The 25th Annual UB CBE Graduate Research Symposium was held on Friday, November 4 in UB's Center for the Arts. After lectures from two PhD candidate students and our keynote lecturer alumna Maria Koutsona, the department hosted a poster contest, where over 70 posters were presented. The afternoon also featured a wine, beer, and hors d'oeuvres reception.
PhD candidates Yaoli Zhao (Thomas Thundat group), spoke on "Detecting Molecular Heartbeats" and Debanik Choudhury (Stelios Andreadis group), spoke on "Inhibition of Glutaminolysis Restores Mitochondrial Function in Senescent Stem Cells".
Keynote Speaker Maria Koutsona, PhD 2022, gave a talk on "How to Successfully Start Your Professional Life", with lots of Q & A.
Videos of all three lectures can be found on CBE's YouTube page
My Career with ExxonMobil and Tips for a Successful Start of Your Professional Life.
Dr. Maria Koutsona serves as a technology Valuation Senior Advisor at ExxonMobil. She graduated from Aristole University in 1998 with MEng in Chemical Engineering and went to receive PhD in Chemical Engineering from University at Buffalo in 2002. After completing her degree, she began her Career at ExxonMobil where she started as a Real Time Optimization Engineer. Over the last 20 years, she has continued to further her career in various roles within the company and served as a Technology Valuation Senior Advisor for last two years.
Dr. Koutsona: In this talk, I would like to give you an overview of the jobs I have had so far, and some tips on how you can start and develop your career. I hope I will be able to provide you with enough knowledge on this topic, so that you will know all the opportunities and risks involved in this enriching journey.
Detecting Molecular Heartbeats
Imagine a world where we could stand in front of a mirror, something similar to the mirror of ERISED in Harry Potter movies, that could tell us about our health based on volatile organic compounds emitted by the body. In such a world, variations could be detected on a fine scale. At present molecular identification is carried out using immobilized labels or receptors that selectively bind to targeted molecules. However, such approaches suffer from poor selectivity and sensitivity due to he presence of interfering molecules. we have been developing chemical and biological sensors that can detect exceeding small quantities of molecules without labels/receptors from a distance. This technique is based on a variation of photothermal / photoacoustic spectroscopy. Resonant excitation of surfaces (or surface absorbates) with tunable infrared radiation sensitivity imbeds molecular fingerprints in the radiation scattered by the sample. A microfabricated bimaterial cantilever, with an uncooled thermal s around 10mK, can serve as a broadband detector for molecular fingerprints imbedded in the scattered. This technique has the potential for applications ranging from disease detection to rapid sorting of plastics for recycling . I will present the point and standoff detection of chemicals using this exciting technique.
Inhibition of Glutaminolysis Restores Mitochondrial Function in Senescent Stem Cells
Mitochondrial dysfunction, one of the major aging hallmarks, has been associated with the onset of aging phenotypes and age related diseases including Alzheimer's muscular dystrophy, and diabetes. In this study, we report that impaired mitochondrial function is associated with increased glutamine catabolism in senescent/aged human mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and myofibroblasts derived from patients, suffering from Hutchison - Gilford progeria syndrome. Overactivated glutaminolysis via increased glutaminse (GLSI) activity, accompanied by loss of urea transporter, SLC14A1 includes urea accumulation, further impairing mitochondrial respiratory function and causing DNA damage. In agreement with our in-vitro findings, tissues isolated from aged and progeria mice (an accelerated aging mice model), display increased urea accumulation and GLS1 expression and glutaminolysis were regulated through the JNK pathway that is activated in senescent cells. Blocking JNK or GLS1 activity decreases urea accumulation, mitochondrial dysfunction, and DNA damage in senescent MSCs. Furthermore, we examined the effects of CB839 (GLS1 inhibitor) on progeria mice and observe decreased age-associated ROS and urea accumulation in the heart, skin and muscle, resulting in improved mitochondrail function. Hence, inhibition of GLS1 activity rejuvinates mitochondraial function and leads to amelioration of aging hallmarks. In conclusion, our data provide novel insight into the mechanism, underlying metabolic reprogramming associated with cellular aging. Targeting glutamine metabolism and associated metabolites and byproducts may be a promising strategy to delay or reverse senescence.
The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering congratulates all our 2022 poster contest winners:
Vinh Bui - "Tunable organosilica membranes for high-temperature H2/CO2 separation synthesized by rapid oxygen plasma treatment of polysiloxane" under advisor Haiqing Lin.
Ronel Samuel - "IPSC as a potential autologous source for Salivary Gland Regeneration" under advisor Stelios Andreadis.
Lili Rassouli - "Structure and Dynamics of Exciton in Hematite Fe2O3 Semiconductor " under advisor Michel Dupuis.
Students' Choice Awards
Dara Cho - "Partial Reprogramming towards Germ Layer" under advisor Natesh Parashurama.
Eduardo Ruiz - "Mathematical Modeling of Drug Release from Bi-Layered Polymer Capsules in the Eye" under advisor Ashlee Ford-Versypt.
Bingzhang Zhang - "Integrating Highly Durable Carbon Support and Intermetallic PtCo Catalysts for Heavy-Duty MEAs " under advisor Gang Wu.