Biology, Chemical Engineering
Dysregulated immune system activation is at the root of several diseases: overactivation can lead to autoimmunity and underactivation can lead to immunodeficiency, compromise resistance to infections and allow for the development of malignancy. Our group works at the interface of engineering and immunobiology to develop innovative technologies for achieving the precise level of immune activation to treat diseases and improve human health. Most of our understanding of immune system interactions in diseases is still limited by the lack of proper tools and techniques. We develop ‘ImmunoEngineering’ platforms to understand and quantitatively study the interactions between different components of the immune system in health and disease. To perturb these interactions at a spatial and temporal scale, and efficiently modulate the immune response, we engineer biologically-inspired ‘ImmunoTherapeutics’ by utilizing high throughput computational platform technology. Real-time monitoring of immunotherapy efficacy is an unmet need in clinics. We are developing ‘ImmunoTheranostic’ (therapeutic + diagnostic) platform technology that can enable spatiotemporal delivery of an immunotherapy drug and drug function-activatable imaging agent. This technology can not only allow direct and real-time visualization of immunotherapy effect thereby studying heterogeneity in immunotherapy response but can also be utilized to probe interesting biological questions by real-time monitoring of cellular level immune responses. By bridging individual strengths of diverse disciplines including nanotechnology, organic synthesis, computational chemistry, molecular imaging, mathematical modeling and immunology, we are developing tools and platform technologies to address fundamental and translational questions in human diseases, with a goal of developing paradigm shifting immunotherapy strategies.