Stevenson Biomaterials Lecture Series, Fall 2013

Stressing Lipid Membranes: Effects of Polymers on Membrane Structural Integrity

October 17, 2013

Ka Yee C. Lee

Director of Chicago Materials Research Center
Professor, Department of Chemistry
The University of Chicago


Meet and Greet 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, October 17th
Begins 5:15 p.m.
Hall of Languages, Room 500
Reception to follow

Poster Session

Friday, October 18th
1 to 3 p.m.
Heroy Atrium


Ka Yee C. Lee did her undergraduate work in Electrical Engineering at Brown University, and received her doctoral degree in Applied Physics from Harvard University. She did her postdoctoral training at Stanford in Chemistry, and at the University of California, Santa Barbara in Chemical Engineering. Since 1998, Dr. Lee has been a faculty member of the Department of Chemistry, the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, the James Franck Institute, and the College at the University of Chicago, and currently serves as the Director of the University’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center. Her research focuses on lipid-protein interactions, with projects aimed at elucidating the proper functioning of the lung, the targeting selectivity of antimicrobial peptides, the mechanism of membrane sealing by block copolymers, the interactions between phospholipids and cholesterol, the immunological response involving lipid targets as well as designing biomimetic self-healing and adhesive materials. A fellow of the American Physical Society, Lee is a recipient of over 20 awards for her research and her teaching, including the Searle Scholar Award, research fellowships from the Sloan Foundation and the Packard Foundation, as well as the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.


Stressing Lipid Membranes: Effects of Polymers on Membrane Structural Integrity
Ka Yee C. Lee
Department of Chemistry, Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, James Franck Institute, The University of Chicago

The cell membrane is a semi-permeable barrier, regulating the traffic of materials into and out of the cell. Membrane dysfunction due to loss of structural integrity is the pathology of tissue death in trauma, reperfusion injuries and other diseases. Certain poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO)-based biocompatible polymers have been found to be effective in sealing structurally compromised cell membranes, but the mechanism by which they interact with cell membranes remains unclear. In this talk, we will examine the mechanism by which these polymers restore the structural integrity of membranes using a suite of physical techniques. Our findings have helped identify features in the polymer architecture important for its membrane sealing capabilities and have led to the design of novel polymers that are more effective as membrane sealants.

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