“Molecularly Programmable Materials for Biological Interfacing”
Nanomaterials have advanced biomedicine via new diagnostic and therapeutic tools. Their nanoscale and size-dependent properties allow us to spy at cellular machinery without introducing much interference. Unlike most man-made materials, living systems often use self-assembly, a highly reproducible “bottom-up” means with minimal energy input, to perform specific and orchestrated biological processing. Biologically inspired nanomaterials leveraging self-assembly of natural and synthetic biomolecules are being developed to mimic such information-rich and complex structures, to interface with biological systems, where desired functions must be achieved in a stochastic and nonlinear context. To achieve functionality, fabrication of well-defined materials is crucial and requires precise design and engineering of both molecular organization in space, and physicochemical properties imparted by certain assembled structures.
This talk presents engineering efforts on self-assembled nanomaterials in the context of new biomaterials fabrication, understanding biological processing and nanomedicine, by interfacing materials with biological entities at various scales. First, I will discuss the design and synthesis of disease associated, self-assembling peptides and sequence determinants that dictate assembly and interactions with inorganic nanoparticles. The second part of the talk focuses on engineering DNA self-assembly to organize proteins and nanoparticles into precise and programmable architectures and lattices. This part revolves around the relationships between molecular design at the interfaces of nano-objects and the resulting assembly and reconfiguration behaviors. Finally, I will discuss the identification of disease-associated biomarkers and integration with designed materials for cell targeting and non-invasive, early detection of lung diseases. Specific challenges and prospects on engineering multifunctional and dynamic materials by integrating biological activities with synthetic nanomaterials, and potential applications toward biological screening, fingerprinting disease and diagnosis, and non-medical applications will be discussed.