School of Engineering
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James H. Clark Professor in the School of Engineering and Professor of Chemical Engineering and of Bioengineering
BioUsing and Understanding Cell-Free Biology
Swartz Lab General Research Focus:
The current and projected research in the Swartz lab balances basic research in microbial metabolism, protein expression, and protein folding with a strong emphasis on compelling applications. The power and versatility of cell-free methods coupled with careful evaluation and engineering of these new systems enables a whole new range of applications and scientific investigation. Fundamental research on: the mechanisms and kinetics of ribosomal function, fundamental bioenergetics, basic mechanisms of protein folding, functional genomics, and metabolic pathway analysis is motivated by a variety of near- and medium term applications spanning medicine, energy, and environmental needs.
Swartz Lab Application Focus:
In the medical area , current research addresses the need for patient-specific vaccines to treat cancer. Particularly for lymphomas, there is a strong need to be able to make a new cancer vaccine for each patient. Current technologies are not practical for this demanding task, but cell-free approaches are rapid and inexpensive. We have already demonstrated feasibility in mouse tumor challenge studies and are now expanding the range of applications and working to improve the relevant technologies. Experience with these vaccines has also suggested a new and exciting format for making inexpensive and very potent vaccines for general use.
To address pressing needs for a new and cleaner energy source, we are working towards an organism that can efficiently capture solar energy and convert it into hydrogen. The first task is to develop an oxygen tolerant hydrogenase using cell-free technology to express libraries of mutated enzymes that can be rapidly screened for improved function. Even though these are very complex enzymes, we have produced active hydrogenases with our cell-free methods. We are now perfecting the screening methods for rapid and accurate identification of improved enzymes. After these new enzymes are identified, the project will progress toward metabolic engineering and bioreactor design research to achieve the scales and economies required.
To address environmental needs, we are developing an improved water filters using an amazing membrane protein, Aquaporin Z. It has the ability to reject all other chemicals and ions except water. We have efficiently expressed the protein into lipid bilayer vesicles and are now working to cast these membranes on porous supports to complete the development of a new and powerful water purification technology. The same lessons will be applied toward the development of a new class of biosensors that brings high sensitivity and selectivity.
Joseph D. Towles
BioJoseph Towles is a Lecturer jointly appointed in the Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering Departments at Stanford University. Joe’s teaching interests are in the areas of solid mechanics, neuromuscular biomechanics, dynamical systems and control, and engineering design. His scholarship interest is in the area of engineering education. Specifically, Joe's engineering education activities include student-centric course and curricular development; assessment of student learning & engagement; and innovation in approaches to enhance student learning.
A Mechanical Engineer by training, Joe earned his BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and his MS and PhD degrees both in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University (1996-2003). Following graduate school, Joe was a research post-doctoral fellow and subsequently a research scientist and then a research assistant professor in neuromuscular biomechanics in the Sensory Motor Performance Program at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department at Northwestern University (2003-2012). Additionally, Joe was a research health scientist for the Rehabilitation R&D Service in the Department of Veterans Affairs (Hines, IL) during that time and later a scientist in the neuromuscular biomechanics lab in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2012-2014). At the time, Joe led projects that addressed the broad question of how to restore hand function (ability to grasp objects) following cervical spinal cord injury and hemiparetic stroke using experimental and computational techniques in biomechanics. As a complement to teaching within the undergraduate and graduate curricula in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2014-2018), and now teaching broadly within the undergraduate curricula of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering at Stanford, Joe's current scholarship interest has shifted to engineering education.
Ross Daniel Venook
BioRoss is a Lecturer in the Bioengineering department and he directs Engineering at the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign.
Ross co-leads two undergraduate courses at Stanford—an instrumentation lab (BIOE123) and an open-ended capstone design lab sequence (BIOE141A/B)—and he supports other courses and runs hands-on workshops in the areas of prototyping and systems engineering related to medical device innovation. He enjoys the unique challenges and constraints offered by biomedical engineering projects, and he delights in the opportunity for collaborative learning in a problem-solving environment.
An Electrical Engineer by training (Stanford BS, MS, PhD), Ross’ graduate work focused on building and applying new types of MRI hardware for interventional and device-related uses. Following a Biodesign Innovation fellowship, Ross helped to start the MRI safety program at Boston Scientific Neuromodulation, where he continues working across the MRI safety community to create and improve international standards and to enable safe MRI access for patients with implanted medical devices.
Assistant Professor of Bioengineering and, by courtesy, of Developmental Biology
BioWe are a discovery-driven research group working at the interface between statistical physics, developmental biology, and bioengineering. We combine quantitative organism-wide fluorescence imaging ("deep imaging"), functional genomics ("deep sequencing"), and statistical modeling to study systems biology and evolutionary cell biology of flatworms, including free living planarians and parasitic flukes. Using these animals, we seek to understand quantitatively the fundamental rules that control stem cell collective behavior to optimize tissue regeneration, remolding, and adaptation.
Paul J. Wang, MD
Professor of Medicine (Cardiovascular Medicine) at the Stanford University Medical Center and, by courtesy, of Bioengineering
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsDr. Wang's research centers on the development of innovative approaches to the treatment of arrhythmias, including more effective catheter ablation techniques, more reliable implantable devices, and less invasive treatments. Dr. Wang's clinical research interests include atrial fibrillation, ventricular tachycardia, syncope, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Dr. Wang has active collaborations with Bioengineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical Engineering Departments at Stanford.
Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and of Bioengineering
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsOur research seeks to understand how microenvironmental cues regulate stem cell fate, and to develop novel biomaterials and stem cell-based therapeutics for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Our work spans from fundamental science, technology development, to translational research.We are particularly interested in developing better therapies for treating musculoskeletal diseases, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Yunzhi Peter Yang
Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and, by courtesy, of Materials Science and Engineering and of Bioengineering
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsYang lab's research interests are in the areas of bio-inspired biomaterials, medical devices, and 3D printing approaches for re-creating a suitable microenvironment for cell growth and tissue regeneration for musculoskeletal disease diagnosis and treatment, including multiple tissue healing such as rotator cuff injury, orthopedic diseases such as osteoporosis and osteonecrosis, and orthopedic traumas such as massive bone and muscle injuries.