Harnessing Biomaterials to Study and Engineer Lymph Node Function

Friday, December 4, 2015 - 2:00pm
Fung Auditorium, Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall
Christopher Jewell

Assistant Professor
Fischell Department of Bioengineering
University of Maryland

Harnessing Biomaterials to Study and Engineer Lymph Node Function

Abstract: 
Vaccines and immunotherapies have generated some of the largest impacts on human health in history, but a fundamental challenge now facing the field is how to direct the specific properties of immune responses that are elicited. This idea of tuning response is termed “immunomodulation”, and is critical in designing more efficacious and specific vaccines and immunotherapies. In this seminar I will discuss two strategies we are developing to study and exploit the interactions between biomaterials and immune cells and tissues. One approach involves direct delivery of synthetic vaccine carriers to lymph nodes, key tissues that coordinate immune response. We have combined direct lymph node injection with biomaterials to establish a platform to study the link between local lymph node function and systemic immunity by probing the roles of signal density and material properties. In addition to these ideas, we are exploiting directed delivery for therapeutic vaccination in the areas autoimmunity and cancer. The second focus area is the design of new modular materials we have created using polyionic immune signals to form stable capsules. These immune polyelectrolyte multilayers (iPEMs) are self-assembled entirely from antigens and adjuvants to allow selective activation of pro-inflammatory signaling pathways without other carrier components such as polymers or lipids. In mice, iPEMs enhance the function of dendritic cells in draining lymph nodes, potently expand antigen-specific T cells against antigens used to build iPEMs, and provide protection during tumor challenge. Ultimately, these strategies could contribute to better understanding of the interactions between biomaterials and the immune system, and improve the rational design of materials that serve not only as carriers, but also as agents that actively direct immune response.
Bio: 

Christopher M. Jewell is an Assistant Professor in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering at the University of Maryland and a Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator. Dr. Jewell graduated from Lehigh University with high honors in 2003 with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and a B.S. in Molecular Biology. He attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, completing his PhD in Chemical Engineering with Professor David Lynn in 2008. Chris then joined the Boston Consulting Group in New York City as a consultant in the Healthcare practice, where his work focused on R&D strategy development for global pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients. In 2009, Dr. Jewell accepted a Ragon Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship to begin vaccine research at MIT with Professor Darrell Irvine in the departments of Materials Science and Biological Engineering. Dr. Jewell held a concurrent appointment as a Visiting Scientist in the Division of Vaccine Research at Harvard. In August 2012, Chris established his lab at the University of Maryland. His research focuses on understanding the interactions between synthetic materials and lymph nodes, and exploiting these interactions for therapeutic vaccination. Dr. Jewell has published 32 peer-reviewed papers (H-index = 18) and patent filings, including papers in ACS Nano, PNAS, Angewandte Chemie, and Nature. Dr. Jewell’s efforts have been recognized by numerous awards for research and education, including the NSF CAREER Award, the Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award, the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy Young Investigator Award, the Melanoma Research Alliance Young Investigator Award, and the Controlled Release Society T. Nagai Postdoctoral Achievement Award. In 2012 Chris appeared in USA Today representing the Chemical Engineering discipline as a “New Face of Engineering”. In 2013 Dr. Jewell was selected as the state of Maryland’s Outstanding Young Engineer by the Maryland Academy of Science, the state’s highest professional honor awarded to an engineer under the age of 36.