Methods from engineering and the physical sciences are being used to create novel tools to elucidate the complex relationships that underlie the behaviors of living cells and tissues. The laboratory is developing a suite of technologies based on microengineered platforms and microfluidics to manipulate and analyze living cells. Novel biochemical assays are being developed based on microanalytical chemical separations to elucidate molecular signal transduction at the single-cell level. Assay platforms enable the selection, interrogation, and lysis of single cells followed by chemical separation of each cells’ contents. The platforms can now perform fast serial measurements of single cells and hold the promise of multiplexed assays of signal transduction pathways in a high-throughput manner. A key aspect to this research is the development of a variety of single-cell biochemical probes that report the enzymatic activity of kinase, lipases, and proteases with the end goal of creating clinical diagnostic and prognostic assays in patients. Another focus area exploits recent advances in mating living cells with microfabricated systems making it possible to create miniaturized devices with organ level function. These so-called “organ-on-a-chip” platforms enable the controlled establishment of multicellular tissue-like cell populations from pluripotent cells. The lab is pursuing development and application of these devices to mimic the intestine and bone.
Dr. Allbritton obtained her B.S. in physics from Louisiana State University, her Ph.D. in Medical Physics/Medical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and her M.D. from the Johns Hopkins University. Upon completion of a postdoctoral fellowship in cell biology at Stanford University, she joined the faculty of the University of California at Irvine in 1994 where she held joint appointments in the Departments of Physiology and Biophysics, Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry, and Chemical Engineering & Materials Science. She has received multiple awards including a Beckman Young Investigator Award, and a Searle Scholar Award and is a Fellow in the American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering. She joined the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) as the Debreczeny Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry in July, 2007 followed by a joint appointment with the School of Medicine in the Department of Pharmacology. In 2009, she was appointed Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, a joint department between the School of Medicine at UNC and the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University. Dr. Allbritton’s research studies are directed at the development of new technologies by bringing to bear methods from engineering, chemistry, physics and biology to address biomedical problems. This research program has been heavily funded by the National Institutes of Health with over $40 million in grant funding since 1994. Dr. Allbritton is the scientific founder of two companies, Protein Simple and Cell Microsystems, and has 10 issued patents with over 20 more pending.
When: Thursday, October 30, 2014 4:10 PM
Where: 1005 GBSF