Bioengineering Seminar Series

K. Dane Wittrup, Ph.D.
C.P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering and Biological Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

In the Wittrup lab, we are interested in developing design principles for effective cancer biopharmaceuticals. We are particularly interested in cancer immunotherapy, the process of provoking a therapeutic immune response against tumors. Most of our projects include the following elements:

  • Simple mass action models of drug distribution and action at whole-organism, tissue, and subcellular resolution. Disciplined mathematical formulation of a hypothesized mechanism of action is a critical component of the design cycle.
  • Synthesis of novel molecular entities by protein engineering. A core tool for the lab is yeast surface display, which enables directed evolution of binding affinity & specificity, expression, and stability. Multispecific topologies are often employed to bring a variety of functions to bear in the therapeutic strategy.
  • Testing in predictive mouse tumor models. The expression in vivo veritas reflects our perspective that only in an animal with an intact immune system can one obtain immunotherapeutic insights with some chance of translating to clinical practice.
  • Closing the loop. It is of course often the case that our animal experiments fail to be consistent with the original therapeutic hypothesis. This provides a critical learning opportunity as we then initiate another round trip through the design cycle.

The Bioengineering Seminar Series is co-hosted by the Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience and the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, and they are open to all in the bio-community.