Biotechnology & Biomolecular Engineering

A graduate student works with a piece of equipment in a lab

Protein Chromatography Research in the Carta Group

Our research group employs experimental and theoretical engineering approaches to investigate chromatographic separation problems and develop new materials and processes for bioseparation applications. We are especially interested in studying the relationship between adsorbent characteristics, biomolecular structure, and mass transfer and in the optimization of process chromatography for the recovery, separation, and purification of biomolecules.

Bacterial Dynamics and Engineering in the Ford Group

In collaboration with the Lander's group in the Chemistry department, microfluidic devices representing a thin slice through a soil matrix are used to directly observe distributions of bacteria labeled with green fluorescent protein (GFP) as they sense and swim toward to sources of chemical pollutants in their surroundings. These devices can also be used to directly observe particle streamlines around single collector surfaces to better design clean bed filtration systems.

Neural Tissue Engineering in the Lampe Group

Neural regeneration within the central nervous system (CNS) is a critical unmet challenge as CNS disorders continue to be the leading cause of disability nationwide. By facilitating processes such as axon elongation, neural stem cell differentiation, and oligodendryocyte myelin production, we aim to understand some of the basic biomechanical and biochemical interactions at play in a well-characterized tissue-like environment. These studies will directly inform scientific understanding of cell-cell and cell-ECM interactions and help design treatment strategies combining cell, material, and drug delivery for improved CNS therapies.

Pharmaceutical Crystallization in the Giri Group

We use microfluidics and thin film deposition technologies to crystallize pharmaceutical compounds, to study the relationship between kinetic processing conditions and the resulting crystal structure and morphology. Polymorphism in various drug compounds are explored to study the relationship between crystal structure and physical properties, including bioavailability. Drug formulation optimization is enhanced by crystal structure control, which can pave the way for personalized medicine and a deeper understanding of how an organic molecule and the processing conditions interact to form a solid phase.

Cell Signaling and Systems Biology Research in the Lazzara Group

To make decisions, cells use a complex and still incompletely understood biochemical signaling language involving networks of intracellular proteins whose concentrations, modification states, or localization change in response to various stimuli. Cracking this biochemical code holds tremendous promise for virtually all areas of medicine because aberrant signaling underlies numerous diseases, including cancer. Work in the Lazzara lab integrates experimental and computational approaches to dissect the spatiotemporal regulatory mechanisms of signaling and to quantify the complex relationships between multivariate signaling processes and cell phenotypes. Fundamental studies focus on regulation of signaling by protein phosphatases and endocytic trafficking. Current application studies focus on identifying optimal ways to treat patients with specific subtypes of glioblastoma and pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

Musculoskeletal Tissue Engineering and Mechanobiology Research in the Caliari Group

Our group uses engineered biomaterial systems to understand cell behaviors involved in development, wound healing, and disease. In one research thrust we use spatially-graded materials mimicking heterogeneous extracellular matrices to repair musculoskeletal tissues and orthopedic interfaces, in particular skeletal muscle and muscle-tendon junctions. Other projects focus on understanding how the extracellular mechanical environment regulates growth factor signaling in mesenchymal stem cell differentiation.