Engineering Adaptive Immunity through Biomaterials

Date(s) - 06/08/2015
3:00 pm

Lance Kam, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University

Abstract: Cells have the remarkable ability to read and respond to a rich set of cues presented by the extracellular environment. The overall mission of my group is to understand how cells integrate these cues into instructions of overall cell function, leading to biomaterial design strategies that provide new levels of control over cell and tissue response. This talk will focus first on how cells respond to multiple molecular signals, integrating not only the pathways activated by these ligands but also the microscale spatial orientation of these cues. The role of mechanobiology and mechanosensing on these complex interactions will then be discussed, and applied to biomaterial design. These concepts have been applied to a range of cellular systems, including neurons and epithelial cells, but our current focus is on controlling the response of T cells, key modulators of the adaptive immune system. The ability to control the activation and function of these cells through biomaterial design has major implications in immunotherapy of cancer and other diseases.

Short Bio: Dr. Lance Kam earned his doctorate at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, applying microfabrication techniques to biological molecules for neural engineering. He further developed these techniques to encompass complex details of membrane associated proteins as a postdoc at Stanford University. Since joining Columbia University, his group has developed these concepts in the area of immunity and immune engineering. His group designs systems that capture the complexity of biological systems on engineered materials, and is currently supported through the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation.