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Biomolecular Engineering

Many lab groups within CBE are pioneering research in areas such as synthetic biology, systems biology, biomedical research and biotechnology, and biochemistry and biophysics of biological systems. Much of the research conducted in these areas has direct applications in: 

  • Human disease: design and engineering of therapeutic antibodies and proteins, cell and tissue engineering, delivery of vaccines and therapeutics, discovery of cancer targets, treatment of brain tumors. 
  • Fundamental processes of living systems: artificial trees, bioseparations, host pathogen interactions, cellular and subcellular organization, protein biogenesis, regulation and control of biological networks. 
  • Biotechnology: Biosensing and bioanalytical devices, protein engineering and cellular factories, body-on-a-chip.

Research Foci of Faculty in Biomolecular Engineering 
Prof. Christopher Alabi's lab facilitates the development and translation of nanoparticle therapeutics by elucidating the underlying principles that dictate their macromolecular interactions and transport in complex biological environments. Two major themes are the development of a multiparametric characterization tool that enables functional analysis of the nanoparticle surface composition and the design of molecular/polymeric conjugates that can aid our understanding of intracellular trafficking pathways and facilitate intracellular transport from endocytic vesicles to the desired intracellular target location.

Prof. Susan Daniel's lab is primarily interested in understanding the roles of membrane lipids and protein-lipid interactions on biological function. Her research within this area can be divided into two or more specific themes: (1) the study of host-pathogen interactions, and in particular, the virus infection process, and (2) the investigation or cell membrane organization and the identification of critical lipid-protein interactions necessary for biological function. 

Prof. Matthew DeLisa's lab engineers the protein machinery of simple bacteria for solving complex problems in biology and medicine. They focus on the molecular machines of protein biosynthesis as both a target for understanding and reprogramming cellular function and as a toolbox for the creation of therapeutically and industrially relevant molecules.

Prof. Matthew Paszek's lab engineers cellular glycans as an advanced approach to cellular engineering. A primary goal of the lab is to build the infrastructure - custom-tailored experimental tools and computational models - necessary to propel the early stages of biophysical inquiry in glycoscience. These tools are being applied to develop a fundamental understanding of the biophysical functions of glycans in cell-cell communication, cell motility, and tissue morphogenesis. 

Prof. David Putnam's group, in collaboration with Prof. DeLisa, has engineered bacteria to create and stabilize new vaccines. The stabilizing technology based on bacterial outer membrane vesicles, or OMVs, and a protein called CLyA. Using this technology, the investigators have created a new vaccine candidates using proteins that normally poorly antigenic. 

Prof. Michael Shuler's lab focuses on applying chemical reaction engineering principles to biological systems. As part of this work, his research group has developed a new approach to model individual cells mathematically. These models have proven to be important conceptual tools used to test hypotheses about cellular mechanisms. Scaling up, mathematical models of subcellular and cellular mechanisms with whole-animal models is a means to relate molecular toxicology and pharmacology with animal physiology. The organs of mathematical models are compared with physical models that use living cells to mimic organs such as the liver, colon, GI tract and lung. These devices are constructed on a microscale using the techniques of nanotechnology and are known as "Body-on-a-Chip" devices.

Prof. Abraham Stroock's lab studies mechanisms for manipulating liquids by plants and their applications. They are also investigating the fundamental properties of liquid water at negative pressure. In addition, Stroock's group is interested in understanding the biophysical processes that control vascular development and applications of these processes in tissue engineering. 

Prof. Jeffrey Varner's lab studies metabolic and signal transduction pathways that are important in technology and human health, using experimental and computational tools. They focus on new technologies for the production of complex therapeutic proteins, pathways associated with trauma, and pathways involved with a variety of human cancers. They work with diverse partners from academics, industry, government, and clinical practice. 

Research Area Faculty

  Name Department Contact
caa238.jpg Alabi, Christopher A.
Assistant Professor and Nancy and Peter Meinig Family Investigator in the Life Sciences
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 356 Olin Hall
607 255-7889
sd386.jpg Daniel, Susan
Associate Professor
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 256 Olin Hall
607 255-4675
md255.jpg DeLisa, Matthew P.
William L. Lewis Professor of Engineering
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 254 Olin Hall
607 254-8560
mjp31.jpg Paszek, Matthew J.
Assistant Professor
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 360 Olin Hall
607 255-6277
ads10.jpg Stroock, Abraham Duncan
William C. Hooey Director and Gordon L. Dibble ’50 Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 124 Olin Hall
607 255-4276
jdv27.jpg Varner, Jeffrey D.
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 244 Olin Hall
607 255-4258