Abstract: Biomolecules are naturally built with molecular-level features that allow them to have adaptive and sequence-tunable structures, and as a consequence, have programmable functionalities under physiological environments. Engineered peptides have therefore emerged as designer biomolecular units that can be effectively integrated with living cells and tissues to sense, stimulate, or perform a function that does not naturally exist. This presentation will focus on the development of tunable and water-processable π-conjugated systems as peptide-functionalized materials that can be used as transducer biointerfaces—materials capable of converting external or cell-mediated biophysical cues to stimulatory, regenerative cues or as sensory output signals. Transformative molecular engineering approaches and micro-to-nanoscale fabrication approaches are employed to seamlessly control or probe biological phenomena involving excitable cells through these peptide-based materials. More specifically, we leverage synthetic design principles for engineering biomaterials that rely on the properties of these peptides functionalized with active π-conjugated units. The sequence-dependence of their assembly behavior, the adaptive nature of their photophysical properties (such as thermochromicity and mechanochromicity), processability as anisotropic substrates, and capability to convert light to stimulatory cues will be discussed herein for π-conjugated peptidic biomaterials. Lattice matching and polymer-based templating approaches for directing the on-surface assembly of photocurrent-generating π-conjugated peptides, as well as how such interfaces are perceived as anisotropic topographical cues by excitable cardiomyocytes, will also be discussed. Overall, we envision these functional peptides as tunable, optoelectronically active, and adaptive biomaterials that can promote stem cell-derived cardiomyocyte maturation, regenerative processes, and advancement of engineered tissue constructs used for in vitro modeling applications.
Bio: Herdeline Ann M. Ardoña is originally from Valenzuela City, Philippines. She received her B.S. in Chemistry from the University of the Philippines Diliman in 2011. In 2017, she completed her Ph.D. in Chemistry at Johns Hopkins, with fellowship support from Schlumberger Foundation and Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She then moved to Harvard University as an ACS Irving S. Sigal Postdoctoral Fellow in the Disease Biophysics Group at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor at the UCI Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, with joint appointments at the UCI Department of Chemistry and Department of Biomedical Engineering. She is also an affiliate member of the UCI Stem Cell Research Center and the Cardiovascular Innovation and Research Center. She is a recipient of an NSF CAREER and the Society of Hellman Fellowship.