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SQI: Simpson Querry Institute

News and Announcements

Read the most recent Simpson Querrey Institute (SQI) news below, and subscribe to our monthly newsletters to stay informed about what is happening at SQI.

Rivnay awarded funding to investigate peripheral nerve regeneration

September 1, 2020

SQI faculty member Jonathan Rivnay has garnered two research grants totaling $1.8 million to explore different approaches for using electroactive scaffolds to affect regeneration of peripheral nerves. In both cases, the idea is to design new materials and biocomposites that will allow for electrical stimulation at the site of nerve damage, as electrical stimulation is known to influence cellular processes linked to nerve repair and regeneration.

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SQI core facilities earn 2020 Service Excellence Awards

August 20, 2020
The Simpson Querrey Institute’s Peptide Synthesis Core and Analytical bioNanoTechnology Equipment Core (ANTEC) have each been recognized with 2020 Core Facilities Service Excellence Awards by the Office for Research at Northwestern.
Alberto Ortega portrait

Meet the Researchers: Alberto Ortega

August 18, 2020
Alberto Ortega is a postdoctoral researcher who joined the laboratory of SQI faculty member Evangelos Kiskinis in 2015. In this interview, Ortega discusses a recent breakthrough from the Kiskinis Lab on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and his plans to continue developing more translational methods to study neurological diseases.
Wellington Hsu headshot

Meet the Faculty: Wellington Hsu, MD

August 11, 2020
Wellington Hsu is an SQI faculty member and the Clifford C. Raisbeck, MD, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Professor of Neurological Surgery at Northwestern. He also runs a research lab with his wife, Erin Hsu, the assistant director of SQI. In this interview, Hsu describes his interest in sports medicine and how he uses his clinical expertise to contribute to SQI’s efforts to develop better materials for spine fusion procedures.

Stupp featured in Weinberg article about COVID-19 research

August 4, 2020

SQI director Samuel Stupp was highlighted in a recent Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences article about how fundamental research has laid the groundwork for potential solutions for COVID-19. In Stupp’s case, his experience conducting pioneering research on peptide materials for regenerative medicine enabled him to rapidly pivot and explore the possibility of using peptide-based therapies to treat COVID-19.

“You have to draw from many parts of science to solve problems, and it’s very difficult to predict which ones will be the most useful,” Stupp said. “This pandemic illustrates a very important point: that even though I was not focused on viral infections, I was able to use my knowledge and my experience in something else that is directly applicable to the current COVID-19 challenge.”

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Northwestern scientists publish guiding principles for COVID-19 vaccine development

July 21, 2020
A group of Northwestern University scientists including SQI members Michael Jewett and Samuel Stupp has created a set of guidelines to assist in developing a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19. Published July 21 in ACS Central Science, the principles were gleaned from early research on COVID-19 and data from the 2003 SARS outbreak, which was caused by a virus very similar to the one that causes COVID-19.
Yvonne Chan portrait

Meet the Researchers: Yvonne Chan, MD

July 14, 2020
Yvonne Chan, MD, recently completed her pediatric urology fellowship training at Northwestern University, including a year devoted to research in the laboratory of SQI faculty member Arun Sharma. In this interview, Chan describes what led her down her current career path and her work on a bladder regeneration project in the Sharma Lab.

New biomaterial could shield against harmful radiation

July 9, 2020

Researchers led by SQI faculty member Nathan Gianneschi have synthesized a new form of melanin enriched with selenium that shows extraordinary promise as a shield for human tissue against harmful radiation.

Gianneschi and his team envision that this new biomaterial, called "selenomelanin," could be applied to a person’s skin, like a melanin-based sunscreen. It could also be used as a protective film to shield materials from radiation while in transit, including during space travel.

Sumanas Jordan with a patient

New Gender Pathways Program makes trans health care a priority

July 7, 2020
SQI faculty member Sumanas Jordan has co-founded a new Northwestern Medicine program to provide transgender and non-binary individuals with gender-affirming, supportive medical services that treat the “whole person” throughout their lifetime. Called the Gender Pathways Program, the initiative offers coordinated multidisciplinary care by more than a dozen Northwestern Medicine physicians in obstetrics and gynecology, urology, reproductive endocrinology and infertility, internal medicine, family medicine and plastic surgery.
A graphic illustration of hybrid perovskite materials displaying different colors

SQI, MIT researchers develop novel materials for energy and sensing

July 6, 2020
A team of researchers from the Simpson Querrey Institute (SQI) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has demonstrated the ability to fine-tune the electronic properties of hybrid perovskite materials, which have drawn enormous interest as potential next-generation optoelectronic materials for devices such as solar cells and light sources.

Karver interview featured in Feinberg newsletter

June 23, 2020

Mark Karver, director of SQI’s Peptide Synthesis Core (PSC), was highlighted in the latest “Breakthroughs” newsletter produced by the Feinberg School of Medicine Research Office. In the interview, Karver describes the research trajectory that led him to Northwestern, the wide range of collaborations that involve the PSC and a current project investigating the use of peptide-based therapies for COVID-19.

Object crawls when hit with blue light

Synthetic materials mimic living creatures

June 22, 2020
SQI researchers have developed "robotic soft matter" that mimics living creatures by bending, rotating and even crawling when hit with light. The scientists believe the lifelike materials could carry out many tasks, with potential applications in energy, environmental remediation and advanced medicine.

Printable biosensors could detect contaminated fish

June 18, 2020

Researchers from Northwestern University and Iowa State University have developed a graphene-based electrochemical biosensor capable of detecting histamines (allergens) and toxins in food, with a low manufacturing cost and a much faster response than standard laboratory tests. SQI faculty member Mark Hersam was a co-corresponding author on the research, which showed that the printable biosensors could detect toxicologically relevant levels of histamine in both a buffer solution and fish broth.  

“These biosensors can be used in many settings such as import and export ports, food processing facilities, and supermarkets, where continuous on-site monitoring of food samples is needed,” Hersam said. “On-site testing would eliminate the need to send food samples for laboratory testing, which requires additional steps for handling and increases time and cost for analysis — consequently increasing the risk of foodborne illnesses and food wastage.”

A visual depiction of different enzyme combinations to discover optimal biosynthetic pathways sustainable biomanufacturing.

New platform boosts speed of sustainable biomanufacturing

June 16, 2020
SQI faculty member Michael Jewett has led the development of a new rapid-prototyping system to accelerate the design of biological systems, reducing the time to produce sustainable biomanufacturing products from months to weeks. The platform provides a quick and powerful design-build-test framework to discover optimal biosynthetic pathways for cellular metabolic engineering that could impact a range of industries from clean energy to consumer products.