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Seminar: Nano-based probes of the brain microenvironment: therapeutic implications for the injured brain

April 19, 2018
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


Elizabeth Nance
University of Washington
Chemical Engineering; Adjunct, Radiology
Thursday 19th April 2018
Noon in 1003 Kemper Hall

Nano-based probes of the brain microenvironment: therapeutic implications for the injured brain


When treating neurological diseases, the uptake, penetration, and cellular interaction of a therapeutic within the brain is critical to the success of the therapeutic. However, there is a major knowledge gap in knowing how changes to the extracellular matrix (ECM), brain edema, glial cell function, and blood-brain barrier disruption affect the diffusion, interactions, and cellular uptake of therapeutics following injury to the brain. The means to gather real-time molecular information from the diseased human brain is also limited, and high-throughput platforms that can assay sub-micron changes in tissue in the presence of injury are still lacking. Nanotechnology, which consists of small, highly-tailorable platforms, provides a modality to survey the brain environment that can fill this knowledge gap. In particular, nanoparticle diffusion within the brain represents how a therapeutically-relevant platform experiences the brain extracellular space (ECS), which is influenced by interaction with cells and ECM proteins, or by local fluids flows within the brain microenvironment. The Nance lab integrates in vitro to in vivo models with imaging, molecular biology, and data science tools to extract statistically relevant information that captures changes in the brain microenvironment that might influence how a nanotherapeutic behaves, and hence inform nanotherapeutic design. This seminar will demonstrate: (1) the use of our multiple particle tracking technology to track 10,000’s of individual nanoparticle trajectories to elucidate how local microenvironmental changes influence nanoparticle behavior and cell uptake; (2) how leveraging transport behavior in the brain can lead to region and cell-specific targeting of nanotherapeutics for improved neuroprotection and attenuation of neuroinflammation in brain injury models.


Dr. Elizabeth Nance joined the University of Washington in September 2015 as the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, with an adjunct appointment in Radiology. Elizabeth received her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering with Dr. Justin Hanes. Prior to starting her faculty position, she completed a postdoc with Dr. Sujatha Kannan in Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Elizabeth has over 22 publications, holds two patents for nanotechnology uses in the brain, and has given over 40 invited talks, including on the TED stage and at the Aspen Institute. She is an active collaborator in the neuroscience, neurology, and pediatric fields. Elizabeth is a recipient of the highly competitive NIGMS R35 MIRA award and the Burroughs Wellcome Career Award (<3%). She was named the 2018 European Union’s NanoMed Training Network Inspiring Young Scientist, won the 2018 Young Innovator Award in Nanobiotechnology, and was previously named Forbes 30 under 30 in Science in 2015 as one of the “most disruptive, game-changing and innovating young personalities in science.” Elizabeth takes an active role in mentoring young women, from middle school age to post-graduate, in pursuing engineering in scientific and health fields. In January 2016, she founded Women in Chemical Engineering (WChE), an organization for graduate and undergraduate student women chemical engineers, and their male allies, focused on empowering, strengthening, and promoting the network of women chemical engineers across all levels. In 2018, she received the Association for Women in Science Early Career Achievement in STEM award for her scientific work, and mentoring and outreach efforts.


1003 Kemper Hall

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