“Lab On a Chip” Mimics Brain Chemistry

Levchenko flood chamber image
A. The lab on a chip includes a bottom fluidic layer (red) with a gradient generating network,
a cell seeding network, and observation chamber; a top layer (blue) with valves to control the
flow of channels in the bottom layer, and a glass lid with micro-wells (darker red) where neuronal
cell samples are placed. B. A 3D schematic image of the chip assembly.
Credit: Lab on a Chip / Royal Society of Chemistry.

Will speed studies of brain cells

Johns Hopkins researchers from the Whiting School of Engineering and the School of Medicine have devised a micro-scale tool – a lab on a chip – designed to mimic the chemical complexities of the brain. [Read more...]

INBT Hosts 11 Undergraduates for Summer Research Experience

2008 Research Experience for Undergraduates Students at the Institute for NanoBioTechnology. Credit: INBT/ JHU

Conducting original research is not strictly the realm of graduate students and faculty. Undergraduates from universities across the nation have gathered at the Institute for NanoBioTechnology at Johns Hopkins University to participate in the Nanotechnology for Biology and Medicine summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Eleven students were chosen to participate in this highly selective REU from a pool of more than 240 applicants for the opportunity to perform research in nanotechnology—science at the scale of one billionth of a meter. Each student was chosen because of their superior academic performance, interest in pursuing research, and faculty recommendations. This is the first time INBT has offered an REU program.

“INBT’s Nanotechnology for Biology and Medicine summer REU provides opportunities for individuals who demonstrate academic excellence and dedication to research,“ says program lead Denis Wirtz, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Johns Hopkins and associate director of the Institute for NanoBioTechnology. “We strive to give our students a truly unique educational experience with research at its core, which will serve as the ideal foundation for future graduate research.“

REU participants will conduct a 10-week research project in a lab supervised by an INBT affiliated faculty member. Two research projects will be based in the School of Medicine and nine will be hosted in the Whiting School of Engineering. Project themes range from basic cell biology to biomedical engineering to materials science.

The following students are participating in the Nanotechnology for Biology and Medicine summer REU program:

Juri Bassuner.
  • Juri Bassuner of St. Louis, Mo. is a senior at University of Missouri majoring in Biomedical Engineering. He will be working in the lab of associate professor Michael Bevan in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering. Bassuner previously conducted undergraduate research at the St. Louis University Department of Chemistry and at Clemson University at the Center for Advanced Engineering Fibers and Films.
Tiara Byrd.
  • Tiara Byrd of Tallahassee, Fla., is a senior at Florida A & M University majoring in Chemistry/Biochemistry. Byrd will be working in the lab of assistant professor Jeffery Gray in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Whiting School of Engineering. She previously conducted undergraduate research at the University of California, Los Angeles through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Exceptional Research Opportunity Program.
Nicholas Hagerty.
  • Nicholas Hagerty of Portland, Ore., is a junior at Brown University majoring in Biological Physics. Hagerty will be working in the lab of assistant professor Kalina Hristova in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering. He previously conducted undergraduate research in the Department of Physics at Brown University and also at the Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction at the Oregon Health and Science University.
You K. (Chloe) Kim.
  • You K. (Chloe) Kim of Houston, Texas is a sophomore at Johns Hopkins University studying Materials Science and Engineering. Kim will be working in the lab of professor Peter Searson in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering. Her research interests include nanobiotechnology applied to drug-delivery for the treatment of cancer and other diseases and the usage of synthetic and biological materials for medical implant applications.
Casey Kirkpatrick.
  • Casey Kirkpatrick of Manteo, N.C., is a senior at North Carolina State University majoring in Electrical Engineering. Kirkpatrick will be working in the lab of assistant professor David Gracias in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering. He conducted previous undergraduate research in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at North Carolina State University and was a lab instructor for an introductory course on circuits.
Deonnae Lopez.
  • Deonnae Lopez of Piscataway, N.J., is a senior at Rutgers University majoring in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. Lopez will be working in the lab of associate professor Doug Robinson in the Department of Cell Biology at the School of Medicine. She previously conducted undergraduate research at the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and currently does research at Rutgers on Epstein-Barr Virus.
David Nartey.
  • David Nartey of Richmond, Va. is a senior at Morgan State University majoring in Biology. Nartey will be working in the lab of assistant professor Hai-Quan Mao in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering. He previously conducted undergraduate research in the Department of Biology at Morgan State University and has served as an Academic Enrichment Program tutor to his classmates, also at Morgan.
Colbert Sesanker.
  • Colbert Sesanker of West Hartford, Conn., is as sophomore at Worcester Polytechnic Institute majoring in Computational and Applied Analysis. Sesanker will be working in the lab of assistant professor Dilip Asthagiri in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering. His research interests relate to the improvement or repair of the cardiovascular systems including the removal of arterial plaque via nanotechnology.
Adongo Tia-Okwee.
  • Adongo Tia-Okwee of Baltimore, Md., (formerly of San Fernando, Trinidad), is a senior majoring in Biology at Morgan State University. She will be working in the lab of professor Denis Wirtz in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering. Her primary interests include medical research into new technologies to treat HIV/AIDS and cancer.
Sean Virgile.
  • Sean Virgile of Franklin, Pa., is a junior at University of Rochester majoring in Biomedical Engineering. Virgile will be working in the lab of assistant professor Jeff Wang in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering. He previously attended the Pennsylvania Governor’s School of Health Care at University of Pittsburgh.
Jessica Wang.
  • Jessica Wang of College Station, Texas, is a junior at University of Michigan majoring in Biomedical Engineering. Wang will be working in the lab of associate professor Guo-li Ming in the Department of Neuroscience in the School of Medicine. She previously conducted undergraduate research at the University of Michigan and also the University of Texas at Arlington.

The Institute for NanoBioTechnology at Johns Hopkins promotes programs in research, education, outreach, and technology transfer designed to foster the next wave of nanobiotechnology innovation. More than 155 faculty members are affiliated with INBT and also are members of Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences , Whiting School of Engineering , School of Medicine , Bloomberg School of Public Health , and Applied Physics Laboratory. For more information about INBT’s programs for graduate research or independent study, go to http://inbt.jhu.edu .

NanoBioMed Student Profile: Tovah Honor Aronin

Tovah Honor
Tovah Honor Aronin. Graduate student in the NanoBioMed program. Credit: Mary Spiro / JHU

Calcium signals are involved in cell death, heart development, immune response, brain function, and many other cellular processes. A doctoral candidate in biology affiliated with the Institute of NanoBioTechnology at Johns Hopkins University, Tovah Honor Aronin studies calcium signaling in yeast using fluorescent probes to track calcium concentration or the activity of calcium-dependent proteins.

Aronin is a graduate student in the NanoBioMed program funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and is now in her second year. She recently joined the lab of Kyle Cunningham, professor of biology in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. In addition, Andre Levchenko, associate professor of biomedical engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering, serves as her co-adviser. [Read more...]

Cell Division Studies May Hold Keys to Cancer Treatments

Left: Contractile proteins (bright green) accumulate where micropipette deforms cell shape. Right: Contractile proteins redistribute along cell's midsection to drive division; mitotic spindle—microtubules apparent in early stages of cytokinesis—shown in red. Credit: Robinson Lab / JHU
Left: Contractile proteins (bright green) accumulate where micropipette deforms cell shape.
Right: Contractile proteins redistribute along cell’s midsection to drive division;
mitotic spindle-microtubules apparent in early stages of cytokinesis—shown in red.
Credit: Robinson Lab / JHU

INBT Faculty Profile: Doug Robinson

Through a comprehensive investigation of the fundamental process of cell division, Doug Robinson— assistant professor in the Department of Cell Biology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Institute for NanoBioTechnology affiliated faculty member—hopes to spur interest in some novel approaches to cancer treatment and prevention. [Read more...]

Leong Lauded for Science and Art at Materials Meeting

Dirty Dice -six patterned, self-assembled micro-cubes made of nickel and gold. Full image here. Credit: Timothy Leong / JHU
Dirty Dice -six patterned, self-assembled micro-cubes made of nickel and gold.
See the full image here. Credit: Timothy Leong / JHU

A doctoral student in chemical and biomolecular engineering working with a Johns Hopkins University faculty member affiliated with the Institute for NanoBioTechnology, won first prize awards for both his research and his scientifically inspired art during the 2007 Materials Research Society (MRS) meeting, held in Boston, Mass., in November 2007.

Timothy Leong, who works in the lab of David Gracias, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering was awarded a Graduate Student Gold Award and $400 for his presentation on applications of self-assembling nano-liter containers. MRS gives six such awards (three silver and three gold) during their fall meeting to honor graduate students who authored or co-authored symposium papers that exemplified significant and timely research. Leong was recognized for his oral presentation describing his personal contribution to the ongoing research in the Gracias Lab and also for expounding on the overall significance of the work.

“The nano-liter containers can be manipulated externally with a magnet and by using an inductive heating element,“ says Leong. “What is special is that now we have a platform that gives us wireless spatial and time control over microchemistry.“

Tim Leong
MRS “Science as Art” competition winner Timothy Leong. Credit: Mary Spiro / JHU

The MRS also sponsors a “Science as Art“ competition where entrants can show off their artistically interesting scientific images. Out of fifty entries, Leong received one of three first place awards and $400 for his electron micrograph image titled “Dirty Dice“ -six patterned, self-assembled micro-cubes made of nickel and gold (click for image).

“The hardest thing to do when you make a tiny 3-D object is to put a pattern on all the faces of it,“ Leong says. “One of the strengths of our container folding process is that we can put any arbitrary pattern on one or all six faces really easily.“ Leong also says he constructed the dice version of the cubes “to have a little fun in the lab.“

Leong says he is excited to be working in an area of chemical engineering research that is so multidisciplinary and that it can make people say, “Wow,“ both scientifically as well as artistically.

The Gracias lab research interests include micro- and nano-technology, self-assembly, non-linear optics, nanoelectronics, interfacial science, biomedical devices and nano-medicine. For more information, go to http://www.jhu.edu/chbe/gracias/

To see all current and previous year’s winners of the MRS “Science as Art“ contest, go to http://www.mrs.org/s_mrs/doc.asp?CID=1803&DID=171434#2007Fall

Future Scientists and Engineers Try Science Journalism

Graduate students Tommy Tong (foreground) and Terrence Dobrowsky during the Science Writing for Scientists and Engineers course.
Graduate students Tommy Tong (foreground) and Terrence Dobrowsky during
the Science Writing for Scientists and Engineers course. Credit: Mary Spiro / JHU

Interviewing a scientist, writing a press release, and working with reporters were just a few of the tactics students learned during the Intersession 2008 course, Science Writing for Scientists and Engineers. Intersession is a Johns Hopkins University program on the Homewood campus that gives students opportunities for academic exploration and experiential learning. The course, presented by the Institute for NanoBioTechnology, taught students the professional development skills needed to explain complex research to general audiences.

Several invited speakers provided diverse perspectives on the importance of communicating science to the public. During one class exercise, students practiced being interviewed by “reporter“ Gail Porter, director of public and business affairs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. INBT affiliated faculty member Edward Bouwer, professor and chair of the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering, conducted a “press conference“ in which he fielded questions from student “reporters“ about his new book, The Illusion of Certainty: Health Benefits and Risks, which he co-authored with Erik Rifkin.

Joann Rodgers, director of media relations and public affairs for Johns Hopkins Medicine, told the students that since most science is funded by public dollars, scientists have an obligation to communicate their work to society. Davide Castelvecchi, a writer for Science News, demonstrated how the same scientific research may be presented in very different ways by diverse news outlets. Mary Spiro, course instructor and science writer for INBT, lectured on writing techniques and provided feedback on the students’ written assignments. Homework included writing a news article, press release, faculty profile and an opinion editorial.

INBT Offers Valuable Undergraduate NanoBio Research Opportunity

Research Experience for Undergraduates poster session 2007. Credit: INBT / JHU
Research Experience for Undergraduates poster session 2007. Credit: INBT / JHU

Undergraduate research experience provides students with lasting benefits. The Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology is pleased to offer a 10-week summer NanoBio research experience for undergraduates (REU) funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

INBT’s NanoBio REU exposes students to lab-based scientific research. Students may opt to work in the research areas of biomaterials, drug/gene delivery, stem cells and cell engineering, nanofabrication, and cancer, among other topics and work side-by-side with INBT affiliated faculty and graduate mentors. They gain hands-on laboratory experience, participate in professional development seminars, and present their results at a final poster session.

In addition, students will earn a $3,500 stipend and an allowance for housing, living expenses, and the cost of travel to and from their homes to Johns Hopkins University. Applications for INBT’s NanoBio REU will be accepted until Feb. 15, 2008. Undergraduates who have completed their sophomore or junior year and who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible to apply.

Studies show that students who took advantage of such opportunities noted “gains in independence, intrinsic motivation to learn, and active participation in courses taken after the summer undergraduate research experience“ (Lopatto, 2007). A 2001 survey of 136 liberal arts colleges reported that the number of students participating in undergraduate research has risen by 70% in the last 10 years (Mervis, 2001), while those students seeking more intensive summer research program (such as the one offered by INBT) has increased by 40%.

For more information, go to http://inbt.jhu.edu/reu. Or contact education program coordinator, Ashanti Edwards, at aedwards@jhu.edu.

References
Lopatto, David (2007). Undergraduate Research Experiences Support Science Career Decisions and Active Learning. CBE Life Sci Educ 6, 297-306.
Mervis, Jeffrey (31 August 2001). Student Research: What Is It Good For?
Science 293 (5535), 1614. [DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5535.1614]

Story by Mary Spiro.

2008 Nanobio Symposium Preview: Donald Ingber


Donald Ingber, speaker at the 2008 Nanobio Symposium at Johns Hopkins University.
Credit: Harvard University

Cell Studies Inspired by Art and Engineering

It was the simple elegance of a Kenneth Snelson sculpture that inspired Harvard Medical School Professor Donald Ingber to adopt a more mechanical view of the growth and development of cells and tissue. Ingber will share some of his insights at the NanoBio Symposium on May 2, 2008, hosted by Johns Hopkins University’s Institute for NanoBioTechnology. [Read more...]

Nanoparticle-embedded microcapsules hold promise for multiple medical uses

(a) unlabeled alginate capsules, (b) alginate capsules labeled with Feridex, or ''magnetocapsules'' (note ferric oxide rust brown color).
(a) unlabeled alginate capsules, (b) alginate capsules labeled with Feridex, or
”magnetocapsules” (note ferric oxide rust brown color). Credit: Bulte Lab / JHU
[Read more...]

Graduate Students, Faculty Network at INBT Inaugural Retreat

Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology held its first annual pre-doctoral (graduate) student retreat at the Mount Washington Conference Center on Sunday, October 28, 2007.

Assistant professor David Gracias (ChemBE) describes self-assembled nanoliter containers.

Assistant professor David Gracias (ChemBE) describes self-assembled nanoliter containers.Credit: INBT / JHU

The retreat was arranged to engage students involved in both the National Science Foundation sponsored Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship—or NanoBio IGERT—and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) sponsored Interdisciplinary Graduate Training in Nanotechnology for Biology and Medicine—or NBMed Program. Four faculty members affiliated with INBT presented their research during the morning speaker session. Speakers from the School of Medicine included Douglas Robinson, assistant professor of cell biology, and Jonathan Schneck, professor of pathology. Presenters from the Whiting School of Engineering included Hai-Quan Mao, assistant professor of materials science, and David Gracias, assistant professor of chemical & biomolecular engineering. Terrence Dobrowsky, a student in the HHMI program, also presented.

From left, Craig Schneider (HHMI), Mustapha Jamal (IGERT), and assistant professor Kalina Hristova (Mat. Sci. Eng.) networking during the retreat luncheon.

From left, Craig Schneider (HHMI), Mustapha Jamal (IGERT), and assistant professor Kalina Hristova (Mat. Sci. Eng.) networking during the retreat luncheon. Credit: INBT / JHU

Denis Wirtz, associate director of INBT and professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, began the retreat by welcoming eight new students into the INBT’s graduate training programs. There are 15 students altogether in both programs, and they come from the departments of Materials Science and Engineering, Chemical an Biomolecular Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Physics, and Biology.

About 45 students and faculty participated in a lively question and answer session in the morning, a chance to network during lunch, and further discussion during the afternoon poster session. INBT wishes to thank education program coordinator Ashanti Edwards for making the institute’s inaugural retreat such a huge success.

Janice Lin (IGERT), center, takes questions from Patrick Stahl (HHMI) left, and Tania Chan (IGERT), right.

Janice Lin (IGERT), center, takes questions from Patrick Stahl (HHMI) left, and Tania Chan (IGERT), right. Credit: INBT / JHU

—-