BIOE: "Engineering Immunity with Nanotechnology"

Speaker Dr. Gabriel A. Kwong, Assistant Professor, Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Tech and Emory School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA
Date: 9/19/2017
Time: 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.

2240 Digital Computer Lab, 1304 W Springfield Avenue, Urbana, IL

Event Contact: Lisa Leininger

Department of Bioengineering

Event Type: Seminar/Symposium

"Engineering Immunity with Nanotechnology"


Human health has been transformed by our ability to engineer immunity – from the pivotal development of the smallpox vaccine to the curative potential of recent cancer immunotherapies. These examples motivate our research program where we merge engineering tools with immunology, creating new biotechnologies to better detect and treat diseases like cancer, organ transplant rejection, and infection. In this seminar, we will broadly describe our research in three vignettes that all leverage advances from nanotechnology: profiling immune repertoires, noninvasive monitoring of immunological health, and engineering T cell based therapies. First, we will describe the development of dynamic antibody-DNA gates for massively multiplexed analysis and sorting of immune cells. Unlike fluorescence based methods, a cytometry framework built on DNA gates can be readily scaled to analyze immune repertoires, such as identifying immunodominant viral epitopes for vaccine design. Second, we are developing activity-based nanoparticles that sense antigen-specific T cell killing in vivo by producing an ultrasensitive signal in urine. In the context of organ transplants, these nanoparticles detect the onset of acute T cell rejection at an early stage when treatments are most effective. Lastly, we will share research where we engineer T cell therapies with thermal gene switches so that their cancer-killing activity can be remotely controlled using pulses of heat. We envision the applications of these technologies will shape an array of immunological systems, and will increase our understanding of the immune system and how it can be controlled in health and disease.


Dr. Kwong is an Assistant Professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering of Georgia Tech and Emory School of Medicine. He earned his B.S. in Bioengineering with Highest Honors from University of California at Berkeley, his Ph.D. from Caltech, and conducted postdoctoral studies at MIT. His research program integrates advances from engineering and immunology, and focuses on the development of biomedical diagnostics and cell based therapies to address challenges in cancer, transplantation medicine, and infectious diseases. His work has been published in leading scientific journals such as Nature Biotechnology and Nature Medicine, and profiled broadly including coverage in The Economist, NPR, BBC, and WGBH-2, Boston’s PBS station. In recognition of his work, Dr. Kwong was named a "Future Leader in Cancer Research and Translational Medicine" by the Massachusetts General Hospital, and is a recipient of the NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award at the Scientific Interface, and the NIH Director's New Innovator Award. Dr. Kwong holds ten issued or pending patents, and has launched one biotechnology startup company.

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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1270 Digital Computer Laboratory, MC-278
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