Department Seminar

Probing Neuroinflammation: Implications for Therapeutic Intervention in the Developing Brain

Speaker Details:

Elizabeth Nance
Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering
University of Washington

Lecture Details:

April 27, 2017
12:30 p.m. - 1:20 p.m.
Foege N130A, Wallace H. Coulter Seminar Room


Currently, the means to gather real-time molecular information from the diseased human brain is limited, and high-throughput platforms that can assay neurological disease severity representative of the in vivo environment are still lacking. In addition, for the treatment of brain diseases, penetration, movement, and cellular interaction of a therapeutic within the brain is critical to the success of the therapeutic. Nanotechnology, which consists of small, highly-tailorable platforms, can provide a modality to survey a disease environment, as well as a vehicle for site-specific, controlled, and sustained-release of therapeutics to the central nervous system (CNS). Our research combines nanotechnology and neuroscience tools with preclinical models to understand transport limitations at the macro- and micro-scale in the brain. One aim of our work is to focus on developing a high throughout, quantitative, real-time method of imaging cell and nanoparticle behavior within the neonatal or perinatal brain in the presence of disease. When engineered nanoparticles leverage transport behavior in the brain, these platforms can be targeted to regions of the brain that contain diseased cells, as well as to specific cell types within those regions. A second aim of our work is to use systems-level thinking to characterize how common disease hallmarks, such as inflammation, impaired fluid flow, and excitotoxicity, play a role in the ability to diagnose and treat neurodevelopmental diseases. In this seminar, we will focus on inflammation-mediated brain disease in the developing brain, including cerebral palsy and neonatal stroke, and the use of nanotechnology as a probe of neuroinflammation. Our long-term goal is to utilize a systems-analysis approach in patients to give real-time, quantitative information about the brain that can take advantage of the presence of disease hallmarks to improve diagnosis and direct our therapeutic strategies.

Speaker Bio:

Dr. Elizabeth Nance joined the University of Washington in September 2015 as the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, with an adjunct appointment in Radiology. Elizabeth received her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, and Bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University in Chemical Engineering. Prior to starting her faculty position, she completed a postdoc in Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Elizabeth has over 20 publications, holds two patents for nanotechnology uses in the brain, and has given over 30 invited talks, including on the TED stage and at the Aspen Institute. In January 2016, she founded Women in Chemical Engineering, an organization for graduate and undergraduate student women ChemEs, and their male allies, focused on empowering, strengthening, and promoting the network of women ChemEs across all levels, while not enabling self-stereotyping or stereotype threat.