Nucleic acid-collagen complexes (NACC): Applications of DNA in cellular signaling and biomaterial development

Date(s) - 04/19/2021
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Virtual via Zoom

Josephine Allen, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Genzyme Professor, Department of Materials Science & Engineering, University of Florida



The Allen lab has three main research thrusts in cellular engineering, biomaterials, and the study of dynamic environmental conditions.  The focus of this seminar will be recent work in these three areas as it relates to tissue engineering. Our work in cellular engineering is motivated by the continued challenge to control cellular processes, including processes involved in angiogenesis, which are critical for successful tissue regeneration.  Our approach is the development of receptor agonist in the form of DNA aptamers. We have fabricated a novel divalent aptamer assembly that shows agonist function towards vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2, leading to downstream pathway activation. Our biomaterials work focuses on our goal to create an extracellular matrix mimic composed of ssDNA in complex with collagen. These novel DNA based materials are versatile, bioactive, support cellular remodeling, and processes involved in angiogenesis. Lastly, a brief overview of our labs mechanical stimulation capabilities will be presented, then a shift in topics to discuss our recent work looking at the impact of dynamic environments such as microgravity in space on vascular cellular processes.

Allen Bio:

Josephine Allen, Ph.D. received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from California State University Northridge, and her Ph.D. in 2009 from Northwestern University in Biological Sciences, and in 2010 she joined the Materials Science and Engineering Department at The University of Florida as an Assistant Professor, and was promoted to Associate professor with tenure in 2017.  Dr. Allen’s research is in the area of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, with specific interest in controlling cellular processes including differentiation. Her lab is also interested in understanding the effects of dynamic environmental conditions, including space, on cellular processes. Dr. Allen has received numerous awards for her work including the prestigious National Science Foundation, Career Award in 2015 and in 2016 she received the University of Florida Office of the Provost Excellence Award for Assistant Professors.  In 2018 Dr. Allen was named the Genzyme Professor of Materials and Engineering, and in 2020 she was inducted as an AIMBE fellow.  Allen’s research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), The National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the US. Army Department of Defense (DoD).