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Elizabeth Nance: September 28, 2020

Eric Appel

Elizabeth Nance

Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor
University of Washington

Nano and neuro technology development for kids

Monday, September 28, 2020, 2:30-3:20 p.m. PDT

Contact for the meeting ID and  password. Please include your university affiliation and interest in the seminar. 


The means to gather real-time 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 brain. In this talk, we will discuss our use of nanotechnology, neurobiology, and data science tools to characterize changes in brain microenvironments in living brain tissue and evaluate the subsequent impact on nanotherapeutic design and implementation. First, we focus on developing a higher throughout, quantitative, real-time method of imaging cell and nanoparticle behavior within the neonatal or perinatal brain. We show organotypic brain slices can be modulated to capture disease pathways common in many neurological disorders, providing one model for therapeutic screening. Using multiple particle tracking, we track 10,000’s of nanoparticles in organotypic brain slices, extract nanoparticle trajectories, and apply machine learning to predict aspects of nanoparticle behavior in brain tissue slices. This work demonstrates that multiple particle tracking of nanoparticle probes in the brain can be used in combination with molecular, cellular, and functional techniques to extract new insights in region-dependent or pathology-dependent effects on nano-based technologies. Second, we engineer nanotherapeutics to leverage transport in the brain. We show nanotherapeutics can be targeted to regions of the brain that contain diseased cells, as well as to specific cell types within those regions, for increased neuroprotection in neonatal and pediatric brain disease. We close the talk with a perspective on translation of nano-neurotherapeutics into the clinic for use in children, a population that remains highly underserved by novel technology development.


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 B.S. in Chemical Engineering from NC State University, and her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering with Dr. Justin Hanes. She then completed a postdoc with Dr. Sujatha Kannan in Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, with a research emphasis in neuroscience, at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Elizabeth is an active collaborator in the neuroscience, neurology, and pediatric fields. In 2019, she received the Presidential Early Career Achievement in Science & Engineering (PECASE) award, and the UW Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, given to 4 faculty across the three UW campuses. She is a recipient of the NIGMS R35 MIRA award and the Burroughs Wellcome Career Award. In 2018, she was the European Union Horizons 2020 Training Network Inspiring Young Scientist in Nanomedicine and was named a Young Innovator in Nanobiotechnology, and in 2015, was listed on Forbes 30 under 30 in Science as one of the “most disruptive, game-changing and innovating young personalities in science.” Elizabeth takes an active role in mentoring young women, from middle school age to post-graduate, in pursuing engineering in scientific and health fields. In January 2016, she founded Women in Chemical Engineering (WChE), an organization for graduate and undergraduate student women chemical engineers, and their male allies, focused on empowering, strengthening, and promoting the network of women chemical engineers across all levels. In 2018, she received the Association for Women in Science Early Career Achievement in STEM award for her scientific and outreach work.