Published February 21, 2022
Three new faculty in The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering bring expertise in computational biology across different length and time scales.
Associate Professor Rudi Gunawan is an expert in computational systems biology and bioinformatics. His research revolves around the development of methods for biological network modeling and bioinformatics and the application of these methods to drug discovery for treatment of aging and age-related diseases, and to biomanufacturing of biologics. Dr. Gunawan has raised over $3.5 million in total for his research, and he is the lead investigator for a recent $2 million National Science Foundation HDR Ideas Lab grant.
Associate Professor Ashlee N. Ford Versypt leads the Systems Biomedicine and Pharmaceutics Laboratory. Her research spans the development of multiscale mathematical and computational models, their applications in understanding mechanisms governing tissue remodeling and damage in diseases and infections, and formulating treatments for these conditions. Her research program is funded by the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Health, and she has raised over $2.6 million in total for her research. Dr. Ford Versypt is the recipient of a recent NSF CAREER award (2019) and ASEE Chemical Engineering Division Ray W. Fahien Award (2020). She is an Academic Trustee of Computer Aids for Chemical Engineering (CACHE) and an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Faculty Fellow at UB.
Assistant Professor Viviana Monje-Galvan is an expert in computational biophysics and molecular biology. Her research focuses on the role of lipids in biological processes at the cellular membrane interface. She works with experimental collaborators to validate computational predictions and provide molecular level insights into macroscopic observations. In her postdoctoral work at the University of Chicago, she studied key protein-lipid interactions during early stages of HIV-1 viral assembly and SARS-CoV2 structural proteins.
Beyond research, Viviana is actively engaged with initiatives to promote engineering among minority students, such as EngineerGirl of the National Academy of Engineering, and the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Undergraduate Program at UB.
The combined research expertise of these new faculty boosts the department’s research capabilities in the bioengineering and biophysics area, including the laboratories of Professor Stelios Andreadis and Assistant Professor Natesh Parashurama on stem cell engineering, Professor Sriram Neelamegham on glycobiology, Associate Professor Sheldon Park on protein engineering, and Professor Blaine Pfeifer on metabolic engineering. Further, their research aligns very well with the new Center for Cell, Gene, and Tissue Engineering (CTGE) led by Professor Andreadis. Across the school and university, these faculty strengthen research activities in drug discovery and pharmaceutics. New and exciting collaborative projects have formed between the Gunawan and Andreadis labs on senescent stem cell rejuvenation, the Gunawan and Neelamegham labs on glycoinformatics, the Gunawan, Ford Versypt and Pinaki Sarder (Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences) labs on bioinformatics analysis and mathematical modeling of nephropathy, and the labs of Monje-Galvan and G. Ekin Atilla-Gokcumen (Chemistry) on molecular mechanisms of cell death. Many more collaborations are expected.