressing the importance of cross-disciplinary collaboration in his work on improving organ function at the cellular level and developing synthetic organs to address the drastically unmet need for organ replacement surgery. He also applauded SQI’s welcoming atmosphere, saying, “I came because of open doors…Mentorship was easy to find and people are eager to collaborate.”
For Dr. Shad Thaxton, Associate Professor of Urology, SQI’s open doors were both the reason he joined the Institute and the reason he stays. “Sam gave me the space to open my lab, and I’ve never left. I caught the nanotech bug early. In addition to focusing on diseases pertinent to Urology, I’d always been interested in working on therapies for heart disease…Now, I’m working on ways to synthesize the molecules that carry good cholesterol throughout the body, and we’re finding applications in heart disease and cancer.”
In his closing remarks, Professor Stupp stressed the importance of public awareness and continued funding for SQI’s groundbreaking research. “Volunteers like you are crucial to getting information out about what we’re doing and enabling us to recruit the best faculty, fund research projects, and expand lab space…We don’t know what the future will bring, but [we know] the Simpson Querrey Institute will continue to be at the forefront of important developments in regenerative medicine.”
SQI researchers break new ground in bone regeneration
Shah TEAM Lab and Hsu Lab develop 3D printable ink for bone implants
3D printed bone implants are one step closer to becoming a reality, thanks to the groundbreaking research of the Shah TEAM Lab and the Hsu Lab at the Simpson Querrey Institute for BioNanotechnology.
Earlier this month, Dr. Ramille Shah, Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Surgery, and Biomedical Engineering and Adam E. Jakus, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at the Simpson Querrey Institute for BioNanotechnology announced the successful development of a new type of ink that can be used to print “hyper-elastic” bone replacements. The biomaterial is a mix of hydroxyapatite and a biocompatible, biodegradable polymer that is used in many medical applications, including sutures. Initial animal tests look promising; after just four weeks, an implant placed in a monkey’s skull had fully healed, fusing with the existing bone, and those placed in mice were rapidly integrated by the rest of the body, allowing blood vessels and cells to grow on and through them.
The material’s composition makes the synthetic bone easily customizable and quick and inexpensive to produce, which could significantly impact the treatment of bone defects in children and in people living in developing nations around the world. "It's purely synthetic, very cheap and very easy to make," Adam Jakus said, speaking to Reuters. "It can be packaged, shipped and stored very nicely." According to Dr. Shah, “The sky’s the limit for this material’s applications.”
Publication| Science Magazine
SQI STAFF RECOGNIZED FOR OUTSTANDING WORK
Leadership and Teamwork on Two Creative Projects
Mark McClendon, Research Associate and Translational Research Officer, and Maura Walsh, Administrative Assistant and Assistant to the Director, received 2016 Service Excellence Awards for their leading roles in designing and producing two creative projects that highlight research conducted at SQI.
They designed and installed the “SQI Gallery” which puts scientific images on display in the institute’s main office. They also collaborated on a creative design for SQI’s new brochure. This was not a simple pamphlet type brochure, and it was a challenging project. Mark gathered dozens of amazing images for the project and he personally created several images we used in the brochure – including the cover image. Maura designed the creative brochure layout and worked with a printer who could produce the unique enclosure design. Both gathered information, drafted text, and met a very tight production schedule. For demonstrating leadership and effective teamwork on these creative projects Mark and Maura were honored at the Service Excellence Awards Luncheon held in July.
Samuel Stupp Presented with Prestigious Chemistry Award
For Work on Bioactive Supramolecular Materials in Regenerative Medicine
Samuel I. Stupp, Director of the Simpson Querrey Institute for BioNanotechnology, has been honored with the Soft Matter and Biophysical Chemistry Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry. Stupp’s research focuses on the design of supramolecular materials that can signal cells and be used in novel therapies for regenerative medicine. Progress has led to the development of materials that mimic the natural structures that surround cells in the human body and activate the necessary signals to initiate the growth of tissues and organs. This award recognizes Stupp’s fundamental contributions to the science of supramolecular soft matter and demonstrating its value to control biophysical interactions with mammalian cells.
“I am absolutely flattered and delighted to receive this honor from the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Faraday Division recognizing our work on bioactive supramolecular soft matter” said Professor Stupp. “The development of these soft biomaterials is extremely important to future therapies in regenerative medicine and many other disease therapies involving delivery of macromolecular drugs such as proteins and antibodies. The research has required convergence of chemistry, biology, materials science, and medicine.”
The Soft Matter and Biophysical Chemistry Award honors outstanding and innovative research in soft condensed matter and the application of physico-chemical techniques to biological problems. As a result of this award, Stupp will receive a medal during the award symposium and undertake a lecture tour in the U.K.
The Royal Society of Chemistry, based in the United Kingdom, is the largest organization in Europe dedicated to advancing the chemical sciences.
Stupp inducted into AIMBE College of Fellows
Recognized for developing supramolecular biomaterials for regenerative medicine
The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has honored Samuel Stupp for his leading role in developing functional materials using supramolecular chemistry. Stupp has created a large family of molecules known as peptide amphiphiles, that self-assemble into nanofibers that can mimic extracellular matrices and display very high concentrations of biological signals.
Major achievements associated with this platform include the regeneration of spinal cord axons in after injury, the unprecedented selective and rapid differentiation of neural stem cells into neurons, angiogenesis in muscle with bioactive signals leading to reperfusion of the ischemic hind limb, and functional improvement of heart muscle after myocardial infarction. The body of work also includes bone spinal fusion with a low dose of growth factors and formation of enamel in embryonic incisor teeth. Materials for bone regeneration are currently in development for clinical trials. Composed of only amino acids and fatty acids, these materials are broken down in vivo into highly biocompatible components. Alternatively, bioactivity can also be introduced into the nanostructures, including functionalization small molecule drugs, organometallic complexes for imaging with MRI, and fluorophores for detection in tissues.
Stupp has also demonstrated the possibility of creating materials in which the bioactive filaments can be integrated with cells and organized over macroscopic distances, mimicking the organization of tissues such as the brain, the spinal cord, skeletal muscle, and the heart. Stupp’s work on bioactive soft matter has inspired academic as well as industrial development of conceptually similar materials for regenerative medicine.
Stupp will be elected to fellow status on April 4, 2016, as part of AIMBE’s 25th Annual Meeting at the National Academy of Sciences Great Hall in Washington, D.C. In total, 155 scientists will make up the AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 2016.
Stupp Creates Novel Covalent/Noncovalent Hybrid Polymer
Hybrid regeneration could inspire new materials for drug delivery, energy storage
In the January 29, 2016 issue of Science, Samuel I. Stupp and George C. Schatz reported on a novel hybrid polymer based on two distinct compartments within a single nanofiber. These two compartments, one that is a covalent and one that is supramolecular, can be reversibly separated and subsequently reconstituted. Computer simulations of the system showed the supramolecular and covalent compartments are integrated through reversible beta-sheet hydrogen bonds.
This type of hybrid structure could inspire new types of functional and adaptive materials that have the potential be regenerated in situ. For example, these studies may suggest ways to design materials with the ability to self-repair or for catalysis, energy storage, or drug delivery.
Article | Science
Press | Northwestern
Evan Scott Receives $1.5 Million NIH New Innovator Award
New immunotherapies to treat cardiovascular disease
SQI resident member, Evan Scott, received a New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These awards support exceptionally creative new investigators who propose highly innovative projects that have great potential for unusually high impact. Scott, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, will receive $1.5 million over five years to support his project, Development of Combination Immunotherapies for Atherosclerotic Inflammation.
“I am extremely honored to have received such a prestigious award that promotes novel high-risk, high-reward biomedical research,” Scott said. “It is especially encouraging to have the support of the NIH as my lab explores unique nanotechnology-based immunotherapies for the treatment of heart disease.”
The New Innovator Award Program, founded in 2007, is unlike traditional NIH funding mechanisms. The emphasis is on funding creative new investigators at the early career stage and innovative ideas are essential. Although preliminary data is not required, applicants must compete against faculty from all disciplines and proposals must make it through multiple rounds of rigorous peer review.
Bioelectronics Pioneer will Join SQI
Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics will expand SQI research
John A. Rogers, who designs innovative bio-integrated electronic devices, will join NU as the Louis Simpson and Kimberly Querrey Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Medicine. Rogers will join the SQI resident faculty group in September 2016.
His Chicago-based research laboratory and the Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics he will launch will be part of SQI. Rogers' arrival will expand the scope of research at the Simpson Querrey Institute and create many synergistic opportunities with the institute’s scientific and clinical partners worldwide.
Press | Northwestern
Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center
Largest total gift from a single donor supports biomedical research programs
In recognition of their additional gift of $92 million, the new biomedical research building on the Chicago campus will bear the name Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center. The couple’s previous donations totaling $25 million endowed the Simpson Querrey Institute for BioNanotechnology (SQI).
The new Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center will be directly connected to the Lurie Medical Research Center where SQI is located. When construction is completed, it will provide new space for SQI members and Feinberg School of Medicine researchers who are working to find cures for cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disorders, and genetic diseases. Biomedical researchers from Lurie Children’s Hospital, the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago will also have a presence in the new building.