CHBE Seminar Series: Ian Wheeldon

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Room 2110 Chemical and Nuclear Engineering Bldg.
Professor Srinivasa Raghavan

Proteins as Functional Materials: Engineering Multi-Functional and Biologically Active Hydrogels

Ian Wheeldon
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering Harvard University; and
Center for Biomedical Engineering, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Proteins are natural heteropolymers that have evolved to form complex macromolecules withdiverse functions and capabilities. For example,enzymes catalyze a vast number of chemical reactions, many different proteins assemble to form structural and load bearing units intra- and extracellularly, and extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins present biochemical information that can direct cell behavior. This diversity of function can be exploited with new protein-based technologies to create programmable and multi-functional soft materials for bioenergy and biotechnology applications. Here, these concepts are explored with two protein and engineering approaches including, the design of self-assembling multi-functional hydrogels, and the synthesis and screening of combinatorial ECM hydrogels for directing cellular behaviors. In the first approach, a bifunctional protein design is used to create new macromolecules that self-assemble into useful materials. The design is demonstrated by creatinga thermostablehydrogel that catalyzes the oxidation of secondary alcohols,an electrode modification for the enzymatic reduction of oxygen to water, and a protective coating that hydrolyzes toxic nerve agents.In the second approach, new techniques are being developed to create microarrays of ECM protein hydrogels.These tools are being used to explore combinatorial sets of information (proteins) and identify the functional contributions of each protein to cellular behaviors. Specifically, combinatorial microarrays of biomimetichydrogels containing ECM proteins are being used to investigate the behavior of endothelial progenitors cells from human cord blood.The examples presented here represent a broad range of useful applications for protein-based materials and are building towards establishing protein technologies as a powerful means of functional material and functional macromolecule design for bioenergy and biotechnology applications.

About the Speaker
Dr. Wheeldon is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, and the Center for Bioengineering at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. Ian received a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Columbia University (2009), a Master’s of Applied Science from the Royal Military College of Canada (2003), and a Bachelor’s of Applied Science (1999) from Queen’s University, Canada. Ian has also studied at the University of Buenos Aries (2004) as a visiting scholar at the The Institute of Chemical Physics of Materials, Environment, and Energy. His research is focused on engineering proteins to design new multi-functional and biologically active materials.

Audience: Graduate  Faculty  Post-Docs 


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