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SQI: Simpson Querry Institute

2023 News

Shana Kelley

Kelley elected to National Academy of Inventors

December 13, 2023
SQI member Shana Kelley has been named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), the highest professional distinction awarded solely to academic inventors. The program recognizes academic inventors who have demonstrated a “spirit of innovation” by creating or facilitating inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and social welfare.
Guillermo Ameer

Ameer elected a Biomaterials Science and Engineering Fellow

December 8, 2023
SQI member Guillermo Ameer has been elected a Fellow of Biomaterials Science and Engineering (FBSE) by the International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering, the highest honor the global biomaterials community can bestow on outstanding scientists. With his election, Ameer joins a group of fewer than 500 biomaterials scientists worldwide who have been named a FBSE.
Evangelos Kiskinis

Studies identify novel underpinnings of genetic ALS

November 13, 2023
A pair of recent studies from the laboratory of SQI member Evangelos Kiskinis have uncovered novel cellular mechanisms that are involved in two types of genetic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The findings improve the understanding of ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, and provide support for the future development of targeted therapies.
Cells supported by an oxygenation device

A breath of fresh air keeps drug-producing cells alive longer

November 9, 2023
A research team co-led by SQI member Jonathan Rivnay has developed a novel device that produces oxygen in order to keep cells alive inside the self-contained implant. The longer cells can stay alive and healthy, the longer they can autonomously produce therapeutics for the body.
Synthetic melanin being applied to inflamed skin

‘Super melanin’ heals skin injuries from sunburn, chemical burns

November 2, 2023
In a new study, SQI member Nathan Gianneschi and colleagues show that their synthetic melanin, mimicking the natural melanin in human skin, can be applied topically to injured skin, where it accelerates wound healing. These effects occur both in the skin itself and systemically in the body.
Cara Smith

Meet the Researchers: Cara Smith

November 1, 2023
Cara Smith recently earned her PhD in Biomedical Engineering and conducts research in SQI director Samuel Stupp’s laboratory. In this interview, Smith summarizes her recently published research, describes her experience of working in the Stupp group, and shares her career aspirations.

Developing new approaches for spinal cord injury

October 26, 2023

Northwestern researchers led by SQI director Samuel Stupp have developed a molecular “scaffold” capable of enhancing electrical activity and growth in neurons, which may prove useful in treating spinal cord injuries. The scaffolds were composed of a novel nanofiber that mimics the bioactivity of the protein netrin-1 and sustainably delivers signals to neurons over long periods of time.

SQI members Evangelos Kiskinis and Zaida Alvarez were coauthors of the paper, which was published in ACS Nano.

Identifying molecular culprits underlying organ rejection

October 24, 2023

A research team including SQI member Zheng Jenny Zhang has identified how the immune system can regulate organ rejection in mice, which may prove useful for improving transplant tolerance in humans.

The findings suggest that priming T-cells of transplant recipients with repeated injections of antigens from their organ donor may help the recipient’s body avoid organ rejection resulting from infection. The results of the study also identify donor MHC class II as a problematic antigen that may be a cause of rejection after severe infections.

Nathan Gianneschi

Protein-like polymers illuminate the path to macular degeneration treatment

October 16, 2023
In the latest stride toward combating neovascular age-related macular degeneration, a team led by SQI member Nathan Gianneschi has unveiled a novel approach that could transform patients' lives worldwide. Their research, published in Science Advances, introduces Thrombospondin-1 mimetic protein-like polymers as a potential game-changer in the fight against this leading cause of blindness.
Guillermo Ameer

Ameer wins BMES medal for translational bioengineering

October 12, 2023
SQI member Guillermo Ameer has been named the inaugural winner of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Athanasiou Medal of Excellence in Translational Bioengineering. The medal recognizes the achievements of an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of biomedical engineering with a particular focus on translation.
Drug-producing implant

Small, implantable device could sense and treat cancer

September 26, 2023
A multi-institutional team of researchers, including SQI members Jonathan Rivnay and Shana Kelley, has received $45 million from the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) to fast-track the development of a first-of-its-kind implant to sense and treat cancer. The funding will support a five-and-a-half-year effort to develop and test a device that can sense inflammatory markers associated with cancer and then autonomously deliver immunotherapy.
Guillermo Ameer

Ameer wins Excellence in Biomaterials Science Award

August 25, 2023
SQI member Guillermo Ameer has been elected the winner of the 2023 Excellence in Biomaterials Science Award, an honor given by the Surfaces in Biomaterials Foundation. The award, the highest given by the foundation, recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the biomaterials science field.

‘New’ ALS gene destabilizes neuron’s structure and chokes off its nucleus

August 18, 2023
Northwestern University scientists led by SQI member Evangelos Kiskinis have discovered for the first time how mutated NEK1 genes lead to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). The findings could lead to new therapeutic targets for the disease.
Student making biomaterials out of alginate

SQI hosts high school students interested in medicine

August 14, 2023
Forty-seven high school students with the National Student Leadership Conference’s Medicine Intensive program visited SQI to learn about the Institute’s biomedical research and how therapeutic materials are synthesized, analyzed, and ultimately tested in disease models.
Shana Kelley

New DNA identification approach could improve monitoring for chronic diseases

July 27, 2023
Investigators led by SQI member Shana Kelley have developed a novel approach for identifying sequences of artificial DNA with differing levels of binding to other small molecules. The approach, detailed in a study published in Nature Chemistry, could help improve the efficiency of diagnostic monitoring for patients with chronic diseases.
Zheng Jenny Zhang

Meet the Faculty: Zheng Jenny Zhang

July 26, 2023
Zheng Jenny Zhang is a Research Professor of Surgery in the Division of Organ Transplantation at the Feinberg School of Medicine. In this interview, Zhang discusses her research focuses, her collaborations with nanotechnology experts at SQI, and her role as director of the Microsurgery and Preclinical Research Core at Feinberg’s Comprehensive Transplant Center.
Susan Quaggin

Quaggin named new chair of Medicine

June 28, 2023
SQI member Susan Quaggin has been named the new chair of the Department of Medicine, effective September 1. In this new role, she will also serve as Physician-in-Chief at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern Medical Group. She will be the first woman to serve as Northwestern University’s chair of Medicine.
Panelists speaking about biomedical science

What does the new frontier in biomedicine look like?

June 2, 2023
Some of Northwestern University’s brightest minds in biomedical science — including SQI members Shana Kelley, Guillermo Ameer and John Rogers — converged before a packed auditorium May 30 to discuss the hottest topics in their fields. Hosted by Provost Kathleen Hagerty, “The New Frontiers of Biomedical Science and Biomedical Engineering” explored wide-ranging matters related to improving the quality of human life, including advances in artificial intelligence (AI), new approaches to treating cancer, the quest for longevity, the potential of regenerative medicine and the promise of bioelectronics.
American Academy of Arts and Sciences logo

Three SQI members elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 20, 2023
SQI members Guillermo Ameer, Shana Kelley, and Susan Quaggin have been elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies. They are among eight Northwestern University faculty and nearly 270 total members elected in 2023 drawn from academia, the arts, industry, policy, research and science.

New therapy harnesses patients’ blood cells to fight tumors

April 10, 2023

Researchers led by SQI member Shana Kelley have discovered it is possible to isolate a tumor’s attack cells non-invasively from blood, rather than from tumors. The approach is fast, cost-effective and could be used to treat a variety of cancers.


Plastic transistor amplifies biochemical sensing signal

April 3, 2023
Northwestern University researchers led by SQI member Jonathan Rivnay have developed a new technology that boosts the body’s chemical signals by more than 1,000 times. By enabling amplification of weak biochemical signals, the new approach brings modern medicine one step closer to real-time, on-site diagnostics and disease monitoring.

Kelley to lead new biomedical research hub

March 3, 2023

SQI member Shana Kelley has been selected as president of a new biomedical research hub in Chicago funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI). CZI will invest $250 million over a decade into the biohub, which will bring together scientists from three Illinois universities to develop tiny sensors that measure biological processes in human tissues. The work is expected to provide new insights into inflammation and how it contributes to disease.

Stupp awarded Bauerman Medal

February 20, 2023

SQI director Samuel Stupp has been awarded the Bauerman Medal from the Materials Department at Imperial College London. The medal and accompanying prize lecture highlight advances in materials science and engineering. Stupp’s lecture, Frontiers in Supramolecular Design of Materials, will be delivered on March 15.

Randy Atwal

Meet the Researchers: Randy Atwal

January 23, 2023
Randy Atwal is a Research Assistant Professor in the laboratory of SQI member Shana Kelley and the featured speaker for the Rising Stars of SQI Lecture on Feb. 3. In this interview, Atwal previews his lecture titled “LEAPFROG: Large-Scale Cell Profiling Based Discovery Engine” and discusses his role in the translationally focused Kelley group.
vertical electrochemical transistor

Vertical electrochemical transistor pushes wearable electronics forward

January 23, 2023
A transdisciplinary Northwestern University research team including SQI member Jonathan Rivnay has developed a revolutionary transistor that is expected be ideal for lightweight, flexible, high-performance bioelectronics. The electrochemical transistor is compatible with blood and water and can amplify important signals, making it especially useful for biomedical sensing.

Mature ‘lab grown’ neurons hold promise for neurodegenerative disease

January 12, 2023

Researchers led by SQI members Evangelos Kiskinis and Samuel Stupp have created the first highly mature neurons from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), a feat that opens new opportunities for medical research and potential transplantation therapies for neurodegenerative diseases and traumatic injuries.

Not only were the enriched neurons more mature, they also demonstrated enhanced signaling capabilities and greater branching ability, which is required for neurons to make synaptic contact with one another. And, unlike typical stem cell-derived neurons which tend to clump together, these neurons did not aggregate, making them less challenging to maintain.

Northwestern Magazine highlights regenerative medicine research

January 11, 2023
Northwestern Magazine published an article in its Winter 2023 issue featuring the work of several SQI members in the field of regenerative medicine. The story highlighted recent and ongoing research from Samuel Stupp and Guillermo Ameer, as well as specific projects from Evan Scott, Arun Sharma, Susan Quaggin, Lorenzo Gallon and Guillermo Oliver.