We Engineer Excellence


Colloquium Speakers




October 3, 2018 Cheng Dong University Distinguished Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Pennsylvania State University
October 10, 2018 Debiao Li Distinguished Speaker, Cedars-Sinai, USC
October 24, 2018 Ali Khademhosseini University Distinguished Professor, Department of Bioengineering, UCLA
October 31, 2018 Volkmar Heinrich Department of Biomedical Engineering, UC Davis
November 7, 2018 Jiandi Wan Department of Chemical Engineering, UC Davis
November 14, 2018 Wei Gao Department of Medical Engineering, Caltech
November 28, 2018 Joshua Wood Mouse Biology Program, UC Davis
December 5, 2018 Ravi Bellamkonda University Distinguished Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Dean of Engineering, Duke University


October 3, 2018

Cheng Dong

University Distinguished Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Pennsylvania State University

Title: Immune Cell-Mediated Cell and Drug Delivery Platform

Abstract: Efficient drug delivery strategies into solid tumors that target primarily malignant cells and avoid damaging healthy tissue are limited by the pharmacokinetics, solubility and specificity of the chemotherapeutic drugs. Drug delivery into brain tumors is significantly more challenging due to the presence of the blood brain barrier. Glioblastoma, with a 5-year survival rate of only 5% is the most aggressive type of brain tumor. Despite modern treatment techniques (e.g. chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical removal), the prognosis remains dismal. To address this clinical challenge, we designed a targeted drug delivery system using genetically modifiedchimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cells to target glioblastoma tumors and polymeric nanoparticles to encapsulate the therapeutic drug. Nanoparticles provide a great opportunity to develop a targeted delivery system that in conjunction with immune cells can specifically deliver drugs to brain tumors.

Biography: Prof. Dong received his Ph.D in Engineering Science and Mechanics in 1988 from Columbia University. He is currently a Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Head of the Penn State Department of Biomedical Engineering. He has received several prestigious honors and awards, including the US National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Career Award, American Cancer Society Faculty Research Award, ASME Y.C. Fung Investigator Award, ASME Melville Medal, ASME Best Journal Paper Award, and BMES Harold Lamport Young Investigator Award. The major focus of Dr. Dong's research is to elucidate biomechanical, biophysical and biochemical aspects of cellular function in the circulatory systems, with particular interest in cell adhesion, cell migration, cell signaling, cellular biomechanics and multi-scale modeling of biological systems. Current research at Penn State University includes studies of micro- hemodynamics, coagulation, leukocyte rheology, intercellular and intracellular signaling, cancer immunology and metastases. In particular, he is investigating how fluid dynamics, adhesion kinetics and tumor microenvironment change leukocyte and/or endothelial immune functions which subsequently affect tumor cell extravasation in the microcirculation and subsequent metastasis. He is also collaborating with material scientist and neural science biologist on most-recent designs of immune cell-mediated nanoparticle and drug delivery targeting brain tumors.


October 10, 2018

Debiao Li

Distinguished Speaker, Cedars-Sinai, USC

Title: Magnetic Resonance Fingerprinting of Coronary Artery Disease

Abstract: Coronary artery disease remains the leading cause of death in the world. Early detection and characterization of the coronary artery disease is important for proper treatment. Coronary artery disease is caused by the development of atherosclerosis or plaque on the wall of the coronary arteries, which causes partial obstruction to blood flow in the coronary arteries, myocardial ischemia/infarction, and various degrees of myocardial tissue damage and functional impairment. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been used to image coronary arteries and characterize myocardial tissue properties. MRI can noninvasively detect biomarkers of high risk coronary artery plaques that may cause major cardiac events in the future. It can also accurately detect myocardial blood flow reduction and the resulting myocardial structural remodeling such as fiber orientation changes and tissue damages such as fibrosis and necrosis. It also allows evaluation of impaired ventricular function. An overview of various MRI techniques to image the coronary artery and myocardial tissue will be provided. Technical challenges and future developments will be discussed.

Biography: Debiao Li, PhD received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia in 1992. He was an Assistant Professor of Radiology at Washington University in St. Louis (1993-1998), Associate Professor (1998-2004), Professor (2004-2010) of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering, and Director of Cardiovascular MR Research (2004- 2010) at Northwestern University, Chicago. Since 2010, Dr. Li has been the Inaugural Director of the Biomedical Imaging Research Institute and Storz Endowed Chair in honor of George Berci at Cedars- Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, Professor of Medicine and Bioengineering at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Li has published more than 270 research articles and 19 book chapters. He has received more than $30M of research funding from National Institutes of Health. Dr. Li served as President of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) (2011- 2012), the premier professional society that promotes innovation, development, and application of magnetic resonance techniques in medicine and biology throughout the world. He also served as President of the Society for Magnetic Resonance Angiography (2006-2007), President of the Overseas Chinese Society for MR in Medicine (OCSMRM) (2006-2008), and member of Board of Trustees, Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (SCMR) (2009-2012). He is Associate Editor of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (MRM) and the Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (JMRI). He is a fellow of ISMRM and American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. He is widely recognized as a leader in cardiovascular MR research, including coronary artery imaging, atherosclerosis imaging, myocardial blood flow measurement, and non-contrast MR angiography.


October 24, 2018

Ali Khademhosseini

University Distinguished Professor, Department of Bioengineering, UCLA

Title: Nano- and Microfabricated Hydrogels for Regenerative Engineering

Abstract: Ali Khademhosseini is the Levi Knight Professor of Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering and Radiology and the Founding Director of the Center for Minimally Invasive Therapeutics at University of California- Los Angeles (UCLA). He joined UCLA in Nov. 2017 from Harvard University where he was Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS), and a faculty at Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology and the Wyss Institute. At Harvard, he directed the
Biomaterials Innovation Research Center (BIRC) a world renown bioengineering initiative which comprised of over 100 researchers. He is a leader in applying bioengineering solutions to precision medicine. His large and interdisciplinary group is interested in developing ‘personalized’ solutions that utilize micro- and nanoscale technologies to enable arange of therapies for organ failure, cardiovascular disease and cancer. For example, he has developed numerous techniques in controlling the behavior of patient-derived cells to engineer artificial tissues and cell-based therapies. He is also developing ‘organ-on-a-chip’ systems that aim to mimic human physiology and pathology to enable patient-specific evaluation of drug candidates. In addition, his laboratory is a leader in utilizing 3D bioprinting to form vascularized tissues as well as to direct stem cell differentiation. He has also pioneered various high-performance biomaterials that can respond to each patient’s needs.

Biography: Engineered materials that integrate advances in polymer chemistry, nanotechnology, and biological sciences have the potential to create powerful medical therapies. Our group aims to engineer tissue regenerative therapies using water-containing polymer networks, called hydrogels, that can regulate cell behavior. Specifically, we have developed photocrosslinkable hybrid hydrogels that combine natural biomolecules with nanoparticles to regulate the chemical,
biological, mechanical and electrical properties of gels. These functional scaffolds induce the differentiation of stem cells to desired cell types and direct the formation of vascularized heart or bone tissues. Since tissue function is highly dependent on architecture, we have also used microfabrication methods, such as microfluidics, photolithography, bioprinting, and molding, to regulate the architecture of these materials. We have employed these strategies to generate miniaturized tissues. To create tissue complexity, we have also developed directed assembly techniques to compile small tissue modules into larger constructs. It is anticipated that such approaches will lead to the development of next-generation regenerative therapeutics and biomedical devices.


October 31, 2018

Volkmar Heinrich

Associate Professor in Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California Davis

Title: Venturing into the sprawling frontier that is cell and molecular immunophysics 

Abstract: How do individual immune cells detect, interpret, and respond to the chemical and physical telltale signs of the presence of nearby pathogens? A comprehensive quantitative understanding of the underlying processes is key to a future precision medicine that will be truly personalized and predictive. But such understandings is impossible without a thorough exploration of the sprawling frontier of subdisciplines of immunology that complement immunobiology. New experimental and conceptual paradigms have started to tackle this challenge, often with the additional advantage of precluding many of the uncertainties inherent in traditional studies of model systems. The integration of single-live-cell/single-pathogen experiments with physically realistic and biological plausible mathematical models has proven to be a powerful approach to reveal new insights into the behavior of human and other immune cells. In this talk, I will discuss how modern concepts and tools of nano-to-microscale biophysics can be adopted to address open questions about the inner workings of the human immune system. I will present examples demonstrating the prospects and challenges of single-molecule and single-cel experiments on live immune cells, placing them into the context of vital immune-cell functions such as chemotaxis, adhesion, and phagocytosis. 

Biography: Dr. Volkmar Heinrich is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at UC Davis. In addition to the BME Graduate Group, he is a member of the Graduate Groups of Biophysics, Chemical Engineering, Immunology, and Microbiology. Dr. Heinrich graduated with a Ph.D. in theoretical biophysics from Humboldt University Berlin, Germany, in 1992. Since then, he has conducted integrative experimental/theoretical research at the cell and molecular scale as postdoc and research faculty at the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), University of Rochester (NY), University of British Columbia (Canada), and Boston University (MA), before joining the faculty at the University of California, Davis in 2005.

November 7, 2018

Jiandi Wan 

Associate Professor in Department of Chemical Engineering, University of California Davis

Title: The Emerging roles of Erythrocytes in the Regulation of Cerebral Microcirculation 

Abstract: Thinking, reading, writing, or throwing a baseball are all activities in which neural activity is coupled with local elevation in cerebral blood flow. The mechanisms by which neural activity triggers hyperemia have been extensively studied, in part, because neurovascular coupling forms the basis for functional brain imaging. Defects in neurovascular coupling are also believed to contribute to cognitive decline in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer disease, as well as in hypertension and stroke. Despite the uncontested tight linkage between neural activity and cerebrovascular responses, the question of what drives functional hyperemia is still debated. Most recently, it has emerged that functional hyperemia is initiated in the smallest blood vessels in brain, capillaries: activity-driven decreases in oxygen tension (PO 2 ) can directly increase the velocity of red blood cells (RBCs) passage through capillaries, measured both in vivo and ex vivo. Analysis in microfluidic chambers, in which RBC velocity can be studied in the absence of the neurovascular unit, shows that changes in PO 2 can directly trigger an increase in RBC flow velocity by increasing RBC deformability, thus decreasing vascular resistance. As such, RBCs are active players in capillary hyperemia, and promptly increase O 2 delivery in response to activity-induced localchanges in PO 2. This provides a simple yet robust mechanism for swift and precise local increases in capillary flow in response to the ever-changing patterns of neural activity within the central nervous system.

This talk describes the efforts our group has made to understand the mechanosensing dynamics of RBCs and focuses on the current findings of RBCs in the regulation of cerebral capillary hyperemia. Specifically, I will introduce a multifaceted approach we developed to dissect the molecular pathways driving the initial events leading to increased capillary RBC velocity and the engineering principles behind the change of capillary RBC velocity. Our study represents an entirely novel approach to resolve the connection between neural activity and the hemodynamic response and thus is expected to provide novel insights to neurovascular coupling and functional brain imaging and potential therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative diseases, stroke, and aging.

Biography: Jiandi Wan currently holds an assistant professor position in the Chemical Engineering Department at UC Davis and an adjunct assistant professor position at the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at University of Rochester Medical Center. He obtained bachelor and master degrees from Wuhan University and PhD from Boston University, and did postdoc trainings at Harvard University and Princeton University. Dr. Wan’s current research interests include neurovascular coupling, organ-on-chip and advanced functional materials.


November 14, 2018

Wei Gao 

Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering Division of Engineering and Applied Science California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA

Title: Wearable Sweat Sensors for Personalized Health Monitoring

Abstract: The rising research interest in personalized and precision medicine promises to revolutionize traditional medical practices. This presents a tremendous opportunity for developing wearable devices toward predictive analytics and treatment. In this talk, I will introduce fully-integrated flexible biosensors for multiplexed in-situ perspiration analysis, which can selectively and accurately measure a wide spectrum of sweat analytes (e.g., metabolites, electrolytes, heavy metals, drugs and other small molecules). This platform allows us to gain real-time insight into the sweat secretion and gland physiology. I will also demonstrate an integrated wearable sweat extraction and sensing system which can be programmed to induce sweat on demand with various secretion profiles. To demonstrate the clinical value of our wearable sweat sensing platform, human subject studies were performed toward fitness monitoring, physiological monitoring, cystic fibrosis diagnosis and drug monitoring. These wearable and flexible devices open the door to a wide range of personalized monitoring and diagnostic applications.

Biography: Wei Gao is an Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering in Division of Engineering and Applied Science at the California Institute of Technology. He received his PhD in Chemical Engineering at University of California, San Diego in 2014 as a Jacobs Fellow and HHMI International Student Research Fellow. In 2014-2017, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a recipient of 2018 Sensors Young Investigator Award, 2016 MIT Technology Review 35 Innovators Under 35 (TR35) and 2015 ACS Young Investigator Award (Division of Inorganic Chemistry). His research interests include wearable devices, biosensors, flexible electronics, micro/nanorobotics and nanomedicine. For more information about Gao’s research, visit www.gao.caltech.edu/.