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Table of Contents education

research   4 Collaborative Research Yields Innovative Solutions   5

Core Research Areas

  6 Machine Learning to Shape Up Stem Cells   7

New Biomaterials Engineer Joins the INBT Team

  8 Reducing STD Cases and Antimicrobial Resistance   9 Improvements Toward Cystic Fibrosis Testing 10

New Targeted Drug Delivery Expert Joins INBT

18 A Summer of Science Abroad 21 Student Awards 22

Alumni Achievements


Counseled by Renowned Scholars

outreach 24 Continued Success in Undergraduate Outreach Programs 25 Undergraduate Research Symposium 26 Advanced Biomanufacturing: Highlights of the 12th Annual Nano-Bio Symposium

11 Standardizing Cell Mechanics Aids Cancer Research 12

Bloomberg Distinguished Professor Joins INBT Team

translation 14

Renovating INBT’s Translation Programs


Joint Forum Collaboration

pg 26

17 Co-Op Program Continues to Gain Popularity

About this Magazine Johns Hopkins Nano-Bio Report Editor-in-Chief Gina Wadas Graphic Designer Maureen Punte Contributing Writers Aniruddha Kaushik, Luke Thorstenson, Gina Wadas, Rachel Wallach Photograph and/or Design Contributors Doug Behr, Luo Gu, Jon French, imec, Hasini Jayatilaka, Aniruddha Kaushik, Will Kirk, Natalie Livingston, Jerry S.H. Lee, Peter Searson, Martin Rietveld, Quinton Smith, Gina Wadas, and Jeff Wang

We encourage your comments and feedback. Send correspondence to: Johns Hopkins University Institute for NanoBioTechnology Suite 100, Croft Hall 3400 North Charles Street Baltimore, MD 21218 410-516-5634 Follow INBT on social media:

Letter from the Directors Welcome to the latest edition of the INBT Nano-Bio Report. We experienced another exciting year in 2018 and express our deepest gratitude to those that made it possible. We made exceptional developments in growing our faculty size, education programs, and renovating our translational initiatives and are happy to share some of those with you. Tom Fekete, our director of corporate partnerships, retired this summer. Tom was instrumental in building corporate and industry relationships with our researchers. Before retiring, Tom, also a Hopkins alum in chemical engineering, and his wife gave a generous gift to INBT. The Tom and Lois Fekete Undergraduate Researcher Award will be presented over the next five years to the undergraduate who wins best poster at our annual Nano-Bio Symposium. That symposium, which started 12 years ago, has continued to grow and is a success on multiple fronts. This year’s symposium, Advanced Biomanufacturing, had a record number of attendees, posters presented, industry participation, and corporate-sponsored awards. Educating the next generation of leaders through a wide range of research and training opportunities is a major component of our mission. Our competitive NSF-sponsored REU program in nanotechnology was renewed for an additional three years. The number of industry participants in our Master’s Co-Op Program has doubled, and there has been a consistent increase in the number of students applying. Professor Efie Kokkoli and Bloomberg Distinguished Professor Michael Tsapatsis joined our core faculty group. Experts in drug and gene delivery, and nanomaterials and reaction engineering, respectively, Kokkoli and Tsapatsis and their research teams will help push scientific exploration further. Our mission to uncover new knowledge in nano and bio fields, and to create innovative technologies to pioneer solutions that make the world better is as steadfast as ever. We couldn’t achieve these goals without the dedicated individuals who work at and with INBT. We are poised for another year of discovery, and hope you join us.

Sharon Gerecht Director

Hai-Quan Mao Associate Director

“We couldn’t achieve these goals without the dedicated individuals who work at and with INBT.”

Collaborative Research Yields Innovative Solutions The Institute for NanoBioTechnology at Johns Hopkins University is an exceptionally diverse, multidisciplinary team of faculty, researchers, and student experts using their collective skills and knowledge to push research boundaries. Working together at the interfaces of nanoscience, engineering, biology, and medicine, their results help to uncover new knowledge, create innovative technologies, and pioneer new ways to solve some of the most complex challenges in healthcare and the environment.


Faculty Researchers from





Visiting Lecturers

Hopkins Schools

Funding Sources by Dollar Amount

Funding Sources by Type

52% Federal Entities

48% Non-Federal Entities

4  research

For Number and Dollar Amount of Research Grants Submitted and Research Spending at the Whiting School of Engineering

36% Federal Entities

64% Non-Federal Entities

or Cancer Th ng f era i r e pie e n gi



Core Research Areas

Engineering tive a r e en g e

Tools Engine stic e r no e df ag o Di

on etecti yD arl rE

Stem Cel ls a nd R Core Faculty

Associate Faculty

Affiliate Faculty

  research  5

Machine Learning to Shape Up Stem Cells To understand how cells in the body behave, bioengineers create miniature models of the cells’ environments in their labs. But recreating this environment is complex in a controlled setting, because researchers are still learning what influences cell behavior and growth. By observing and then modifying their engineered mini-models, scientists are better able to identify those factors. This modeling is essential to studying regenerative medicine, which focuses on replacing or repairing damaged tissue, often through the use of stem cells, a population of cells that can create all body tissues. The central question of regenerative medicine is what causes stem cells to grow, organize, and mature from a small population of cells to complex organs? To find an answer, INBT researchers in Sharon Gerecht’s and Sean Sun’s labs borrowed a process commonly used in the electronics Machine learning industry called micropatterning, in which miniaturizing shapes increases circuit unveils the roles transistor numbers.The team created micropatterned shapes, coupled with machine learning, to see how confinement influences stem cell maturation and organization. of cell density

and tension on hiSPC’s selforganization in micropatterned shapes.

The team placed human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiSPCs) in star, circle, triangle, and heart shaped patterns and watched them migrate and fill the patterns. Interestingly, the patterns’ edges became densely packed with cells that organized and matured differently than cells in the center, and expressed precursor markers that create cardiovascular tissue. Additionally, the team discovered a balance between cell tension and cell population density. As cells became more crowded at the patterns’ edges, they experienced more tension than the cells in the interior, which seemed to trigger self-organization and the expression of those precursors.When there is no cell tension, self-organization won’t happen, indicating that mechanical confinement plays an important role in cell growth and behavior. Observing self-organization in the lab provides a window into a complex process that occurs during human development. The study advances the goal to one day repair damaged tissues using a patient’s own cells. While this is only one example, this technology can be applied to understanding the organization of a wide range of tissue development.  

6  research: stem cells and regenerative engineering

New Biomaterials Engineer Joins the INBT Team New to the INBT team is Luo Gu, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering. Gu’s research group studies how cells sense and respond to the chemical and mechanical cues from their microenvironment. Their results are used to design and create new biomaterials that provide desirable signals in a spatiotemporally controlled manner to direct cell behavior and function. Gu’s research includes developing tissue-like viscoelastic biomaterials to investigate the role of matrix mechanics in stem cell biology and tissue regeneration, engineering tumor microenvironment with stimuli-responsive biomaterials for cancer immunotherapy, and creating new nanomaterials for gene editing. “I am fortunate to be a part of INBT and its exciting and collaborative community. My colleagues are doing fascinating research in various areas of engineering, biology, medicine, and their interfaces, so I often learn something new from them and have many opportunities for collaboration. Additionally, the faculty and staff have been very supportive, which made my start at Hopkins a lot smoother,” said Gu. Gu received his bachelor’s of science degree in chemistry from Peking University, his master’s of science degree in chemistry and his PhD in chemistry with specialization in multi-scale biology from UC San Diego. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Johns A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and its Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. 

Mesenchymal stem cells cultured in a viscoelastic 3-D hydrogel. The hydrogels’ viscoelastic properties direct stem cell differentiation.

  research: stem cells and regenerative engineering  7

Reducing STD Cases and Antimicrobial Resistance

Sexually transmitted infections are rising worldwide, and some microbial strains have become resistant to antibiotics commonly used to treat them. To combat this, Jeff Wang is leading a team with Charlotte Gaydos to create a device that rapidly tests for gonorrhea and detects if that bacterial strain is resistant to antibiotics. “The tool will help physicians personalize treatments to individual infections rather than using the current uniform approach, which is thought to influence antimicrobial resistance,” Wang said, INBT core faculty member and professor of mechanical engineering. “The device analyzes gonorrhea’s phenotype and specific DNA markers to detect its antimicrobial susceptibility. The results will tell if a patient is infected, and if so, which medications are best suited for treatment.”

“This device is a game changer because receiving results quickly and knowing resistance susceptibility allows us to create precision-directed therapy,” said Gaydos, a professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for the Development of Pointof-Care Tests for Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Testing can also identify if antibiotics previously recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will work. “This means we can save some of the stronger medications for when they are really needed and try to reduce antimicrobial resistance,” said Gaydos. Current testing modalities can take 24 to 48 hours. As a result, patients tested in clinics and emergency rooms leave without knowing whether they are infected, and some never follow up. This puts them at risk of spreading gonorrhea unknowingly—especially important since 40 percent of patients are asymptomatic. The new device cuts testing time to one hour or less, meaning patients can get their results quickly and can begin treatment almost immediately. The team believes their device could also help track antibiotic resistance by region, treatment trends, antimicrobial susceptibility, and infections—data that could be helpful and reported to the CDC and the World Health Organization. 

8  research: diagnostic tools engineered for early detection

Improvements Toward Cystic Fibrosis Testing tubes, ducts, and passageways in organs such as the lungs and pancreas. The thick fluids also make it easy for bacteria to grow, therefore increasing the possibility of infections.

Peter Searson was awarded funding to commercialize a wearable sensor that measures chloride ion concentrations in sweat for cystic fibrosis testing. Chloride ions are a biomarker for cystic fibrosis and the gold standard for diagnosis and disease management. Current testing, though, is time-consuming, and obtaining results can take several days. Also, collecting an adequate volume of sweat can be challenging, especially with infants and young children, resulting in testing errors.

The award will help Searson, core faculty member at INBT and Joseph R. and Lynn C. Reynolds Professor of Materials Science and Engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering, and his team, including postdoctoral fellow Dong-Hoon Choi, advance their work on the wearable device. The real time measurements it provides will make testing more time and cost efficient. Also, chloride ions are a biomarker for electrolyte loss, making the wearable sensor suited for monitoring athletes and individuals working in hot environments.  

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that affects secretory glands, which produce mucus, sweat, and digestive fluids. These fluids are normally thin and act as a lubricant. In people with cystic fibrosis, however, those fluids are thick and sticky, causing blockages in

  research: diagnostic tools engineered for early detection  9

Stories sponsored by the Physical Sciences-Oncology Center

New Targeted Drug Delivery Expert Joins INBT Efie Kokkoli, a targeted drug delivery specialist, joined the INBT and the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering faculty as professor on September 1. Kokkoli arrives from the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota, where she served as professor, Shell Land Grant Chair, and director of undergraduate studies. 

“When you think about Johns Hopkins, it’s the mecca of bio,” said Kokkoli. “It will be like my playground, an opportunity to get involved in new problems, to brainstorm and develop ideas about designing new materials. I really look forward to the new collaborations I will hopefully establish there. It’s also great to be part of INBT. I really love the atmosphere and all the people that make this a special place.”

Kokkoli’s research focuses on the areas of DNA nanotechnology, multi-targeted gene and drug delivery, and the design of biopolymers and responsive hydrogels. With the goal of directing nanoparticles capable of carrying cancer drugs to tumor sites while sparing non-cancerous areas, her group concentrates on designing biomaterials ranging from polymeric nanoparticles to DNA nanotubes that respond best under certain conditions, like temperature or pH, and have specificity for cancer cells. Her team looks for specific interactions be- Kokkoli earned an undergraduate degree tween cancer cells and nanoparticles. in chemical engineering from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, and Her move to Johns Hopkins and INBT a master’s and PhD at the University of will facilitate the next step in her research, Illinois at Urbana-Champaign under the Kokkoli says. The opportunities to collabdirection of Chip Zukoski. She did her orate across the Whiting School and with postdoc with Matt Tirrell at the University researchers at the School of Medicine will of Minnesota and the University of Caligenerate new ideas and allow her work to fornia, Santa Barbara. She has received the become more translational, she says. Camille Dreyfus Teacher Scholar Award and an NSF CAREER Award, and was inducted into the AIMBE College of Fellows.  

10  research: engineering for cancer therapies

Standardizing Cell Mechanics Aids Cancer Research

A cell’s properties—the way it moves, its shape, its texture, and its stiffness—impact human development, the immune response, and cancer progression. But researchers studying those cell mechanics often wind up with different results than their colleagues because of different measurement techniques, leading to confusion and delaying potential breakthroughs in cancer treatment and immunotherapy.

cell stiffness and how readily they metastasize. More generally, cell mechanics offers insight into how cells are actually behaving, rather than what they are capable of doing. As the field has grown, a wide range of approaches to measurement developed, so Wirtz says, it’s time to “push pause” and standardize the most appropriate techniques. Unifying the maturing field around a common set of approaches will make cell mechanics more valuable to the larger cancer research community.

The researchers compared measurement methods by probing the same cell type using multiple techniques, which required minimizing biological variation. With co-authors across the U.S., France, and Germany, this was not an easy feat, but all researchers used the same line from the same batch of cells. In at least one example with breast canDenis Wirtz, core faculty member at INBT, cer cells, they found measurement variations Vice Provost for Research, and Theophilus up to 1,000-fold. Variations included the levHalley Smoot Professor in the Department el of applied mechanical stress, deformation of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineer- rate, the geometry of the probe, the location ing, Pei-Hsun Wu, INBT researcher, and col- probed in the cell, and the extracellular mileagues analyzed measurements obtained by croenvironment. some of the most common methods and The study’s result is a measurement variation discussed the importance of selecting an catalog among common techniques, paving appropriate technique for the biological issue the way for standardized protocols that yield being investigated. consistent results across researchers and a clear Cell mechanics is crucial in cancer research; way forward for the field.  there is a strong correlation between tumor

  research: engineering for cancer therapies  11

Bloomberg Distinguished Professor Joins INBT Team Michael Tsapatsis, a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, joined the INBT team in September. He also has appointments in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Applied Physics Laboratory. Tsapatsis, a chemical engineer and materials scientist, is an expert in molecular sieve membrane, adsorbent, and catalyst synthesis. His interests lie in reaction engineering, catalysis, separations, transport phenomena, and process and product design with an emphasis on energy efficiency and process intensification. Tsapatsis combines principles of reaction engineering, mathematical modelling, and materials science with the longterm goal of making industrial production of chemicals both cleaner and more energy efficient. His research group is designing, synthesizing, and testing materials that will achieve these objectives while remaining low-cost, reliable, and efficient to meet a chemical plant’s production needs when brought to scale.The group is also targeting the development of new chemical pathways, including those for the production of chemicals from renewable sources. His group’s research is interdisciplinary and strengthened by collaborations with experts in high resolution imaging, computational chemistry, and process synthesis/design/optimization to achieve specific reaction engineering goals and to advance the frontiers of materials science and inorganic chemistry. Before joining Hopkins, Tsapatsis was a faculty member in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for nine years, followed by 15 years at the University of Minnesota, where he held the Amundson Chair and the McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. Tsapatsis received an Engineering Diploma from The University of Patras, Greece, and a master’s and PhD degrees from the California Institute of Technology, where he worked with G.R. Gavalas and was a post-doctoral fellow with M.E. Davis. Tsapatsis was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2015. He is a recipient of the Breck Award from the International Zeolite Association, the Alpha Chi Sigma Award for Chemical Engineering Research, and the Charles M.A. Stine Award for Materials Engineering & Sciences from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.  

12  research

Renovating INBT’s Translation Programs In 2016, when Sharon Gerecht and Hai-Quan Mao became INBT’s new leaders, they wanted to renovate the institute’s translational programs. While this can be done in many ways, we decided that some of our goals would include increasing the number of industry sponsored research projects, use INBT intellectual property to increase spin-out companies, and develop more industry specific programming and resources for faculty and students. Why is industry sponsorship so important in higher education and research? While HopWhen I joined INBT in June as the new di- kins continues to lead the nation in research rector of corporate partnerships, I was excited spending for the 39th year in a row, there is to learn firsthand from the faculty about their a concern about the stability of federal fundresearch. As I spoke with them, one phrase al- ing in higher education. In fiscal year 2017, 85 ways came up; translational research. This was percent of JHU’s research spending came from exciting to hear because in my previous role as federal money. According to the American Somarket strategy analyst at Hitachi Chemical, I cieties for Experimental Biology Federation, evaluated new technologies (and their associat- between fiscal years 2003 to 2015, the National ed markets) from academia, industry, and gov- Institutes of Health’s (NIH) research funding ernment sources. I was aptly prepared to further was reduced by 22 percent. In 2019, drafted federal budgets for NIH were initially reduced expand INBT’s research into the marketplace. by 27 percent, but settled on a 5.4 percent inIf you ask 10 people what translational research crease. If federal research funding is reduced, it means, you will get 10 different, albeit similar, will affect research spending at Hopkins and answers. In its most general sense, translation therefore INBT. puts theory into practice. At INBT, that historically meant corporate sponsored research One advantage for academics in partnering agreements, industrial educational partnership with industry is that funding for research does programs, corporate research fellowships, and not depend on balancing the federal budget, a corporate affiliate program. These activities or legislative efficiency. INBT has worked with earned INBT its well-deserved reputation industry partners for over 10 years, learning as the center of translational activities at the and building from each experience to deliver innovative and consistent results that industry Whiting School of Engineering. partners demand. By Luke Thorstenson

14  translation

Licensing intellectual property to organizations outside of JHU is another way for faculty and students to get involved with industry. At JHU, this process is managed by Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures (JHTV). Among the services they offer, JHTV can help researchers decide whether forming a start-up company with their research is viable. If a new company is viable, express licensing terms for faculty can make the process much more stress free. At INBT, we support these initiatives for our faculty and students and look to provide additional support and guidance to supplement the existing JHTV programs. Educational programming and a greater emphasis on supporting faculty entrepreneurship often go hand in hand. For example, the FastForward innovation hub within JHTV hosts regular education workshops to help faculty develop entrepreneurial skills (start-up management, strategy, etc.). INBT wants to build off these internal and external programs (for example, NSF’s Innovation Corps) with our

own programming for faculty and students. Some of our new programs in development include translational research workshops and seminars with speakers from other universities, government organizations (FDA, CMS, DARPA), capital providers (TEDCO, VCs, foundations), and our industry partners. For students, we’ve developed similar opportunities to not only explore options regarding their research, but also provide information about careers outside of academia. Soon, I’ll be participating in President Daniel’s Commercial Advisory Group to develop a unified strategy for industry engagement between all university and health system schools. In this role, I’ll share some of INBT’s translational success stories from the past 10 years, and solicit feedback on how to improve our industry engagement plan and our educational programs. Overall, we hope the changes at INBT will enhance our visibility, and strengthen our role within the Whiting School of Engineering as we continue to grow as an institute.   INBT’s former director of corporate partnerships, Tom Fekete, retired after 10 years of building robust bridges between the academic and commercial worlds at the Institute.

“I always believed the connections and friendships we make are perhaps the most important measures of personal success. I hope I was able to bring value to INBT’s unique multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and to enrich the experience that our students aspire to achieve,” said Fekete.

  translation  15

Joint Forum Collaboration INBT researchers not only uncover new

Chris Langsdorf and Jihad Skaf of Thermo Fisher discussed the tools, software, and other applications that play a crucial part in measuring a multitude of data about a patient’s immune system and the effectiveness of treatments. INBT faculty members Luo Gu and Jonathan Schneck spoke about their research in biology and reverse engineering to study cancer cells and the immune system on the microscale. NexImmune CEO Scott Carmer and Ivan Borrello from the Sidney Kimmel The Immuno-Oncology Technology forum, Cancer Center spoke at the forum as well. jointly hosted by INBT and Thermo Fisher Scientific in June, provided Hopkins re- The event aimed to merge joint interests and searchers with information about developing identify mutually beneficial collaborative projsupport technologies, and provided Thermo ects. It also provided the audience of researchers, Fisher R&D leaders with a better understand- physicians, and students, with information on the ing of research needs and trends in cancer im- status of and the challenges involved in advancmunotherapy—using the body’s own immune ing cancer immunotherapy and making it a more system to treat cancer. viable and stable precision-directed therapy.  knowledge and create innovative technologies through collaborations with experts from many scientific disciplines, but they also do this through collaborations with experts from many organizations. To ensure that emerging technologies and knowledge moves forward in academia, and eventually into the marketplace, partnerships with industry counterparts are needed.

Recent Translational Achievements by INBT Faculty 174




Inventor Disclosures

New Companies Formed

Patents Granted

Patents Licensed

16  translation

Co-Op Program Continues to Gain Popularity

Participating Companies

The Master’s Cooperative Education Program is unlike typical academic programs. Along with providing students with an academic education, it places students in companies, where they translate theories they learned in the classroom into real-world, marketable products. Working in the business world helps students gain experience, build technical skills, and network. They even earn college credit and a salary while employed. Student and company participation in the program has increased steadily since it started in 2016, thanks to its reputation for providing a well-rounded mix of academic and business skills. Initially available only to students majoring in materials science and engineering, and chemical and biomolecular engineering, the program is now open to mechanical engineering majors, as well.The new, streamlined application process allows students to apply directly as part of their graduate school application. As the program’s popularity rises, INBT and its industry partners will strive to continue offering participating students a range of challenging projects. Current participating companies offer students the chance to work on projects in pharmaceuticals, biopharmaceuticals, personal care products, biotech products, specialty materials and chemicals for products, and systems engineering and integration. 

  translation  17

A Summer of Science Abroad An international collaboration with Johns Hopkins University and imec allows three to five JHU students to do biomedical research in imec’s labs in Leuven, Belgium.

 Joining forces “Imec was already established in silicon nanotechnology research and looking to expand into the healthcare field. It was an ideal stepping stone to collaborate with Johns Hopkins University’s (JHU) newly founded Institute for NanoBioTechnology (INBT),” says Tom Fekete, now retired director of corporate partnerships at INBT. INBT brings experts in nanoscience, engineering, and medicine together and forms the bridge between nanotechnology and medicine at JHU. Peter Searson, IRES program principal investigator and co-founder of INBT: “Imec and INBT explored several ideas and the IRES program was a great starting point. IRES is funded by the National Science Foundation and provides an international research and cultural experience for American students. We added another layer to the program by having students work on mutual interest projects.”

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Since 2009, INBT has sent students to work on microelectronics and nanoelectronics primarily in imec’s life science department. Liesbet Lagae, co-founder and program director of Life Science Technologies in imec: “It was clear that if imec wanted to get a foothold in the life sciences, they needed a partnership with a premier medical institution. The student program was a concrete way of accomplishing that with a win-win for both parties: INBT students have access to imec’s infrastructure and technology, while imec receives top students that have a clear medical application in mind.”

 An international experience… Searson: “The first important aspect is to provide students with an international experience since STEM research continues to become a global community. Having work experience outside the U.S. is incredibly helpful to grow

as a researcher. Imec is a large international hub for researchers, students, and residents that maximizes the students’ exposure to the multi-cultural community.” Lagae: “For us, it is a way to expose ourselves to the current research climate in American biomedical research.We already maintain close relationships with the European medical institutes and are in daily contact with the University Hospital in Leuven. Johns Hopkins is the ideal medical connection to also stay in touch with trends in the American medical world.”

 …and so much more Fekete: “Students get an incredible experience because imec is a world-class research and translational organization. Students benefit from dual mentoring with imec and Hopkins experts and leave the program with more con-

fidence about their skills and knowledge, and a new network of international contacts. Additionally, we receive feedback from imec that Hopkins students are independent, have great lab skills, and are self-motivated. Imec receives students from all over the world, and this lets INBT know that we are properly preparing students for successful careers.”  Lagae:“Not only the JHU students, but also the imec students learn from the summer program by getting exposure to American practices. One striking example is that U.S. students are fantastic presenters. They have been trained their whole life to communicate their research in a clear way. Maybe we should prepare students in Belgium in a similar way? Undoubtedly, they learn a lot by observing their American colleagues. It is these differences in the way research is performed and in scientific culture that makes the program an added value for each student and for the supervisors.”

 A fruitful collaboration Lagae: “A good relationship with a JHU promoter is vital for valorizing the summer research. A nice illustration of a successful collaboration was a joint project with the Konstantopoulos lab at INBT, which investigates cancer cell movement in confined microenvironments. Imaging the cell’s movement required sophisticated, albeit, expensive and complex, methods. At the same time, imec was creating a compact, lens-free microscope system to track cell movement in real time. By adding an inexpensive, robust technical solution to a clinical problem, JHU’s experiments could be performed with increased throughput. At the project’s end, students from both institutions published their results in a paper supported by JHU and imec supervisors.” Continued on page 20

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Continued from page 19

The summer internships 2.0

will be a challenge for the new organizational team.”

Fekete: “We would like to have more students and researchers from imec perform research and collaborate at INBT as we have in the past. We are also exploring other research and translational opportunities with imec. With a mutual interest in health care, there is a logical collaboration in these areas.”

The program will continue, albeit, with a new team. Tom Fekete handed over the reins to INBT’s new director of corporate partnerships, Luke Thorstenson, and will work with Peter Searson on JHU’s and INBT’s side. On imec’s side, Liesbet Lagae has passed on the baton to R&D manager of Life Sciences Dries Braeken.  

Lagae: “It is still a dream to expand our program and couple it to industry. One of the possibilities is an industrial mentorship or sponsorship. The question of how to organize such an industrial collaboration in practice

Read the full, unabridged article at news. This article originally appeared in the July 2018 issue of imec Magazine.

Student Distribution at INBT 13% 10% Undergraduates



Masters PhD candidates





20  education

Research Experience for Undergraduates Student Interns

Student Awards John Hickey (top), PhD candidate in biomedical engineering, was announced as a 2019 Siebel Scholar recipient. Siebel scholarships are prestigious awards that honor about 100 of the top graduate students nationwide in business, bioengineering, computer science, and energy science programs. Hickey will receive a $35,000 award for his final year of studies in cancer immunotherapy research. Natalie Livingston (second from top) and Raleigh Linville (second from bottom), both PhD candidates in biomedical engineering, are awardees of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. The GRFP supports graduate research training and provides three years of financial support, which includes a $34,000 annual stipend and a $12,000 education allowance. Livingston also received a young scientists award from the Turock Family Foundation. Her research aims to create a platform that will improve sensory and motor functions for those wearing prosthetics. Linville’s research focuses on tissue engineering models of the human blood-brain barrier. Bria Macklin (bottom), PhD candidate in chemical and biomolecular engineering, received a F31 Fellowship from the National Institutes of Health for her research with stem-cell derived vascular cells. The fellowship is designed to support doctoral students with supervised research training, and will allow Macklin some financial freedom in the direction she takes her research. 

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Alumni Achievements Hasini Jayatilaka BS (’13) and PhD (’16), Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Hasini received worldwide recognition for her research into the causes of cancer metastasis, and for formulating a cocktail of drugs that slows—and in some cases, stop—cancer from spreading. Since her research was published in Nature Communications in May 2017, more than 1 million people have viewed her TED Talk describing how cancer cells communicate. She also appeared on Forbes 2019 “30 Under 30” list for science. Hasini is now a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics.

Quinton Smith PhD (’17), Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering INBT Research Experience for Undergraduate Student Fellow (summer ’10 and ’11) Quinton was one of 15 early career scientists selected as a 2018 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Hanna Gray Fellow to support diversity in science. He will receive up to $1.4 million in funding over eight years. His research focuses on using stem cells and microfluidics to study the biliary tree within the liver with hopes to make advances in tissue regeneration. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.

Jerry S.H. Lee BS (’97), Biomedical Engineering PhD (’06), Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Jerry accepted a new position in May 2018 as an associate professor of clinical medicine and chemical engineering and material sciences at the University of Southern California (USC) Keck School of Medicine and Viterbi School of Engineering. He is also the chief science and innovation officer for the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC. Prior to joining USC, Jerry was the health sciences director within the National Cancer Institute’s Office of the Director for more than 10 years. 

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Counseled by Renowned Scholars By Aniruddha Kaushik in science and technology. Finishing its sixth year, the summit featured 19 eminent speakers including 13 Nobel laureates, two Fields Medalists, three Millennium Technology Prize winners, and one Turing Award winner. Through plenary lectures and small group sessions, these speakers shared their knowledge, perspectives, and practical career advice.

Meeting Ada Yonath (left), 2009 Nobel laureate in chemistry, helped me (right) to appreciate my own work more. Transitioning from student life to a full-time career can be an intimidating task that all students must address. As a fifth year PhD student in mechanical engineering, I sought any help and advice I could get to aid this transition. When I was nominated to attend the Global Young Scientists Summit in January, I knew I was in a unique position to receive the best advice from several top global scholars. The coveted annual summit is organized by the Singapore government and brings together about 200 global young scientists to meet and network with academic thought leaders

I was particularly drawn to Nobel laureate Ada Yonath, who studies bacterial ribosome structures to develop targeted antibiotics for combatting infections caused by these bacteria. Yonath’s work relates closely to my research, which is in developing rapid diagnostic tests for infectious diseases like urinary tract infections and sepsis. Her work on diagnostic strategies helped me appreciate my work on therapeutic strategies more and clarified how they go hand in hand in tackling antibiotic resistance, one of the major global threats to the public. Additionally, I was given useful career advice by Frances Arnold, winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry. Arnold shared tips about successfully applying to postdoctoral positions and balancing a career in academia and entrepreneurship. Through all my interactions at the summit, I was encouraged, inspired, and motivated to charge forward in a career of academic research. I am incredibly grateful to have had this experience and look forward to sharing my learnings with young researchers. 

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Continued Success in Undergraduate Outreach Programs Every summer at INBT, two groups of undergraduate students receive intensive training in the nanobiotechnology and computational modeling fields. These students are part of the Research Experience for Undergraduates program funded by the National Science Foundation. The programs provide valuable educational experiences that may be unavailable at the students’ home institution. The Nanotechnology for Biology and Bioengineering program celebrated its 10th year and was renewed by NSF for another three years. Students participate in projects involved in developing cancer and other disease therapies, using stem cells and regenerative engineering to heal the body, and developing

more refined diagnostic tools for early disease detection. It continues to be competitive with about 600 to 800 applicants each year for 12 to 14 participants. The Rosetta Commons program, established in 2015, is a larger collaboration among several universities that use shared software for biomolecular structure design and prediction. INBT interns work on glycoengineering for immunotherapy and biofuels. Additionally, students receive professional development training and network with specialty scholars. INBT’s dedication to undergraduate education ensures the programs evolve to provide an experience that supports successful careers. 

Nanotechnology Program

Rosetta Commons Program

141 students hosted

39 students hosted

52% Female

48% Underrepresented Minorities

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66% Female

39% Underrepresented Minorities

Undergraduate Research Symposium works on creating custom scaffolds to grow bones for people who have craniofacial defects. As the day went on, undergraduates exchanged advice with each other and with future undergraduate researchers. Most strongly emphasized the importance of learning to communicate science to both technical and non-technical audiences. Finding a research project that you are passionate about was also emphasized. In November, the student-organized INBT Undergraduate Research Symposium, Innovation Through Engineering, displayed an array of research from science and engineering undergraduates in the Johns Hopkins community. Now in its 4th year, the symposium provides a forum for students to display their research and engage with professional researchers in academia and industry.

“Sometimes undergraduates become so desperate to get research experience that they forget to get involved in projects they are proud of and genuinely interested in. I encourage them to wait until they find a project that inspires them,” said Shannon Flanary, senior.

The event featured 37 posters across six departments on topics such as diagnostic devices, cancer research, tissue repair, stem cells, drug delivery, and gene editing. Event sponsor, Milipore Sigma, showcased their latest technologies and offered support for the young researchers. All enthusiastically shared their Raleigh Linville, PhD candidate, also shared adresearch findings with attendees and judges. vice with the young researchers.“Become resilOthers sought expert, problem-solving advice. ient to failure. Often, in science, weeks of work “My results are displaying something that leads to nothing. That can be hard for new redoesn’t make sense and I am hoping some searchers because they feel unhelpful or unprosmart people will help me identify what is ductive, but this helps them learn how to work happening,” said Maya Lapinski, junior, who and think more effectively and efficiently.” 

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Advanced Biomanufacturing: Highlights of the 12th Annual Nano-Bio Symposium INBT and the Physical Sciences-Oncology Center (PS-OC) showcased a range of rapid

developments in biomanufacturing technologies at “Advanced Biomanufacturing,” the 12th Annual Nano-Bio Symposium held on Friday, May 4. The engineering innovations discussed increasingly linked unmet clinical needs to new solutions that push the boundaries of regenerative engineering, stem cell technology, cancer treatments, and early disease diagnosis. “The advanced concepts in biomanufacturing addressed provides exciting opportunities for new collaborations, combining medicine, bioinformatics and engineering, as well as collaborations with a broad range of institutions, including universities, foundations, and industry,” said Ed Schlesinger, Benjamin T. Rome Dean of the Whiting School of Engineering. The event featured 85 posters and six speakers, including Alla Danilkovitch, Osiris Therapeutics, Inc.; John Fisher, University of Maryland; Roger Kamm, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; John Rogers, Northwestern University; Rebecca Schulman, Johns Hopkins University/INBT; and Jeff Wang, Johns Hopkins University/INBT. Nearly 200 people—the largest crowd in the symposium’s 12-years history—attended. Industry sponsors, including Paragon Bioservices, Thermo Fisher Scientific, WR Grace,

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Osiris Therapeutics, Beckman Coulter, Nikon Instruments, and Beckton Dickinson also attended. This corporate participation not only ensures that emerging technologies move from laboratory to the marketplace, but also provides a vehicle for open exchange between Hopkins researchers and students with their counterparts in industry. 

Osiris Therapeutics, Inc. Sponsored Poster Award Winners Physical Sciences-Oncology Center Emily Wisniewski Graduate Student Inês Godet Undergraduate Student Ananya Gupta Nikon Instruments Sponsored Award Winners – People’s Choice 1st place Rebecca Brody 2nd place Rami Chakroun 3rd place Sarah Kim

The 13th Annual Nano-Bio Symposium will be held May 3, 2019 on the Johns Hopkins Homewood Campus. The theme of the symposium will be Translation of Nano & Bio Research.

Institute for NanoBioTechnology Suite 100, Croft Hall 3400 North Charles Street Baltimore, md 21218

Profile for Institute for NanoBioTechnology

2018 Nano-Bio Report  

The latest edition of the Nano-Bio Report reveals the exciting developments from 2018 to strengthen INBT's platforms in research, education,...

2018 Nano-Bio Report  

The latest edition of the Nano-Bio Report reveals the exciting developments from 2018 to strengthen INBT's platforms in research, education,...


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