CBE Student, Mark Richards has been awarded a Flexible Electronics for Biological and Life Science Applications IGERT fellowship
The FlexEBio IGERT aims to prepare students to develop devices that integrate new materials at the biology- flexible electronics interface. Students participate in interdisciplinary research in physical and biological science focused on three areas critical to fundamental advances: bioelectronic and bio-optic sensors, the material-biology interface, and flexible neural electronics.
Mark's research focuses on the material-biology interface,
where he studies the interactions between lipids and proteins and their impact on biological activity. Understanding the impact of lipid interaction on protein function is especially important for applications that use proteins as transducer elements for biosensing, in ionic circuits, or for light harvesting, since the activity of the
protein, such as the flux of ions, enzymatic activity, or other specific functionality, is tied to the surrounding material in which the protein is embedded.
To date, studying these interactions, or even just identifying critical interactions, is extremely difficult. Mark has developed a novel platform using patterned supported lipid bilayers of tunable chemistry for doing so and will use it to identify critical interactions, triggers that change those interactions, and then apply these tools and understanding as a means to control the activity of a biological interface in a number of applications.
Below is an image of a heterogeneous bilayer containing regions of different lipid compositions. Proteins, or other membrane-bound species, can be segregated into different regions initially and stimulated to remix. In this case, a glycolipid labeled with a red fluorophore resides in an ordered lipid phase, while a green- labeled lipid resides in a liquid-disordered phase.