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Science and Mathematics

Chemistry Faculty Candidate: From Peptides to Tissues – Hierarchical Strategies Towards Soft Materials Biointerfacing

January 7, 2020 at 4:00pm5:00pm EST

Center for Science and Technology (CST), 1-019

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Herdeline Ardoña, Ph.D., from Harvard University, is a candidate for a faculty position in the Department of Chemistry, part of the cluster hiring initiative in the BioInspired Institute.

Abstract: The applications of functional nanomaterials towards biological interfacing continue to emerge in various fields, such as in drug delivery and tissue engineering. While the rational control of surface chemistry and mechanical properties have been achieved for several of these biocompatible systems, these biomaterials are rarely synthesized with optical and electronic functionalities that could be beneficial for controlling the behavior of excitable cells (e.g., neurons and cardiac cells) or for biosensing applications.

In this seminar, I will first describe the development of one-dimensional peptidic nanostructures appended with organic electronic units, which can facilitate photoinduced energy transfer under aqueous environments. These semiconducting peptide monomers that self-assemble as aligned hydrogels are successfully built according to design principles that allowed for directed photonic energy transport, sequential electron transport in a multicomponent system, and transmission or equilibration of voltage or current when incorporated in a transistor device. These soft scaffolding materials, with tunable molecular to macroscale properties, offer a unique tissue engineering platform that can locally and synergistically deliver electronic, topographical, and biochemical cues to cells. In the second part of the talk, I will describe how to engineer in vitro models of cells and tissues, which enables the understanding of nano-bio or abiotic-biotic interactions at multiple spatial scales. I will specifically describe physiologically relevant models that faithfully recapitulate the native form and function of cells or tissues involved in the systemic biodistribution of common nanomaterials—across biological barriers to target organs. These testing platforms were used to elucidate the dynamic structural and functional outcomes resulting from the exposure of vascular endothelium and myocardium to engineered nanomaterials. Overall, peptidic nanomaterials that are optoelectronically-active and biocompatible could pave the way for the development of novel tools for controlling cellular processes and probing biophysical phenomena, such as action potential propagation, mechanotransduction, and drug/toxicant permeation across tissues.


This event was published on January 7, 2020.

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