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Spring 2017

All seminars take place on Mondays from 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm in 2420 LEEP2, unless otherwise specified.


January 23rd:

Speaker: Dr. Steve Gehrke

New Spring 2017 students only

New Students Only review


January 30th:

Speaker: Leda R. Castilho, Ph.D.

Professor of Biochemical Engineering, COPPE - Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil, and currently a visiting scientist at the Vaccine Research Center of NIAID/NIH, USA

“Development of upstream and downstream processes for the production of biopharmaceuticals and vaccines”

Biopharmaceutical products, including vaccines, monoclonal antibodies and other therapeutic proteins, now account for about 900 novel products, or roughly 30% of all drugs under development worldwide. Biologicals represent the majority among the top 10 pharma products by sales, and their market is expected to grow to US$445 billion in 2019, reaching by then a 26% share of worldwide pharma sales (prescription and OTC).

In the last years, market pressures due to the growing competition from off-patent biosimilars, to multiple product pipelines, to treatments targeting chronic conditions, and to the need for greater product/scale/plant location flexibility, have been driving biopharmaceutical industries to shift from an approach targeting time-to-market to a focus on process intensification and more efficient production technologies.

Several examples of the development of technologies to produce biologicals will be presented in this talk, ranging from recombinant coagulation factors to viral vaccines. Bioprocessing studies involving cell line development and cell cultivation, as well as product purification, characterization and formulation, will be discussed.


February 13th:

Speaker: Malgorzata A. Witek, Ph.D.

Associate Research Professor, Department of Chemistry, Center of BioModular Multi-Scale Systems for Precision Medicine (CBMM)

"Microfluidics for Isolation of Orthogonal Populations of Circulating Tumor Cells"

Liquid biopsies are becoming an attractive, minimally-invasive source of biomarkers. One of the principle biomarker found in blood related to epithelial cancers is circulating tumor cell (CTC). Enumeration of CTC revealed prognostic value in metastatic breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer patients1. In other type of malignancies, however, the challenge associated with CTCs has been the modest clinical sensitivity demonstrated using the FDA-approved platform. The question arises: does the biology limit the CTC burden or is the analytical platform used for their isolation limiting? Indeed, many microfluidic platforms have shown much higher clinical sensitivity in other type of cancers compared to the FDA-approved test.

We have developed a CTC selection strategy that employs polymeric microfluidic devices modified with monoclonal antibodies for selection of CTC subpopulations. In this presentation, I will discuss fabrication methods for the thermoplastic-based microfluidics and will introduce the principles behind isolation of CTC in our microfluidic chip. I will present the clinical results secured using these devices and the molecular profiling of these rare cells.


February 27th

Speaker: A.J. Mellott, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery, University of Kansas Medical Center

“An Evaluation of Negative Pressure Therapy in Wound Healing”

Negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) has greatly advanced the field of wound healing for nearly two decades, by providing a robust surgical adjunct technique for enhancing wound closure in acute and chronic wounds. Despite the incredible success of NPWT, much remains to be elucidated about how NPWT augments wound healing. The Vacuum Assisted Closure (V.A.C.) system developed by Kinetic Concepts Inc. (KCI) is well known to promote and accelerate the formation of granulation tissue; however, the role the V.A.C plays in re-epithelialization and wound contraction is not clear. Successful wound healing and wound closure requires both re-epithelialization and contraction in addition to formation of granulation tissue. Thus, there is a need to examine how wound tissue interacts with negative pressure dressings while under negative pressure in real time as the stages of wound healing progress. Our group is interested in how different cells respond under negative pressure and interface with different medical dressings. We are exploring how cell signaling changes over time within the wound site, as well as bacterial migration patterns and clearance from the wound site so that we may enhance the application of negative pressure therapies in wound healing. 


March 13th:



March 27th:

Speaker: Lisa Stehno-Bittel,

Ph.D.Research Professor, Deptartment of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, University of Kansas Medical Center

Co-Founder and President, Likarda, L.L.C.

A Long and Winding Road: The Importance of Professional Flexibility

Dr. Stehno-Bittel will discuss the importance of flexibility in recognizing and seizing new opportunities as they present themselves.  She will draw on her 22 years in academia, 5 years in healthcare, and 5 years in private industry to provide real-life examples of career advancement.


April 10th:

Speaker: Michele Grimm, Ph.D.

Program Director, Engineering of Biomedical Systems Program (EBMS), Disability & Rehabilitation Engineering Program (DARE), Chemical, Bioengineering Environmental & Transport Systems Divisions

Navigating (and Hopefully Receiving) BME-Related Funding from NSF

This seminar will discuss the various programs at the NSF that support BME-related projects, the various funding mechanisms, and best practices for preparing a successful grant application.


April 17th:

Qualifying Exam Review Session:  This session is required ONLY for those students who plan to take the qualifying exam this year.  


April 24th:

Speaker: Leighton LaPierre, Ph.D.

CEO, Evoke Medical, LLC

Should I Stay or Should I Go

One of the more difficult decisions an engineering college student must make is whether or not to stay in school to pursue a graduate degree or go out "into the real world."  This seminar will provide a perspective from one University of Kansas Engineering Alumni that had to make that very same decision.  Leighton LaPierre will share his career history and lessons learned in the medical device industry over the past 9 years. Hint:  network, network, network.


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