https://engineering.wustl.edu/news/Pages/Gene-from-hardy-water-bug-brings-honors-to-WashU-iGEM-team.aspx781Gene from hardy water bug brings honors to WashU iGEM team <p>​Two Engineering students were part of an undergraduate team that brought home honors from the iGEM Giant Jamboree, where they competed with nearly 300 teams from around the world in early November. <br/></p><img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/WashU%20iGEM%20monsanto.png?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><div id="__publishingReusableFragmentIdSection"><a href="/ReusableContent/36_.000">a</a></div><p>Collin Kilgore and Zoe Orenstein were members of the <a href="http://2017.igem.org/Team:WashU_StLouis">Washington University in St. Louis iGEM team</a> that was one of only 10 U.S. teams to win a gold medal out of 75 total teams. In addition, the team was one of only five undergraduate teams to be nominated for Best Environmental Project, the largest track in the competition, and was nominated for a Best Hardware Prize. Being nominated in a track is among the highest honors in the competition.</p><p>iGEM teams are charged with solving a problem using synthetic biology. WashU's team set out to find a gene that would resist UVB radiation, a type of radiation that kills cyanobacteria, which are responsible for producing up to 80 percent of the world's oxygen. After several months of research, the team's hypothesis was to take the Dsup gene from the tardigrade, an exceptionally hardy type of water bug, and institute it into cyanobacteria to make it resistant to UVB radiation, which penetrates the atmosphere and plays a role in premature skin aging, cataracts and skin cancers in humans.</p><p>The WashU iGEM team was the first group of researchers to test the Dsup gene for UV radiation resistance. Working all summer in the labs of <a href="/Profiles/Pages/Yinjie-Tang.aspx">Yinjie Tang</a> and <a href="/Profiles/Pages/Fuzhong-Zhang.aspx">Fuzhong Zhang</a>, both associate professors of energy, environmental & chemical engineering, the team first introduced the Dsup gene into E. coli bacteria as a proof of concept. </p><blockquote>"We found that it protected the E. coli when exposed for long periods of time, and the cells without the gene died off," Orenstein said. </blockquote> <p>Over three hours, the Dsup-containing cells had an average survival rate of 49 percent, while the cells without the gene had a 2.3 percent average survival rate. </p><p>In addition, the team created a miniature version of an incubation room in which to grow their cells. Using materials from local hardware and pet stores, the team built an environmental simulation system for about $150 that controls temperature and monitors humidity to create an optimal cell-growing environment. This version, which compares with an $8,000 tabletop version available commercially, won the team a nomination for the Best Hardware Prize. </p><p>Janie Brennan, lecturer in the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering and the team's faculty adviser, has a long history with iGEM — she was on the undergraduate team at Purdue University, then became the graduate mentor of the Purdue team. Eugene Kim, a third-year doctoral student in Zhang's lab, was the graduate mentor. </p><p>Over the course of the team's work, team members visited Monsanto for a tour and met with Monsanto staff. The team gave its presentation to the Monsanto staff, who provided ideas and feedback. The team also talked with the company's legal counsel about how to navigate federal regulations for using its product. The company also provided financial support for the team.<br/></p><p>Kilgore and Orenstein said the model has the potential to boost the economic viability of biofuels. </p><p>"Professor <a href="/Profiles/Pages/Jay-Turner.aspx">Jay Turner</a> told us that making any type of measurable change within the survivability or efficiency of cells could be an important change for the field in general," Kilgore said. "We were definitely interested in making whatever changes we could."</p><p>Ultimately, the team's cells would be able to increase efficiency in biofuels by 3 percent to 4 percent, Orenstein said. </p><p>The 2017 iGEM team is recruiting for the 2018 team, which can choose to continue this project or begin another one, Kilgore said. Members of the 2017 team will serve as mentors to the 2018 team. </p><p>For more information on joining the iGEM team, visit <a href="http://tinyurl.com/applytoigem">tinyurl.com/applytoigem</a> or contact Brennan at <a href="mailto:jbrennan@wustl.edu">jbrennan@wustl.edu</a>.<br/></p> <SPAN ID="__publishingReusableFragment"></SPAN> <p> <br/> </p><p>​<br/><br/></p> <span> <div class="cstm-section"><h3>2017 iGEM team<br/></h3><div> <strong></strong></div><div><ul><li><strong>Collin Kilgore,</strong> a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering and mathematics<br/></li><li><strong>Maddie Lee,</strong> a junior majoring in biology<br/></li><li><strong>Zoe Orenstein</strong>, a junior majoring in biomedical engineering<br/></li><li><strong>Micah Rickles-Young,</strong> a senior majoring in biology: genomics and computation<br/></li><li><strong>Alex Yenkin,</strong> a junior majoring in biology<br/></li><li><strong>Mark Wang,</strong> a sophomore majoring in biochemistry<br/></li></ul></div></div></span> <p> <br/> </p>The iGEM team toured Monsanto facilities and talked with the company's legal counsel about how to navigate federal regulations for using its product.Beth Miller2017-12-06T06:00:00ZiGEM teams are charged with solving a problem using synthetic biology. WashU's team set out to find a gene that would resist UVB radiation.
https://engineering.wustl.edu/news/Pages/Engineers-uncover-the-design-principles-of-cellular-compartments.aspx779Engineers uncover the design principles of cellular compartments<p>​Membraneless organelles are tiny droplets inside a single cell, thought to regulate everything from division, to movement, to its very destruction. A better understanding of these mysterious structures could hold the key to unlocking a whole host of medical conditions, including developmental disorders, childhood cancers and age-related diseases.<br/></p><img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/WashU%20Engineering%20Pappu.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><div id="__publishingReusableFragmentIdSection"><a href="/ReusableContent/36_.000">a</a></div><p>​New research from the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis, published in the journal <a href="https://elifesciences.org/">eLife</a>, uncovers the principles underlying the formation and organization of membraneless organelles.<br/></p><p>“If our theory and modeling are correct, we ought to be able to design these organelles in the way we want to,” said <a href="https://source.wustl.edu/experts/rohit-pappu/">Rohit Pappu</a>, the Edwin H. Murty Professor of Engineering in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.</p><p>Protein molecules that drive the formation of membraneless organelles are like pearl necklaces. They consist of multiple sticky domains (the pearls) connected by flexible linkers (the necklace). These so-called multivalent proteins come together to form networks that are held together by physical crosslinks among the sticky domains. The number of domains within a molecule contributes to the number of crosslinks that are realizable.</p><p>However, the phenomenon of crosslinking explains only half the story of how membraneless organelles form. These organelles are also known as “condensates,” because multivalent proteins actually condense to form droplets, and this cannot be explained by crosslinking alone.</p><p>Pappu’s team wondered if the ability to form spherical droplets is determined by the flexible linkers that tether domains to one another. Working with Michael Rosen of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Pappu and his colleagues, postdoctoral fellows Tyler Harmon and Alex Holehouse, used computer simulations and polymer physics theory to show that the sequence-specific physical properties of linkers directly determine whether multivalent proteins form gels within spherical condensates or gels without forming droplets.</p><p>“We were able to identify the sequence features that promote the formation of spherical gels, which is what these membraneless organelles really are,” Pappu said. “We should therefore be able to design droplets with bespoke material properties, and start to make sense of how and why specific types of proteins drive droplet formation and how these droplets contribute to cellular functions.</p><p>“Being able to mimic and design naturally occurring structures is the dream of biophysical engineering, and we are excited about what lies in store.”</p><p>Read more about the published research in <a href="https://elifesciences.org/articles/30294">eLife</a>.<br/></p><span><hr/></span><h5 style="box-sizing: inherit; color: #2f3030; font-family: "source sans pro", "helvetica neue", helvetica, arial, sans-serif;"><strong style="box-sizing: inherit;">The study was funded by grants from: National Institutes of Health (RO1-GM56322); National Science Foundation (MCB1614766), Howard Hughes Medical Institute and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.</strong></h5><SPAN ID="__publishingReusableFragment"></SPAN><br/>Engineers at Washington University in St. Louis have uncovered the principles underlying the formation and organization of membraneless organelles, which are thought to regulate a single cell's movement and division. (Image: Pappu Lab)Erika Ebsworth-Gooldhttps://source.wustl.edu/2017/12/engineers-uncover-design-principles-cellular-compartments/2017-12-05T06:00:00ZNew research from engineers at Washington University in St. Louis uncovers the principles underlying the formation and organization of membraneless organelles.
https://engineering.wustl.edu/news/Pages/Chen-awarded-American-Cancer-Society-Institutional-Research-Grant.aspx776Chen awarded American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant<p><a href="/Profiles/Pages/Hong-Chen.aspx">​Hong Chen</a>, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and of radiation oncology in the School of Medicine, has received a one-year, $30,000 grant through the 2018 American Cancer Society - Institutional Research Grant (ACS-IRG).<br/></p><img alt="Hong Chen" src="/Profiles/PublishingImages/Chen_Hong_7_15_06.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>Treatment of brain disorders — a major public health problem in the United States — is particularly challenging because invasive surgeries carry the risk of damaging healthy brain tissue and systemically administered drug therapies often fail because the blood-brain barrier (BBB) precludes the delivery of drugs in the blood circulation to the brain. With the funding, Chen will develop a novel drug-delivery technique, called focused ultrasound-mediated intranasal (FUSIN), to noninvasively circumvent the BBB for localized brain drug delivery without jeopardizing healthy regions of the brain and other normal organs.</p><p style="color: #000000; font-family: "times new roman"; font-size: medium;"></p><p>The Washington University ACS-IRG annually awards up to four investigators these grants, which are designed to support junior faculty conducting cancer research pilot projects to obtain preliminary results that will enable them to compete successfully for national research grants.</p><p style="color: #000000; font-family: "times new roman"; font-size: medium;"></p><p>In 2017, <a href="/Profiles/Pages/Amit-Pathak.aspx">Amit Pathak</a>, assistant professor of mechanical engineering & materials science, received the award.<br/></p>Hong Chen2017-12-01T06:00:00ZHong Chen has received a one-year grant through the 2018 American Cancer Society - Institutional Research Grant (ACS-IRG).
https://engineering.wustl.edu/news/Pages/WashU-named-a-top-university-for-aspiring-entrepreneurs.aspx767WashU named top undergraduate program by Entrepreneur Magazine<p>​Washington University in St. Louis is among the top 25 Best Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Programs in the U.S., coming in at #7.<br/></p><img alt="WashU Campus" src="/news/PublishingImages/141020_jwb_brookings_007-1915x768.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>​Each year, Entrepreneur partners with <a href="https://www.princetonreview.com/" target="_blank" rel="follow noopener">The Princeton Review </a>to rank the top 25 undergraduate and <a href="https://www.entrepreneur.com/slideshow/303791" rel="follow">top 25 graduate</a> programs for entrepreneurs. The annual survey looks at more than 300 colleges and universities in the U.S. and considers the extent to which each school provides its students with world-class mentors, professors, and alumni, and immerses students in a thriving entrepreneurial environment. Over the past five years, WashU graduates have started 95 companies and collectively raised almost $354 million in funding.<br/></p><p>>> <a href="https://www.entrepreneur.com/slideshow/303790#7">Find the full ranking on Entrepreneur. </a></p>fuse.wustl.eduhttps://fuse.wustl.edu/washu-named-top-undergraduate-program-by-entrepreneur-magazine/2017-11-21T06:00:00ZWashington University in St. Louis is among the top 25 Best Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Programs in the U.S., coming in at #7.
https://engineering.wustl.edu/news/Pages/Alums-Brimer-Cohen-named-to-Forbes-30-Under-30.aspx760Alums Brimer, Cohen named to Forbes 30 Under 30<p>​In April 2013, two senior Engineering students won the School of Engineering & Applied Science's <a href="/news/Pages/Sparo-Labs-wins-$25,000-in-inaugural-Discovery-Competition.aspx">first Discovery Competition</a> for their low-cost medical device that measured lung function. This month, they were named to the prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2018.<br/></p><img alt="Andrew Brimer and Abby Cohen of Sparo Labs" src="/news/PublishingImages/Andrew%20Brimer%20and%20Abby%20Cohen.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><div id="__publishingReusableFragmentIdSection"><a href="/ReusableContent/36_.000">a</a></div><p>Andrew Brimer, who earned a degree in mechanical engineering, and Abby Cohen, who earned a degree in biomedical engineering, turned their Discovery Competition idea into Sparo Labs, which has continued to grow by leaps and bounds in four short years. The company has raised $2.7 million in funding since it was founded. The team also won at least 10 competitions, including the Olin Cup and the Student Technology Prize for Primary Healthcare. </p><p>The spirometer Brimer and Cohen developed became Wing, a pocket-sized device that measures lung function in patients with asthma or COPD and sends results to an app on a smartphone, allowing it to be used almost anywhere. Wing received FDA approval in June 2016. </p><p>Brimer and Cohen <a href="/news/Pages/Alumni-%E2%80%8Bentrepreneurs-invited-to-the-White-House.aspx">participated in the first-ever White House Demo Day hosted by then-President Barack Obama in August 2015</a>. Cohen was the only female and the only undergraduate student in the 2013 Class of Entrepreneurial Fellows by Pipeline. </p><p>Brimer and Cohen volunteer with the Skandalaris Summer Internship Program, a program that helps students find internships at local startups and incubate their own ideas; Prosper, an organization addressing the entrepreneur gender gap in the St. Louis region; Spark! Incubator, a startup incubator for high school students in the Parkway Public School District; and are on the board of directors for the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America - St. Louis Chapter. <br/></p><SPAN ID="__publishingReusableFragment"></SPAN><br/>​​​​​​<br/><br/><br/><span> <div class="cstm-section"><h3>Forbes 30 under 30<br/>Healthcare<br/></h3><div><ul><li> <strong style="font-size: 1em;">Andrew Brimer, 27</strong><br/></li><li> <strong style="font-size: 1em;">Abby Cohen, 26</strong></li></ul></div><div>For patients with asthma or COPD, getting a lung function measurement is tough. Abby Cohen and Andrew Brimer's Sparo has obtained clearance to sell a smartphone device to measure lung function, and raised $2.7 million.<br/></div><div> <br/> </div><div> <a href="https://www.forbes.com/30-under-30/2018/healthcare/#50e146e3662b">Read more on Forbes.com</a><br/></div></div></span><br/><span> <div class="cstm-section"><h3>Media Coverage<br/></h3><div> <strong>St. Louis Business Journal: </strong><a href="https://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/news/2017/11/15/4-st-louis-entrepreneurs-named-to-forbes-30-under.html">"5 St. Louis entrepreneurs named to Forbes' 30 Under 30 list"</a><br/></div></div></span><br/><br/> <div><div><div class="cstm-section"><h3>Entrepr​​eneurship at WashU</h3><ul><li> <a href="/our-school/initiatives/Pages/entrepreneurship.aspx">WashU engineers </a>are engaged in St. Louis' startup community and contribute to more than 20 accelerators and incubators.</li><li> <a href="http://fuse.wustl.edu/">WashU Fuse</a> - igniting innovation and connecting entrepreneurs​<br/></li></ul></div>​​​<br/></div></div>Andrew Brimer and Abby CohenBeth Miller 2017-11-16T06:00:00ZThe spirometer Andrew Brimer and Abby Cohen developed became Wing, a pocket-sized device that measures lung function in patients with asthma or COPD and sends results to an app on a smartphone, allowing it to be used almost anywhere.