Upcoming Talks and Events
Dr. Guillermo Ameer
Regenerative engineering is the convergence of advances in materials science, physical sciences, stem cell and developmental biology, and translational medicine to develop tools that enable the regeneration and reconstruction of tissue and organ function. I will describe how materials can be engineered to play a critical role in treating tissue and organ defects and dysfunction by promoting cellular processes that are conducive to regeneration. Applications of these materials to address the complications of diabetes will be discussed.
Dr. Ameer is the Daniel Hale Williams professor of Biomedical Engineering and Surgery in the Biomedical Engineering Department at the McCormick School of Engineering and the Department of Surgery at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. He is the founding director of the Center for Advanced Regenerative Engineering (CARE). Under his leadership, CARE has been awarded over $10 million dollars of extramural funding by several government agencies for research and development of regenerative engineering products. Dr. Ameer received his Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and his doctoral degree in Chemical and Biomedical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research interests include regenerative engineering, biomaterials, on demand patient-specific medical devices, additive manufacturing for biomedical devices, controlled drug delivery and bio/nanotechnology for improved therapeutics and diagnostics. Dr. Ameer’s laboratory pioneered the development and medical applications of citrate-based biomaterials. These materials have been adopted for various bioengineering applications by hundreds of researchers around the world. He has co-authored over 250 peer-reviewed journal publications and conference abstracts, several book chapters, and over 50 patents issued and pending in 9 countries. Several of his patents have been licensed to companies to develop medical products. Dr. Ameer is a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), a Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). In 2018 Dr. Ameer was awarded the Key to the City of Panama by the Panamanian Government for his contributions to science and society. Dr. Ameer is an Associate Editor for the AAAS journal Science Advances and the Regenerative Engineering and Translational Medicine journal. He is a member of the Boards of Directors of AIMBE and the Regenerative Engineering Society. Dr. Ameer also serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of Acuitive Technologies, Inc. a company that is bringing one of his technologies to the musculoskeletal surgery market. Dr. Ameer is also a co-founder of several medical device companies.
Talking to Cells: Biomolecular Engineering for Non-Invasive Imaging and Control of Cellular Function
The study of biological function in intact organisms and the development of targeted cellular therapeutics necessitate methods to image and control cellular function in vivo. Technologies such as fluorescent proteins and optogenetics serve this purpose in small, translucent specimens, but are limited by the poor penetration of light into deeper tissues. In contrast, most non-invasive techniques such as ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging – while based on energy forms that penetrate tissue effectively – are not effectively coupled to cellular function. Our work attempts to bridge this gap by engineering biomolecules with the appropriate physical properties to interact with magnetic fields and sound waves. In this talk, I will describe our recent development of biomolecular reporters and actuators for ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging. The reporters are based on a unique class of gas-filled protein nanostructures from buoyant photosynthetic microbes. These proteins produce nonlinear scattering of sound waves, enabling their detection with ultrasound, and perturb magnetic fields, allowing their detection with MRI. I will describe our recent progress in understanding the biophysical and acoustic properties of these biomolecules, engineering their mechanics and targeting at the genetic level, developing methods to enhance their detection in vivo and expressing them heterologously as reporter genes. Our actuators are based on temperature-dependent transcriptional repressors, which provide switch-like control of bacterial gene expression in response to small changes in temperature. We have genetically tuned these repressors to activate at thresholds within the biomedically relevant range of 32ºC to 46ºC, and constructed genetic logic circuits to connect thermal signals to various cellular functions. This allows us to use focused ultrasound to remote-control engineered bacterial cells in vivo. In addition, we have used ultrasound in combination with viral vectors and engineered receptors to provide spatially and cell-type specific non-invasive control over neural activity.