Led by Director Jacob Elmer, the Drug Discovery and Development Lab is focused on research in these areas:
Reprogramming T Cells to Fight Cancer via Non-Viral Gene Therapy
Recent clinical trials have demonstrated that T cells can be extracted from a patient, reprogrammed to attack leukemia cells, and then injected back into the patient to eradicate the target cells (e.g. B cells). Our research aims to increase the efficiency of this process by optimizing the delivery and expression of foreign genes in T cells using CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing.
Development of Earthworm Hemoglobin as an Ultra-Stable Blood Substitute
Donated human blood is the safest and most effective treatment for severe blood loss. However, since it is a cellular product, donated blood has to be constantly refrigerated and is consequently unavailable in remote areas and battlefields (where it is needed most). We are currently investigating earthworm hemoglobin as a highly stable, safe, and effective substitute for donated blood.
Engineering Education Research
We have designed a set of inexpensive 3D-printed Arduino-driven sensors and devices that can be used in the lab to take routine measurements or implemented as a class project to teach students about CAD software, additive manufacturing, and basic circuitry/coding.
I have also recorded a suite of videos that demonstrate common lab techniques that can be used as a primer for a lab course or to train student researchers.