JHU Applied Physics Lab hosting 2nd Annual Nanomaterials Symposium

The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory will host its 2nd Annual Nanomaterials Symposium on Monday, March 14 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Kossiakoff Conference and Education Center, 11100 Johns Hopkins Road, Laurel, Md. 20723-6099. Come hear stimulating talks and network with speakers, attendees, and
sponsor panelists. Includes a special session for students on postdoctoraal and internship opportunities. Submit a poster for the poster session.

The symposium is FREE for students, but $25 for all others, and lunch is included.

Deadline to register is 5 p.m. March 8. Register online here.

Invited speakers include:

  • Jonah Erlebacher, Johns Hopkins University/INBT
  • Jason Benkoski, JHU Applied Physics Laboratory/INBT
  • Lourdes Salamanca-Riba, University of Maryland College Park
  • Hai-Quan Mao, Johns Hopkins University/INBT
  • Theodosia Gougousi, University of Maryland Balitmore County
  • Gary Rubloff, University of Maryland College Park
  • Brian Holloway, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

For additional information:

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab

240-228-9166

Former nanobio summer intern featured in med school newsletter

Obafemi Ifelowo (Photo:MSpiro)

One of Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology’s 2010 summer research interns –Obafemi Ifelowo, a senior molecular biology, biochemistry and bioinformatics major at Towson University– was featured in a recent issue of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Science Newsletter. Ifelowo worked in the biomedical engineering laboratory of affiliated faculty member Jordan Green. Read more.

INBT’s summer nanobio internship is a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program funded by the National Science Foundation. The Institute supported 16 students during the summer of 2010 for 10 weeks of research in laboratories across The Johns Hopkins University campuses.  Learn more about INBT’s summer nanobio REU program  here.

INBT’s Nano-Magic appears at first USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo

The first USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo is set for October 23-24 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology will be there showcasing some of our research. More than 1,500 interactive exhibits and stage shows are planned.

INBT will present a hands-on exhibit of demonstrations dedicated to self-assembly entitled “Nano-Magic” that will allow visitors of all ages a chance to learn about now atoms, molecules and materials have ways of building structures all by themselves. Graduate students affiliated with INBT training programs will help visitors understand the science. In addition, several of the videos created by INBT’s Animation Studio will be on display on a computer monitor.

Some of the other exhibits include the science behind TRON and other Hollywood movies, baseball, superheroes, Thanksgiving dinner, and NASCAR as well as the mathematics of speed jump roping. There are also 50 stage shows featuring science musicians, comedians, and rock stars. Even the Redskins cheerleaders will be leading a pep rally for science.

Bring the whole family to this free event. Come check out our booth located at Section NM 6, Booth No. 610, along with several other Johns Hopkins affiliated exhibits listed here. Visit the official festival website to view all exhibit and stage shows, download a map of the Expo grounds, and view the entire festival calendar.

Related Link:

INBT Animation Studio

INBT’s international research program sends second team of students to Belgium

Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology supports university students to conduct research in an international setting. Their work, travel and housing expenses are funded through INBT with a National Science Foundation’s International Research Experience for Students (IRES) program and through a partnership with The Inter-University MircroElectronics Centre (IMEC) in Leuven, Belgium.

This summer, two Whiting School of Engineering students, Mike Keung, a master’s student in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Kayla Culver, a recent bachelor’s graduate in Materials Science and Engineering, spent the summer conducting research at IMEC. Additional Johns Hopkins students will be traveling to Belgium later in the year.

“Students work at IMEC’s world-class microfabrication facility and learn to design, fabricate and test chip-based platforms and integrated microelectronic systems for biomedical applications,” said INBT director Peter Searson, the Joseph R. and Lynn C. Reynolds Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. “The goal of the program is to help students gain a broader, global perspective of science and technology.”

IMEC performs world-leading research in nano-electronics and nano-technology with a staff of more than 1,750 people, including 550 industrial residents and guest researchers. The research is applied to healthcare, electronics, sustainable energy, and transportation.

Keung and Culver maintained blogs about their experiences in Europe and at IMEC. Keung, who also worked at IMEC last year through the IRES program, has written his blog for two years in a row. The blogs, reflect both the rich educational and cultural experience that the IRES program is intended to provide for participants. For example, both students conducted experiments that will enhance their careers and skill sets, as well as support the research goals of their mentors both at Johns Hopkins and at IMEC. But Keung and Culver also had the opportunity to be immersed in a different culture, travel to nearby cities and countries, and practice collaborating with scientists from around the world.

For more information about INBT IRES program click here.

Clikc on the images below to check out Mike’s and Kayla’s blogs!

 

Mike Keung’s IMEC Blog

Kayla Culver’s IMEC Blog

Story by Mary Spiro

Collaborative poster session for INBT’s REU students set for Aug. 5

Doug Robinson and John Molina discuss summer research. (Photo by Mary Spiro)

Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology hosted 16 undergraduates to conduct research in INBT affiliated laboratories this summer. On Thursday, Aug. 5, from 3-4:30 p.m. those students, plus many others who participated in short-term research projects across all JHU campuses this summer, will present their findings at a collaborative poster session in Turner Concourse at the School of Medicine. All faculty, staff, and students are invited to stop by for this informative and free event. For more information about INBT’s summer research experience for undergraduates, a National Science Foundation supported program, click here.

Nanowires Deliver Biochemical Payloads to One Cell Among Many

Imagine being able to drop a toothpick on the head of one particular person standing among 100,000 people in a sports stadium. It sounds impossible, yet this degree of precision at the cellular level has been demonstrated by researchers affiliated with The Johns Hopkins University Institute for NanoBioTechnology. Their study was published online in June in Nature Nanotechnology.

Arrow points to nanowire placed on cell surface. (Image: Levchenko/Chien labs)

The team used precise electrical fields as “tweezers” to guide and place gold nanowires, each about one-two hundredth the size of a cell, on predetermined spots, each on a single cell. Molecules coating the surfaces of the nanowires then triggered a biochemical cascade of actions only in the cell where the wire touched, without affecting other cells nearby. The researchers say this technique could lead to better ways of studying individual cells or even cell parts, and eventually could produce novel methods of delivering medication.

Indeed, the techniques not relying on this new nanowire-based technology either are not very precise, leading to stimulation of multiple cells, or require complex biochemical alterations of the cells. With the new technique the researchers can, for instance, target cells that have cancer properties (higher cell division rate or abnormal morphology), while sparing their healthy neighbors.

“One of the biggest challenges in cell biology is the ability to manipulate the cell environment in as precise a way as possible,” said principal investigator Andre Levchenko, an associate professor of biomedical engineering in Johns Hopkins’ Whiting School of Engineering. In previous studies, Levchenko has used lab-on-a-chip or microfluidic devices to manipulate cell behavior. But, he said, lab-on-a-chip methods are not as precise as researchers would like them to be. “In microfluidic chips, if you alter the cell environment, it affects all the cells at the same time,” he said.

Such is not the case with the gold nanowires, which are metallic cylinders a few hundred nanometers or smaller in diameter. Just as the unsuspecting sports spectator would feel only a light touch from a toothpick being dropped on the head, the cell reacts only to the molecules released from the nanowire in one very precise place where the wire touches the cell’s surface.

With contributions from Chia-Ling Chien, a professor of physics and astronomy in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, and Robert Cammarata, a professor of materials science and engineering in the Whiting School, the team developed nanowires coated with a molecule called tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF?), a substance released by pathogen-gobbling macrophages, commonly called white blood cells. Under certain cellular conditions, the presence of TNF? triggers cells to switch on genes that help fight infection, but TNF? also is capable of blocking tumor growth and halting viral replication.

Exposure to too much TNF?, however, causes an organism to go into a potentially lethal state called septic shock, Levchenko said. Fortunately, TNF? stays put once it is released from the wire to the cell surface, and because the effect of TNF? is localized, the tiny bit delivered by the wire is enough to trigger the desired cellular response. Much the same thing happens when TNF? is excreted by a white blood cell.

Additionally, the coating of TNF? gives the nanowire a negative charge, making the wire easier to maneuver via the two perpendicular electrical fields of the “tweezer” device, a technique developed by Donglei Fan as part of her Johns Hopkins doctoral research in materials science and engineering. “The electric tweezers were initially developed to assemble, transport and rotate nanowires in solution,” Cammarata said. “Donglei then showed how to use the tweezers to produce patterned nanowire arrays as well as construct nanomotors and nano-oscillators. This new work with Dr. Levchenko’s group demonstrates just how extremely versatile a technique it is.”

To test the system, the team cultured cervical cancer cells in a dish. Then, using electrical fields perpendicular to one another, they were able to zap the nanowires into a pre-set spot and plop them down in a precise location. “In this way, we can predetermine the path that the wires will travel and deliver a molecular payload to a single cell among many, and even to a specific part of the cell,” Levchenko said.

During the course of this study, the team also established that the desired effect generated by the nanowire-delivered TNF? was similar to that experienced by a cell in a living organism.

The team members envision many possibilities for this method of subcellular molecule delivery. “For example, there are many other ways to trigger the release of the molecule from the wires: photo release, chemical release, temperature release. Furthermore, one could attach many molecules to the nanowires at the same time,” Levchenko said. He added that the nanowires can be made much smaller, but said that for this study the wires were made large enough to see with optical microscopy.

Ultimately, Levchenko sees the nanowires becoming a useful tool for basic research. “With these wires, we are trying to mimic the way that cells talk to each other,” he said. “They could be a wonderful tool that could be used in fundamental or applied research.” Drug delivery applications could be much further off. However, Levchenko said, “If the wires retain their negative charge, electrical fields could be used to manipulate and maneuver their position in the living tissue.”

The lead authors for this Nature Nanotechnology article were Fan, a former postdoctoral fellow in the departments of materials science and engineering and in physics and astronomy; and Zhizhong Yin, a former postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. The co-authors included Raymond Cheong, a doctoral student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering; and Frank Q. Zhu, a former doctoral student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Regarding the faculty members’ participation, Chien led the group that developed the electric tweezers technique and collaborated with Levchenko on its biological applications.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology

ACS Nano editor leads June 30 INBT seminar

Penelope Lewis, acquisitions editor for the journal ACS Nano will lead the next professional development seminar for Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology (INBT) on June 30 at 11 a.m. in Maryland 110. These seminars aim to expand students’ knowledge of issues and ideas relevant to but outside of the laboratory and classroom experience.

Penelope Lewis

Lewis, acquisitions editor of the American Chemical Society’s journal, ACS Nano. Lewis, earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from Penn State University. She will talk about her experience as a scientist moving into the world of academic publishing.

“A career in scholarly publishing can be an interesting and rewarding path for graduate students or post-docs who are looking to move away from the lab bench but still be surrounded by scientific research. In scientific publishing, a doctoral degree or a postdoc is always a great strength and for many positions a requirement. In this talk, I will describe the daily activities involved in working at a non-profit publisher, including the skills and interests that are helpful to succeed in this position,” Lewis said.

All JHU/JHMI and APL faculty, staff and students are invited to attend these free seminars, designed to promote discussion and interaction with scientific and engineering professionals. To find out the location and to RSVP for each seminar, please contact Ashanti Edwards at ashanti@jhu.edu.

Lights! Camera! Science!

 

INBT Web Director Martin Rietveld works on protocol video with PhD student Yu-Ja Huang. (Photo:MSpiro)

Everything about movie making seems so glamorous. From beautiful stars to special effects, making films might appear magical. But actually, when you break it down, shooting a film is not unlike performing experiments in a lab. And, just as reading the script would be far less entertaining as seeing a film, reading a protocol might be confusing until the steps were performed in real life.

That’s the philosophy behind a new effort at Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology: produce short films describing recently published research and the protocols that go with them. The movies are produced collaboratively with INBT’s science writer Mary Spiro, INBT’s Animation Studio director Martin Rietveld, and the scientists and engineers involved.

The INBT Animation Studio already has several research-oriented films to its credit. The animation skills of Rietveld and his student crew have taken us inside a lipid bilayer and carried us along a fiber of collagen. INBT also has produced several video news releases using the talent of students in the annual science communication course.

Recently, however, INBT produced its first film describing a protocol from Nature Methods. Investigators Bridget Wildt, a PhD in materials science and engineering, Peter Searson, Reynolds Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and Denis Wirtz, Smoot Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, served as technical consultants for the production. The research was part of Johns Hopkins Engineering in Oncology Center, of which Wirtz is the director.

Materials science and engineering PhD candidate Yu-Ja Huang performs each step in assembling the Hopkins team’s device and demonstrates how to conduct programmed cell detachment experiments. “Studying cell detachment at the subcellular level is critical to understanding the way cancer cells metastasize,” Searson said. “Development of scientific methods to study cell detachment may guide us to prevent, limit or slow down the deadly spreading of cancer cells.”

Using a draft script developed by Wildt and Searson, Spiro simplified the text further for narrator, materials science and engineering PhD candidate Andrew Wong. Rietveld recorded Huang as he performed the protocol and refined the script further during filming. Viewing the final cut, Wong was able to read the script in a conversational and friendly tone.

You can watch the version of this new protocol video on INBT’s YouTube channel. The film may never earn an Academy Award, but we hope it will help specialists, and even the general public, to understand this unusual and complex procedure.

Related Links:

Check our INBT’s channel on YouTube.

Engineering in Oncology Center

Story by Mary Spiro

Professional development seminars kick off with talks on tech transfer, publishing

Aris Melissaratos

UPDATED TIMES AND LOCATIONS

Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology (INBT) will host four free professional development seminars for scientists and engineers this summer. These seminars aim to expand students’ knowledge of issues and ideas relevant to but outside of the laboratory and classroom experience.

Topics include intellectual property, commercialization and entrepreneurship, science journalism and publishing, ‘life after college” and much more. This summer, talks will be held Wednesdays at 11 a.m. on June 16, June 30, July 14 and July 28. Talks on June 16 and June 30 will be held in Maryland 110; talks on July 14 and July 28 will move to Ames 234.

Talks scheduled so far include:

June 16: Aris Melissaratos, senior advisor to the president from Johns Hopkins University Technology Transfer, will discuss what it takes for an research idea to move from bench to the commercial market. Johns Hopkins Technology Transfer is the office that links university researchers and businesses interested in commercializing their inventions.

June 30:  Penelope Lewis, acquisitions editor of the American Chemical Society’s journal, ACS Nano. Lewis, who earned a PhD in Chemistry from Penn State University, will talk about her experience as a scientist moving into the world of academic publishing.

Penelope Lewis

“A career in scholarly publishing can be an interesting and rewarding path for graduate students or postdocs who are looking to move away from the lab bench but still be surrounded by scientific research. In scientific publishing, a doctoral degree or a postdoc is always a great strength and for many positions a requirement. In this talk, I will describe the daily activities involved in working at a non-profit publisher, including the skills and interests that are helpful to succeed in this position,” Lewis said.

All JHU/JHMI and APL faculty, staff and students are invited to attend these free seminars designed to promote discussion and interaction with scientific and engineering professionals. To find out the location and to RSVP for each seminar, please contact Ashanti Edwards at ashanti@jhu.edu.

First annual NCI physical sciences-oncology center investigators’ meeting held

Bryan Smith (Stanford) and Christopher Hale (JHU) shared a PS-OC Young Investigators’ Trans Network Award. (Photo/Mary Spiro)

The First Annual Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers Network Investigators’ Meeting was held April 5-7, at the National Harbor in Washington, D.C. Johns Hopkins Engineering in Oncology Center director Denis Wirtz, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering,  presented a tutorial on particle tracking, presented a talk on mechanobiology, and chaired a panel discussion on cancer cell mechanics.

In addition, several researchers affiliated with the EOC were awarded Young Investigators Trans-Network Project Awards. Wirtz’s doctoral student Christopher Hale, working with Bryan Smith of Stanford University, was recognized for the poster presentation “Tracking the Mechanics of Cancer in Living Subjects Using Intracellular Nanorheology.” Wirtz’s postdoctoral fellow Daniele Gilkes, working with colleagues at Cornell University, earned accolades for the poster presentation “Synergistic Effects of Hypoxia and Substrate Stiffness on Cancer Cell Force Generation.”

A total of 13 research posters from Johns Hopkins PS-OC were presented at the three-day meeting.