Mondays // 4-5 PM // LEEP2 2420

February 4th

Stevin Gehrke, Ph.D.
Professor, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering


February 18th Biophysics of Molecular Motors

Chris Fischer, Ph.D.
Director of Engineering Physics Program

A brief review of the biophysics program within our department, emphasizing recent characterizations of DNA-interacting molecular motors. This includes the nucleosome binding and repositioning activities of the chromatin remodeler ISWI and the identification of the energetically rate-limiting process in nucleosome sliding. In addition to challenging the standard models for DNA damage detection, the results highlight the importance of assay development and applied mathematics in enzymology.


March 4th


March 25th

Richard Barohn, M.D.
Director of Frontiers: University of Kansas Clinical and Translational Science Institute

After completing a terminal degree such as a PhD, MD or DO, there are a number of professional career path options. These various options will be briefly explored for both PhDs and MDs/DOs in the biological sciences, advice and tips will then be provided for those with an intention of pursuing a research career at a university.


April 8th Hydrogels for Drug Screening and Protein Delivery Applications

Silviya Zustiak, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Saint Louis University

Dr. Zustiak’s work is focused on hydrogel biomaterials with emphasis on developing novel biomaterials as cell scaffolds, drug delivery devices and drug screening platforms. This presentation will highlight two main applications of hydrogels pursued by her laboratory - developing tumor spheroid models for drug screening applications and designing injectable hydrogels for the delivery of a multicomponent protein mixture.

Dr. Zustiak obtained a BS/MS degree in Bioelectrical Engineering from the Technical University in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2002 and a Ph.D. in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering from the University of Maryland Baltimore County in 2009. She conducted postdoctoral research in biophysics at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. In 2011 she received the NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence for her work on transport in complex media. Silviya joined the Biomedical Engineering Department at Saint Louis University (SLU) in January 2013. At SLU she was awarded the Outstanding Parks Graduate Faculty Award in 2015 and the SLU Scholarly Works Award for a Junior Faculty in 2017. Dr. Zustiak’s research is highly multidisciplinary, merging the fields of engineering, materials science, biophysics, and biology. Her work has resulted in over 40 peer-reviewed publications, over 150 presentations at national conferences and multiple patent applications.
More Research Info
We focus on multicellular tumor spheroids to model avascular tumors, with the goal of providing a means for predictive high-throughput drug screening to enable breakthrough cancer therapies. I will present the development of a templated hydrogel, which enabled us to grow uniform spheroid cultures directly inside a hydrogel matrix of well-defined properties. This was achieved by first fabricating cell-loaded, fast-degradable microspheres via electrospraying or microfluidics. These microspheres were then embedded in a hydrogel matrix, where they degraded, depositing the cells in uniform spheroid openings. Multicellular spheroids with a hypoxic core formed within 7-14 days upon encapsulation. Current research is aimed at comparing the cell transcriptome of matrix-grown and liquid-grown spheroids as well as the differences in spheroid behaviors and drug responses as a function of hydrogel matrix encapsulation and properties. Similar hydrogel chemistry and an electrospraying technology were used to fabricate degradable and injectable microspheres for the sustained delivery of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis (OA). OA is a chronic inflammation and wearing of articular cartilage that affects over 50 million Americans and PRP is a concentrated assortment of growth factors and cytokines derived from the patient’s own platelets. Currently, PRP is used as a direct injection in the knee joint to slow OA progression, but rapid clearance minimizes effectiveness. To overcome the raid clearance, we developed injectable and biodegradable microgels for sustained release of PRP. PRP showed an initial burst release, but individual PRP proteins were released in a sustained fashion until complete gel degradation as shown by multiplex analysis. Further, PRP released from microgels promoted chondrocyte growth in vitro and led to a reduction in gene expression for genes related to matrix degradation and upregulation of anti-inflammatory genes. Current work focuses on the evaluation of the developed PRP-delivery device in an in vivo osteoarthritis mouse model.


April 15th


April 29th RBC Medical Innovation

Allison McLean
Director of Manufacturing at RBC Medical Innovation, Lenexa, KS