CBE Seminar Series: Neha P. Kamat



Olin 255


Building with biological membranes to understand and harness membrane protein dynamics

Abstract: Membranes play a vital role in a variety of physiological processes. Recapitulating these processes outside of the cell will allow us to better understand them as well as design an entirely new class of materials that can sense, transport, or target important biological signals and molecules. In this talk, I will present our recent work using model membranes (ex. liposomes and polymersomes) and cell-free expression systems to (1) uncover the role of membrane mechanical properties on the folding, sorting, and activity of model membrane proteins and (2) design membrane-based nanoparticles for biosensing and therapeutic applications. Our approach, bridging synthetic biology techniques and model membrane assembly, provides an innovative yet simple method to probe the role of membrane composition and biophysical properties on protein dynamics and to advance the design of drug delivery carriers.

Biography: Neha Kamat received a BS in Bioengineering from Rice University and a PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania under the direction of Prof. Daniel Hammer. After her postdoctoral fellowship with Prof. Jack Szostak at Harvard University/ Massachusetts General Hospital, she joined the faculty of Northwestern University, where she is currently an Assistant Professor in the Biomedical Engineering Department. The Kamat Lab's interests lie in constructing minimal systems, or artificial cells, as a tool to understand and recreate certain cellular behaviors. They use emerging engineering methods in material science and synthetic biology to construct in vitro models of cellular membranes to be used for fundamental studies on membrane mechanobiology and for the design of new therapeutic tools. Neha is the recipient of a Young Investigator Award from the Air Force Research Office, an NSF CAREER Award, and the ACS Synthetic Biology Young Innovator Award.