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SQI: Simpson Querry Institute

2021 News

Susan Quaggin

Quaggin elected to National Academy of Inventors

December 8, 2021
SQI faculty member Susan Quaggin has been elected as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. She joins the academy’s roster of fellows selected for prolific innovations that have made an impact on the quality of life, economic development or welfare of society.
Spinal cord section

‘Dancing molecules’ successfully repair severe spinal cord injuries

November 11, 2021
Researchers led by SQI director Samuel Stupp have developed a new injectable therapy that harnesses “dancing molecules” to reverse paralysis and repair tissue after severe spinal cord injuries. In a new study published in Science, they administered a single injection to tissues surrounding the spinal cords of paralyzed mice. Just four weeks later, the animals regained the ability to walk.
Guillermo Ameer

Ameer named to National Academy of Medicine

October 18, 2021
SQI member Guillermo Ameer has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. Ameer was selected “for pioneering contributions to regenerative engineering and medicine through the development, dissemination, and translation of citrate-based biomaterials."
Samuel Stupp portrait

SQI director Samuel Stupp to receive Hirschmann Award in Peptide Chemistry

September 29, 2021
SQI director Samuel Stupp will receive the 2022 American Chemical Society Ralph F. Hirschmann Award in Peptide Chemistry. Stupp was selected “for his fundamental and groundbreaking work on the supramolecular chemistry of peptide amphiphiles and on their remarkable functionality in biological regeneration.”
CITRELOCK tendon fixation devices

Northwestern-invented biomaterial moves from lab bench to orthopaedic market

September 27, 2021
A medical product based on novel biomaterials pioneered in the laboratory of SQI member Guillermo Ameer will be widely available for use in musculoskeletal surgeries to directly benefit patients. The biomaterial technology, called CITREGEN™, has unique chemical and mechanical properties for orthopaedic surgical applications that help grafted tissue heal.

Hersam named fellow of the American Chemical Society

August 5, 2021

SQI member Mark Hersam is one of 49 members of the American Chemical Society (ACS) who has recently been named an ACS fellow. The fellows program, started in 2009, recognizes members who have made outstanding contributions to science, the profession, and the ACS.

Hersam is the Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and the director of the Materials Research Center at Northwestern.

Mark Hersam portrait

Two Northwestern faculty receive inaugural Stoddart Award

June 23, 2021
SQI faculty member Mark Hersam and fellow Northwestern University professor Omar Farha have received the inaugural AAAFM-Stoddart Award from the American Association for Advances in Functional Materials (AAAFM). Hersam received the award for his “pioneering contributions to the synthesis, surface science, chemical functionalization and application of low-dimensional nano-electronic materials.”

COVID-19 PCR tests can be freeze dried

June 10, 2021

Northwestern University researchers led by SQI member Michael Jewett have discovered that commercially available polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests can withstand the freeze-drying process, making them shelf-stable for up to 30 days and 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) without sacrificing sensitivity and accuracy. 

The new strategy could help ease logistical challenges, making the “gold standard” tests for COVID-19 more available to help schools, businesses and sporting events safely reopen. It also could be a particularly powerful option for low-resource settings that lack access to reliable electricity and refrigeration.

Jonathan Rivnay portrait

Implantable ‘living pharmacy’ could control body’s sleep/wake cycles

May 13, 2021
A multi-institution team of researchers led by SQI faculty member Jonathan Rivnay has signed a cooperative agreement with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a wireless, fully implantable device that will control the body’s circadian clock, halving the time it takes to recover from disrupted sleep/wake cycles. SQI member Guillermo Ameer is also part of the investigative team, which will receive up to $33 million in funding support over four-and-a-half years.
Formation of lymphatic endothelial progenitor cells

Mitochondria play key role in lymphatic development

May 5, 2021
Mitochondria play a key role in the formation of the lymphatic vasculature, according to a study published in Science Advances and led by SQI faculty member Guillermo Oliver. The investigators found that the organelle controls a key autoregulatory feedback loop operating during lymphatic endothelial cell fate specification, sensing the cells' metabolic needs and local tissue environment.
Neuromorphic circuit

New brain-like computing device simulates human learning

April 30, 2021
A research team co-led by SQI faculty member Jonathan Rivnay has developed a brain-like computing device that is capable of learning by association. Similar to how famed physiologist Ivan Pavlov conditioned dogs to associate a bell with food, researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Hong Kong successfully conditioned their circuit to associate light with pressure.
Vaccine image

Membranes unlock potential to vastly increase cell-free vaccine production

April 22, 2021
By cracking open a cellular membrane, Northwestern University synthetic biologists led by SQI member Michael Jewett have discovered a new way to increase production yields of protein-based vaccines by five-fold, significantly broadening access to potentially lifesaving medicines.
Guillermo Ameer

Ameer named fellow of Materials Research Society

April 2, 2021
SQI faculty member Guillermo Ameer has been named a fellow of the Materials Research Society (MRS) for his contributions to regenerative engineering through pioneering work to develop antioxidant citrate-based polymers that are useful for musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, dermal and urological applications.
Core technician Charles Bressan demonstrates how to use one of ANTEC's research instruments.

New videos promote safe training on ANTEC equipment during COVID-19 pandemic

March 22, 2021
The Analytical bioNanoTechnology Equipment Core (ANTEC) has completely overhauled its training procedure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, replacing in-person sessions with a combination of illustrated user guides, instructional videos for seven different instruments and Zoom meetings for real-time assistance in the laboratory. This ensures that every trainee has a safe and standardized introduction to ANTEC and its state-of-the-art equipment.
Evan Scott

Engineering drug delivery vehicles to control clearance by the immune system

March 5, 2021
A team led by SQI faculty member Evan Scott has demonstrated that the extent to which a common protein found in blood unravels on the surfaces of drug delivery vehicles will determine how such nanocarriers distribute throughout the body. Engineering drug nanocarriers to either stabilize or unravel albumin — a protein that helps maintain osmotic pressure in the bloodstream — can tune the nanocarrier’s cellular interactions and circulation time.

Untangling cellular changes in pediatric epilepsy

March 3, 2021

For the first time, scientists have characterized how a mutation in the gene KCNQ2, associated with pediatric epilepsy, affects human neuron activity. The findings suggest early therapy could be helpful but further research is still required, according to SQI faculty member Evangelos Kiskinis, the co-corresponding author of the study.

“If our hypothesis is correct, one would need to initiate treatment early,” Kiskinis said. “Now, we’re thinking of ways to take this forward.”

Superstructures formed by ‘walking’ molecules could help create neurons for regenerative medicine

February 22, 2021

Researchers led by SQI director Samuel Stupp have demonstrated that biomaterials composed of “superstructured” nanofibers can enhance neuron growth, an important finding that could have implications for treating spinal cord injury and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. 

Now that the team has applied a proof of concept to neurons, Stupp believes he could break into other areas of regenerative medicine by applying different chemical sequences to the 3D-printable material. This work was published in the journal Advanced Science and supported by SQI’s Center for Regenerative Nanomedicine.

Guillermo Oliver

Oliver to receive Benditt Award for contributions to vascular biology

February 15, 2021
SQI member Guillermo Oliver has been selected to receive the 2021 Earl P. Benditt Award in recognition of his work to better characterize the lymphatic system, the North American Vascular Biology Organization (NAVBO) announced. The award honors a scientist who has made an outstanding discovery or developed a concept that has been seminal to the understanding of vascular biology.
Stuart Stock headshot

Stock named fellow of international optics and photonics society

February 15, 2021
SQI faculty member Stuart Stock has been honored as a fellow of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. Stock is one of 57 SPIE members to be promoted to fellowship status this year.
Intestinal tissue-derived cells stained with inflammatory markers in an animal model of Crohn’s disease-like ileitis

Novel injectable therapy shows promise in treating Crohn’s disease

February 12, 2021
A team of SQI researchers led by Arun Sharma has demonstrated that a direct injection of anti-inflammatory peptide amphiphiles into intestinal lesions can reduce lesion size and inflammation in an animal model of Crohn’s disease, a chronic condition that is notoriously difficult to treat.

Shelf-stable vaccines avoid waste, expand access

February 3, 2021

SQI faculty member Michael Jewett and colleagues have developed a new manufacturing platform that can quickly make vaccines at the point of care, ensuring they will not go to waste due to transportation or storage issues and expanding access to potentially life-saving medications.

The new method uses cell-free components that are freeze-dried, remaining shelf-stable for six months or longer. Once the cell-free systems reach their destination and are ready for use, health care workers can rehydrate them with a single drop of water to make the vaccine on demand.

Hsu named among spine surgeon leaders by Becker’s Healthcare

January 28, 2021

SQI faculty member Wellington Hsu has been recognized by Becker’s Spine Review as one of 10 “spine surgeon leaders to know for 2021." Hsu’s clinical practice focuses on minimally invasive procedures to treat spinal disorders, and his SQI research involves developing novel biomaterials for bone regeneration.

Lymphoma cells

Cholesterol-mimicking nanoparticles kill lymphoma cells

January 27, 2021
Northwestern scientists including SQI faculty member C. Shad Thaxton have developed a novel therapy to trick cancer cells into gobbling up what they think is their favorite food — cholesterol — which actually triggers their destruction. What appears to them as an HDL-loaded particle is really a synthetic nanoparticle that binds to the cancer cells and starves them to death.
Tristan Clemons

Meet the Researchers: Tristan Clemons

January 13, 2021
Tristan Clemons is a Research Associate in the laboratory of SQI director Samuel Stupp and the featured speaker for the Rising Stars of SQI Lecture on Feb. 4. In this Q&A, Clemons previews his upcoming lecture, discusses highlights from his time in the Stupp group and explains how his experience as an elite athlete benefits his research career.
Susan Quaggin

Quaggin to lead American Society of Nephrology

January 11, 2021
SQI member Susan Quaggin took over as president of the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) on Jan. 1, the ASN announced in a press release. The society will focus during Quaggin’s term on eliminating kidney health disparities, including launching new initiatives such as a loan mitigation program for trainees underrepresented in medicine. It will also work to ensure access to new therapies and harness transformative advances in the specialty to redefine kidney medicine.