Congratulations to Jun and Henry for winning a President’s Undergraduate Research Awards (PURA) for Spring 2020! PURA fund student salaries to conduct undergraduate research with Georgia Tech faculty and offset travel expenses for undergraduates to present their research at professional conferences. Between two hundred and three hundred competitive awards are offered on campus each year. Read more about PURA here.
Kevin has been selected as a Petit Undergraduate Scholar for 2018 with Ida serving as his Petit Mentor. Congratulations!
From the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, “The Petit Undergraduate Research Scholars program is a competitive scholarship program that serves to develop the next generation of leading bioengineering and bioscience researchers by providing a comprehensive research experience for a full year. Open to all Atlanta area university students, the program allows undergraduates to conduct independent research in the state-of-the-art laboratories of the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience and other bio-focused Georgia Tech labs. Scholars develop their own research project within the term of January to December each year.”
Read more about the 2020 Scholars here.
Grad student Ian Miller presented his work on thermal control of CAR T cells at the Fred Hutch Immuno-Oncology Graduate Student Symposium hosted by Fred Hutch’s Immunotherapy Integrated Research Center (IIRC). Participants were able to meet faculty, learn about the breadth of research done in immuno-oncology, visit research laboratories and shared resource facilities, and tour Fred Hutch’s Bezos Family Immunotherapy Clinic at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
Hathaichanok “Noina” Phuengkham joins LSI as a new post-doc. Noina originally hails from Thailand and completed her Ph.D. studies at Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea where she developed biomaterials to alter immunosuppressive tumor microenvironments with Dr. Yong Taik Lim. Read more about Noina here.
Dr. Kwong was invited to speak at the Transplant Immunosuppression 2019 Conference in Minneapolis, MN. The course focused on current options for immunosuppression (and what’s in the pipeline), with particular attention to individualization of immunosuppression based on clinical and/or laboratory parameters; prevention, diagnosis and treatment of antibody-mediated rejection; improving long-term transplant outcomes; and major issues in transplant-related infectious disease, living donation, and patient-centered care.
Ali was raised in San Diego, CA before moving to São Paulo, Brazil for three years. He attended UCSD where he graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Bioengineering. As an undergraduate, he developed a STEM immersion program for a local high school. In the lab, Ali investigated new drug delivery techniques to reduce patient non-compliance, which received funding from NSF I-Corps and the UCSD Frontiers of Innovation Scholars Program. He then continued his studies with Dr. Yingxiao Wang exploring novel methods to remotely activate cells using heat before graduating with an M.S. in 2019. In LSI, Ali is pursuing his Ph.D. to develop new immunotherapies. He loves to travel, eat, and play pick-up sports in his free time.
Our work with the Qiu group is now online in PLoS Computational Biology! The activity of enzymatic proteins, which are called proteases, drives numerous important processes in health and disease: including cancer, immunity, and infectious disease.
Many labs have developed useful diagnostics by designing sensors that measure the activity of these proteases. However, if we want to detect multiple proteases at the same time, it becomes impractical to design sensors that only detect one protease. This is due to a phenomenon called protease promiscuity, which means that proteases will activate multiple different sensors.
Computational methods have been created to solve this problem, but the challenge is that these often require large amounts of training data. Further, completely different proteases may be detected by the same subset of sensors.
In this work, we design a computational method to overcome this problem by clustering similar proteases into “subfamilies”, which increases estimation accuracy. Further, our method tests multiple combinations of sensors to maintain accuracy while minimizing the number of sensors used.
Together, we envision that this work will increase the amount of useful information we can extract from biological samples, which may lead to better clinical diagnostics.
Multiple students were awarded podium talks at the 2019 BMES Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, PA. They are:
Brandon Holt – “Synthetic biological circuits for treating prodrug-resistant bacteria”
Brandon Holt – “Proteases as biological bits for programmable medicine”
Ian Miller – “Remote Control of CAR T Cells Using Thermal Cues”
Shreyas Dahotre – “Ultrasensitive Detection of Protein and Cellular Biomarkers by CRISPR-Cas12a”
Lena Gamboa – “Heat-triggered CRISPR-dCas9 for the remote control of therapeutic T cells”
Quoc Mac – “Activity Therasensors for Predictive Monitoring of Response to Checkpoint Blockade Immunotherapy”
Lee-Kai Sun – “Designing Synthetic Gene Switches for Single-cue Thermal Control of Engineered T Cells”
Anna Romanov – “Precise T Cell Drug Delivery Using pMHC Liposomes”
Look forward to seeing you in Philly!
Dr. Kwong was invited to participate in the Synthetic Biomarkers for Detection of Cancers at Incipient and Early Stages (SYNDICATE) Think Tank Meeting hosted by the Division of Cancer Prevention (DCP) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and co-chaired by Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Dr. Sam Gambhir, Stanford University.
The think tank brought together experts in the biomarker community to review the current status of synthetic biomarkers and discuss the challenges in development of biomarkers, to discuss translation of promising synthetic tools safely from preclinical models to humans and the development of new tools, to explore combination with endogenous biomarkers, as well as use as companion diagnostics, patient safety, and a variety of other pertinent topics.
Learn more about the meeting here.
Adrian was born in Dover, Delaware but spent half of his life in Dahlonega, GA. He graduated cum laude from the University of Georgia, where he received a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. During his undergraduate years, he worked in Dr. Amy Medlock’s laboratory, investigating the regulatory roles of Peroxiredoxin 5 and Progesterone Receptor Membrane Component 1 in heme biosynthesis. Upon graduating, he worked for Omega Bioservices where he focused on DNA/RNA isolation as well as DNA sequencing through Illumina platforms. In his spare time, he enjoys reading anything nonfiction, playing video games, and exercising.