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SEMINAR: Engineering Multivalent Systems for Biomedical

Speaker:  Franklin Mejia

Title: Engineering Multivalent Systems for Biomedical and Bioprocess Applications

Date/Time: 22 December 2021 / 18:40 - 19:30 pm

Zoom: Meeting ID

Passcode: gradsem

Abstract:  Multivalent interactions, i.e., the simultaneous interaction of multiple ligands and receptor molecules, are commonplace in biological processes and have become a source of inspiration for the development of biomedical tools. These multivalent systems can be rationally designed to achieve great selectivity in therapeutic, diagnostics and bioprocess applications. One such area is the design of targeted liposomal nanoparticles. In this talk, we explore how multivalent systems can be developed for selective drug delivery, and how they can be improved by addition of endosomal escape moieties. By precisely controlling the addition of functional moieties we have dissected optimizable parameters for improving nanoparticle internalization by >10-fold and improving drug toxicity in vitro by ~4-fold. Additionally, we highlight the difference in optimization parameters for targeted and non-targeted systems and challenge conventional prodrug design strategies by exploiting nanoparticle internalization as a trigger for improved selectivity. Finally, in a portion of the talk I will share about my trajectory as an international student and my experience transitioning from academic to industrial research.

Bio: Franklin Mejia obtained his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Monterrey Institute of Technology (Mexico) and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Notre Dame (Indiana, USA). During his Ph.D. he worked under Prof. Basar Bilgicer at the intersection of engineering, chemistry and biology, working in various projects with applications in cancer, allergies, bioconjugation, and antibody purification. Today’s presentation will focus on research performed for the development of selective nanoparticle-based therapeutics by engineering the targeting, endosomolytic and cytotoxic components of the drug delivery system.  Following graduation, Franklin joined Pfizer in Andover, MA (USA) where he is now a Senior Scientist in the Bioprocess R&D organization working in downstream process development for biomolecules. Outside the lab, Franklin can be found playing Ultimate Frisbee, hiking and, more recently, trying out pyrography.