Project Description

Nancy Allbritton
Frank & Julie Jungers Dean
College of Engineering
Professor of Bioengineering

nlallbr@uw.edu
Phone: (206) 543-1829
Office: 371 Loew Hall


Research in my laboratory focuses on the development of novel methods to answer fundamental questions in biology & medicine. Much of biology & medicine is technology limited in that leaps in knowledge follow closely on the heels of new discoveries and inventions in the physical and engineering sciences; consequently, interdisciplinary groups which bridge these different disciplines are playing increasingly important roles in biomedical research. My lab has developed partnerships with other investigators in the areas of biology, medicine, chemistry, physics, and engineering to design, fabricate, test, and utilize new tools for biomedical and clinical research. Collaborative projects include novel strategies to measure enzyme activity in single cells by capillary and microfluidic electrophoresis, new strategies for software identification of cellular attributes by microscopy, organ-on-a-chip technologies, array-based methods for cell screening, and biodegradable scaffolding for regenerative medicine. An additional focus area is the development of software and instrumentation to support these applications areas. I have >20 issued patents and >25 pending patents which have led to 15 commercial products. Four companies have been formed based on my research discoveries: Protein Simple (acquired by Bio-Techne in 2014 for over $0.3 billion), Intellego, Cell Microsystems (cellmicrosystems.com), and Altis Biosystems (www.altisbiosystems.com). Cell Microsystems currently has world-wide distribution of its unique cell sorting platform through an agreement with the biotechnology company Qiagen and Altis Biosystems has >7 ongoing confidential partnerships with pharma/biotech companies. These accomplishments demonstrate my ability to design and build novel technologies and then translate these technologies into the marketplace to insure their availability to the biomedical research community.

in-vitro Tissue Models; Single-Cell Enzyme Assays; Cell Arrays; Biomedical Microdevices, Integrated Microelectrophoresis Platforms; Automation and Instrumentation; Intestine-on-Chip

My research interests are multidisciplinary bringing to bear principles and techniques from chemistry, physics, engineering, and materials science to develop new assays and technologies for biomedical and clinical applications. The ongoing work in the lab comprises three major focus areas:

  1. Analytical techniques for single-cell biochemical assays,
  2. Microfabricated platforms for high-throughput cytometry and isolation of cells for genetic analyses and cloning, and
  3. Microengineered systems for recapitulating organ level function.

Many of the lab’s projects and extensive collaborations within these focus areas involve the development and application of new technologies for oncology, gastrointestinal diseases, and stem cell research.

1987 Ph.D. Medical Physics/Medical Engineering, Health Sciences and Technology, Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
1985 M.D. Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
1979 B.S. Physics, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA

1989-1994 Postdoctoral Fellow with Dr. Lubert Stryer, Dept. of Cell Biology, Stanford University
1994-2007 Professor, University of California at Irvine, Depts of Physiology and Biophysics, Biomedical
Engineering, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
2007-2019 Kenan Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, Depts of Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry, Pharmacology, Materials Science and Engineering, Applied Physical Sciences, Molecular Pharmaceutics

2020 Ralph Adams Award in Bioanalytical Chemistry
2019 Hector Lopez Memorial Lecture, National Advisory Council for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
2019 – 2021 Advisory Board, Center for Subcellular Genomics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
2019 – 2021 External Advisory Board, Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
2018 Distinguished Lecturer, North Carolina Section of the American Chemical Society
2018 – 2021 Beckman Foundation Scientific Advisory Board
2017 Edward Kidder Graham Award for Leadership and Service to UNC and the State of North Carolina
2017 – 2020 Elected as a member of the Electorate Nominating Committee (ENC) of the Section on Medical Sciences in AAAS
2017 – 2020 Advisory Board, Coulter Dept. of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University
2017 UNC “Inventor of the Year” Award
2016 – 2021 Editorial Board, Annual Reviews in Analytical Chemistry
2016 – 2021 External Advisory Board, Dept. of Bioengineering, Imperial College, London
2016 Charles M. Knight Lecturer at The University of Akron
2016 ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry, Award in in Chemical Instrumentation
2015 Elected as a Fellow, AAAS
2015 IEEE Life Sciences Leadership Award (NC Division)
2015 Elected as a Fellow, National Academy of Inventors
2013 – 2016 Member, Scientific Advisory Committee, Beckman Foundation
2012 – 2014 Analytical Chemistry Editorial Advisory Board
2010 – 2013 National Councilor Member, Biophysical Society
2010 Elected as a Fellow, American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering
2009 Mary K. and Velmer A. Fassel Award, Dept. of Chemistry, Iowa State University
2004 UCI College of Medicine Excellence in Teaching Award
2003 UCI Midcareer Research Award
1995 Searle Scholar Award
1995 Beckman Young Investigator Award

Undergraduate and Graduate Research

Wheeler, E.C., Vu, A.Q., DiSalvo, M., Einstein, J.M., Ahmed, N., Jin, W., Allbritton, N.L., Yeo, G.W. 2020. Pooled CRISPR screens with image-based phenotyping on microRaft arrays reveals stress granule-regulatory factors. Nature Methods. In Press.

LaBelle, C.A., Zhang, R.J., Armistead, P.M., Allbritton, N.L. 2020. Assay and Isolation of Single Proliferating CD4+ Lymphocytes Using an Automated Microraft Array Platform. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering. EPub ahead of print. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2019.2956081.

Hinman, S.S., Wang, Y., Allbritton, N.L. 2019. Photopatterned Membranes and Chemical Gradients Enable Scalable Phenotypic Organization of Primary Human Colon Epithelial Models. Anal. Chem. 91:15240?15247.

Kim, R., Attayek, P.J., Wang, Y., Furtado, K.L., Tamayo, R., Sims, C.E., Allbritton, N.L. 2019. An in vitro intestinal platform with a self-sustaining oxygen gradient to study the human gut/microbiome interface. Biofabrication. 12:015006.

DiSalvo, M., Smiddy, N.M., Allbritton, N.L. 2019. Automated Sensing and Splitting of Stem Cell Colonies on Microraft Arrays. APL Bioengineering. 3:036106.

Wang, Y., Kim, R., Sims, C.E., Allbritton, N.L. 2019. Building a thick mucus hydrogel layer to improve the physiological relevance of in vitro primary colonic epithelial models. Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 8:653–655.e5

Proctor, A. Wang, Q., Lawrence, D.S., Allbritton, N.L. 2019. Selection and Optimization of Enzyme Reporters for Chemical Cytometry. Methods in Enzymology. 622:221-248.

Dutton, J.S., Hinman, S.S., Kim, R., Wang, Y., Allbritton, N.L. 2019. Primary Cell-Derived Intestinal Models: Recapitulating Physiology. Trends in Biotechnology. 37:744-760.

Proctor, A., Allbritton, N.L. 2019. “Fix and Assay”: Separating in-cellulo sphingolipid reactions from analytical assay in time and space using an aldehyde-based fixative. Analyst. 144:961-971.

Wang, Y., Gunesakara, D.B., Reed, M.I., DiSalvo, M., Nguyen, D.L., Bultman, S.J., Sims, C.E., Magness, S.T., Allbritton, N.L. 2018. Formation of Human Colonic Crypt Array by Application of Chemical Gradients across a Shaped Epithelial Monolayer. Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 5:113–130.

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