I am responsible for advancing multidisciplinary research, combining biology, chemistry, and materials science to create new innovative bio-hybrids and biomaterials. In previous work, I've investigated cell-material interfaces for biomedical applications and developed 3D polymers for control of cell behavior. Currently, I am interested in using motile cells, such as swimming bacteria or contractile muscle cells as bio-engines for micro- and nanorobotics.
PhD: Chemistry, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, MA, USA 2014
BS: Chemistry, University of New Hampshire, NH, USA 2009
ACS Nano, 0(0):null, September 2017, PMID: 28933815 (article)
Biofilm colonies are typically resistant to general antibiotic treatment and require targeted methods for their removal. One of these methods includes the use of nanoparticles as carriers for antibiotic delivery, where they randomly circulate in fluid until they make contact with the infected areas. However, the required proximity of the particles to the biofilm results in only moderate efficacy. We demonstrate here that the nonpathogenic magnetotactic bacteria Magnetosopirrillum gryphiswalense (MSR-1) can be integrated with drug-loaded mesoporous silica microtubes to build controllable microswimmers (biohybrids) capable of antibiotic delivery to target an infectious biofilm. Applying external magnetic guidance capability and swimming power of the MSR-1 cells, the biohybrids are directed to and forcefully pushed into matured Escherichia coli (E. coli) biofilms. Release of the antibiotic, ciprofloxacin, is triggered by the acidic microenvironment of the biofilm, ensuring an efficient drug delivery system. The results reveal the capabilities of a nonpathogenic bacteria species to target and dismantle harmful biofilms, indicating biohybrid systems have great potential for antibiofilm applications.
Bacteria biohybrids employ the motility and power of swimming bacteria to carry and maneuver microscale particles. They have the potential to perform microdrug and cargo delivery in vivo, but have been limited by poor design, reduced swimming capabilities, and impeded functionality. To address these challenge, motile Escherichia coli are captured inside electropolymerized microtubes, exhibiting the first report of a bacteria microswimmer that does not utilize a spherical particle chassis. Single bacterium becomes partially trapped within the tube and becomes a bioengine to push the microtube though biological media. Microtubes are modified with “smart” material properties for motion control, including a bacteria-attractant polydopamine inner layer, addition of magnetic components for external guidance, and a biochemical kill trigger to cease bacterium swimming on demand. Swimming dynamics of the bacteria biohybrid are quantified by comparing “length of protrusion” of bacteria from the microtubes with respect to changes in angular autocorrelation and swimmer mean squared displacement. The multifunctional microtubular swimmers present a new generation of biocompatible micromotors toward future microbiorobots and minimally invasive medical applications.
Our goal is to understand the principles of Perception, Action and Learning in autonomous systems that successfully interact with complex environments and to use this understanding to design future systems