Bio-Imaging and Machine Vision Laboratory
The Bio-Imaging and Machine Vision Laboratory develops technologies for food, biomedical, and biomaterial engineering applications. Current projects include machine vision-guided high throughput automated strawberry de-stemming, 3D laser imaging for oyster sizing, hyperspectral imaging-assisted black walnut de-shelling/hazardous item detection, and automated combined X-ray and laser imaging for bone fragments detection. Previous projects include multi-modality imaging to assess vascularity in Kaposi’s sarcoma, ultra-low-dose X-ray multi-slice helical CT, and prospective head movement correction for high resolution MRI using an optical tracking system.
Biomolecular and Metabolic Engineering Laboratories
The Biomolecular and Metabolic Engineering Laboratories employ the tools of "functional" genomics to understand the regulation of genetic circuits during applied stresses. In particular, DNA microarrays are used for analyzing gene expression on a global basis. This, coupled with transcriptional promoter probes, quantitative RT-PCR, Northern and Western analyses ultimately enables close to real time detection of gene expression in targeted circuits. The group is currently focusing on stress-related and nutritionally- regulated pathways such as those involving s32, sS,and sN. The group's objective is to alter the intracellular environment to improve cellular processes, including the production of recombinant proteins. It is also developing new analytical tools to monitor gene expression both in vivo and in vitro.
See also: The Biochip Collaborative
Biomolecular Modeling Laboratory
The Biomolecular Modeling Laboratory aims to explore how molecular behavior dictates macroscopic-scale properties of systems. Professor Matysiak's group utilizes statistical thermodynamics to estimate thermophysical properties from computer simulations on a molecular level. Group members model self-assembly of soft materials such as surfactants, proteins, lipid and polysaccharides. They particularly focus on characterizing molecular mechanisms that are relevant in many neurodegenerative diseases and certain types of cancer.
Since there is no single technique that can span the whole range of typical time and length scales relevant for biomolecular function and self-assembly behavior, lab members are developing new multi-scale simulation techniques and models to characterize these systems at multiple time and length scales. The laboratory's research focuses on multiscale simulations methods, molecular aggregation processes, protein folding/misfolding and stability, protein-membrane interactions, molecular basis of Huntington’s disease, the mode of action of antimicrobial peptides in targeting cancer cells and self-assembly of surfactants in ionic liquids.
Biophotonic Imaging Laboratory
The main research thrust of the Biophotonics Imaging Laboratory is to develop multi-scale, multi-modality optical imaging technology with a particular focus on early cancer detection and neuroimaging. Its goal is to non-invasively image tissue morphology and function at the cellular and molecular level to provide early diagnostic information and real-time guidance of therapeutic interventions.
The Bryan Group uses genetic, biochemical, and biophysical methods to investigate fundamental questions of protein folding and enzymology. The basic studies are the foundation of a hierarchical progression in which fundamental understanding of folding and enzymology translates into principles of protein engineering and engineering principles translate into protein-based nanomachinery. The ability to engineer proteins with switchable functions led Professor Bryan to create a spinoff company, Potomac Affinity Proteins, which uses switchable proteolytic enzymes in a powerful, all-purpose method for protein isolation and purification.
Cell and Microenvironmental Engineering Lab
Research in the Cell and Microenvironment Engineering Lab lies at the interface of cell engineering, nano/microtechnology, and quantitative mechanobiology, and integrates principles and techniques from engineering, biology, and physics in order to address questions related to physiological processes and diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Our goal is to utilize this highly interdisciplinary approach in order to create relevant in vitro models of multi-scale biological systems (from intracellular signaling to single cell behavior to multicellular complexes), to understand how cells respond to physical and biochemical cues from their microenvironment, and to develop regenerative therapies for diseases using engineering strategies. We are particularly interested in questions at the interface of nano/microtechnology and blood-brain barrier mechanobiology, nuclear mechanics, and stem cell engineering.
Cell Biophysics Laboratory
The Cell Biophysics Laboratory applies the theoretical and experimental machinery of physics and engineering to obtain a quantitative understanding of specific problems inspired by biological systems. The group studies the mechanics and motility of healthy cells, as well as those of cells with pathological conditions. Of particular interest for the group is to understand how the mechanical environment dictates cell functions.
Control of Miniaturized Systems for Mechatronic, Biological, and Clinical Applications Laboratory
Modeling, design, and control of micro- and nano-scale systems and flows for bio-chemical and clinical applications. The Shapiro Group chooses applications where control can dramatically improve or allow new capabilities, and focuses on areas that will allow better diagnosis and treatment of people. Current projects range from precision and gentle control of individual cells on chip, e.g. for cell handling, sorting, and complex sample preparation, to control of magnetic nano-particles in people, for drug delivery to the inner ear and to primary and metastatic tumors. (Above: Feedback control of magnetic fields to focus chemotherapy coated nano-particles to deep tissue tumors.)
The Eisenstein Group investigates a variety of questions involving plants, including their remarkable capacity to produce a complex array of interesting compounds, their response to pathogens and disease, and the feasibility of engineering their biosynthetic apparatus for applications ranging from human health to biofuel production. The group's research interests include gene-metabolite relationships in medicinal plants, exploring the molecular basis for plant disease resistance, and plant metabolic engineering.
Functional Macromolecular Laboratory
The Functional Macromolecular Laboratory focuses on the synthesis, characterization and processing of novel polymer-based nanostructured systems used in a variety of technological fields, ranging from medicine and pharmaceuticals to energy storage and microelectronics. The lab features a comprehensive set of characterization equipment for polymer mechanical, thermal, dielectric, conductive properties. Current projects include the design of polymers, hydrogels, and molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) for use in blood-coagulation, intelligent food packaging capable of detecting pathogenic bacteria, hemodialysis, vaccine production, the selective binding of viruses and proteins, and electrolytes for flexible batteries and energy storage systems.
Associate Professor Keith Herold joined the University of Maryland's Department of Mechanical Engineering in 1987, where his research focused on energy systems and absorption refrigeration. In 2000, he shifted his focus to bioengineering and began exploring biosensors, microarrays, and related lab-on-a-chip technologies. In 2006 he joined the newly formed Fischell Department of Bioengineering, where his work in these areas continues. His current research projects include collaborations with the FDA on a DNA-based pathogen biosensor, and with electrophysiologists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine on the analysis of patients suffering from ventricular tachycardia.
Human Performance Laboratory
The Human Performance Laboratory focuses on computer-based communication, monitoring and testing devices aimed at evaluating and understanding the cognitive, motor, and psychomotor skills of workers who use respiratory equipment. The lab's goal is to improve performance and safety for those in potentially hazardous occupations such as emergency rescue, manufacturing, mining, agriculture, and landscaping. The HPL is also developing new, noninvasive ways to evaluate respiratory health in adults and children.
Immune Engineering Laboratory
The goal of the Jewell Lab is to develop biomaterials that generate immune responses with specific, tunable characteristics, an idea known as “immunomodulation.” This goal has two complementary thrusts: basic investigations to understand the interactions between synthetic materials and the immune system, and translational studies that exploit these interactions for therapeutic vaccines targeting cancer and autoimmunity. We use biomaterials that range from degradable polymer particles, to lipid carriers, to self-assembling and multi-functional materials. We study these materials in cells and animal models, incorporating tools from chemistry, engineering, basic biology, nanotechnology, and immunology. Our ongoing projects include design of vaccines and immunotherapies, understanding the interactions of biomaterials with lymph nodes and other immune tissues, harnessing self-assembly of immune signals to control immune function, and investigations of the materials we design in pre-clinical models of multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, melanoma, and pediatric cancer.
Model Analysis Laboratory
The Model Analysis Laboratory researches spatial analysis and control of active and passive biological agents in dynamic, intensive and extensive, heterogeneous bioenvironments. Analytical and numerical computational devices are developed within deterministic and stochastic frameworks, coupled with artificial intelligence tools and integrated into multi-dimensional spatial databases to form Decision Support Systems (DSS) aimed at designing strategies for analyzing and controlling the dynamics of nutrients, drugs, toxins and active bioagents from the scale of individual cells through tissues and organs to urban landscapes, watersheds and broad geographical regions. Current projects in biomedical, bioenvironmental and ecological engineering areas include: estimation of in-vivo cellular transport parameters by inverse modeling; multi-continuum and stochastic modeling of wetland function; spatial control of Canada Goose in the Washington DC region; development and application of embedded LISP-based microncontrolled devices for smart biomonitoring and control.
The Muro Group focuses on developing means to target cells located at sites of disease in the body with nano-scale carriers that are able to use endocytic pathways, natural processes where cells engulf substances in their outer membrane and then bring the surrounded materials into their interior. Using analytical and biological tools, microscopy imaging and radioisotope tracing in cell and animal models, site-specific platforms are designed to facilitate the transport of the therapeutic agents with organ, cellular, and sub-cellular precision.
Orthopaedic Mechanobiology Laboratory
The main research thrust of the Orthopaedic Mechanobiology Lab is to elucidate how specific exposures of mechanical stress in musculoskeletal tissues contribute to health and disease, with a particular focus on intervertebral discs of the spine. Its goal is to understand how the cellular and tissue mechanical environment modulates biological response, so that preventive and therapeutic strategies against musculoskeletal disorders can be developed.
The Payne Group is studying and applying biofabrication approaches in the construction of devices at the nanoscale. In particular, the lab focuses on biofabricating with stimuli-responsive biological polymers (especially polysaccharides) and enzymes (especially tyrosinase and transglutaminase). The goals of the group's work include creating the means for interfacing biology with electronics to produce devices that can diagnose disease at the point of care, detect pathogens at the market, and discover drugs in the lab. The Payne Group also explores providing biocompatible approaches for personalized therapy, regenerative medicine, and less-invasive surgery.
Photonic Biosensors Laboratory
The Photonic Biosensors Laboratory develops integrated microsystems for the diagnosis and study of disease at the cellular and molecular level. Using a combination of microfabrication techniques, the group implements micro total analysis systems for three major research thrusts: infectious disease detection based on DNA signature biosensing; understanding cancer metastasis using a new on-chip assay to identify and enrich highly tumorigenic cells; and low-cost, portable, point-of-sample pesticide, explosives, and toxin detection using 3D optofluidic surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy scaffolds.
The Biochip Collaborative
The Biochip Collaborative spans five laboratories and research groups in the Clark School of Engineering, the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, and the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. The Collaborative's goal is to enlist molecular bioengineering to "translate" the communication between biological and microfabricated systems in a manner that embraces the fragility of biology. Its overarching objective is to exploit the recognition and self-assembly capabilities found in biological systems for fabrication, in both the means by which materials and devices are fabricated and the components of the subsequent product that can be found in nature. The group seeks to demonstrate the creation of "biofunctionalized" devices" in which proteins, cells, and cell populations are interrogated on-board and moved between locations based on measured biological responses. This goal will be accomplished by the systematic study of a complex cell-to-cell communication system that has emerged as a determinant of bacterial pathogenicity.
The Optics Biotech Laboratory
The Optics Biotech Laboratory studies optics and photonics to devise novel technology for biological research and clinical medicine. In particular, we focus on imaging modalities able to map properties that are difficult or impossible to measure with traditional techniques but with important biomedical applications. Our research covers all stages of the translational spectrum: we study what light is and how it interacts with cells, tissue and biomaterials; we develop advanced optical technology and build new instrumentation; and, we use our instruments for biological research and in clinical trials.
Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Laboratory
The Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Laboratory uses the principles of both engineering and life sciences to develop biomaterials that improve the quality of life of ill or injured patients. The lab is used to fabricate polymers into easily implantable biomaterials by first synthesizing novel hydrolytically degradable biomaterials. Molecular and cellular biology principles are then incorporated to understand the interaction of cells, tissues, and higher life systems with these novel biomaterials. Areas of focus in the lab include the study of biomaterials for the delivery of therapeutics, scaffolds for orthopedic tissue engineering applications, and the interaction of biomaterials and tissues.
Vascular Pharmacoengineering and Biotherapeutics Laboratory
Our research aims to uncover new insights into vascular and pharmaceutical biology and to apply these to design and create new biotherapeutics. We also strive to develop new approaches to drug delivery and tissue engineering using fundamental tools from both engineering and molecular biology. We employ techniques in protein engineering, biomaterials, genomics, proteomics and nanotechnology, with a strong emphasis on animal models. In general, we are interested in projects at the interface of vascular biology and bioengineering with the objective of generating new therapies that can ultimately be translated to clinical use. An underpinning goal of the lab is to endow trainees with the skills and knowledge necessary to become leaders in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.