Research

Our vision for 21st century science emerges from complementary strengths in drug discovery and development, preclinical imaging, proteomics, cell free synthesis, physiochemical analysis, and nanoscale imaging.

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Education

We educate, train, and inspire the next generation of transdisciplinary scientists to venture farther into the realm of unrealized research possibilities.

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Translation

We lower the barriers to discovery, and as a result, accelerate breakthroughs to solve the complexities of biology, and apply this new knowledge to improve the quality of life.

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Research

Our vision for 21st century science emerges from complementary strengths in drug discovery and development, preclinical imaging, proteomics, cell free synthesis, physiochemical analysis, and nanoscale imaging. The next waves of technology for early detection and treatment of a broad array of diseases will arise from this multi-pronged attack.

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Transforming Science. Transforming Life.

Chemistry of Life Processes Institute (CLP) researchers use the technologies of tomorrow to discover the diagnostic methods and therapies needed to save lives today. Chemists, engineers, and physicists team with life scientists and clinicians to change how we diagnose and treat cancer, cardiovascular and kidney disease, infectious diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and trauma. Their efforts are built on extraordinary tools for discovery, analysis, and visualization developed and housed within a unique ecosystem designed to support the integration of expertise and methods across many scientific disciplines. This transdisciplinary convergence of knowledge is creating new fields of research that will have a long-lasting impact on human health and disease.

Transforming Science. Transforming Life.

Chemistry of Life Processes Institute (CLP) researchers use the technologies of tomorrow to discover the diagnostic methods and therapies needed to save lives today. Chemists, engineers, and physicists team with life scientists and clinicians to change how we diagnose and treat cancer, cardiovascular and kidney disease, infectious diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and trauma. Their efforts are built on extraordinary tools for discovery, analysis, and visualization developed and housed within a unique ecosystem designed to support the integration of expertise and methods across many scientific disciplines. This transdisciplinary convergence of knowledge is creating new fields of research that will have a long-lasting impact on human health and disease.

Our Impact

Erik Andersen receives award to study the evolution of behavior

Erik C. Andersen, a molecular geneticist at Northwestern University, has received a Human Frontier Science Program grant to study the evolution of behavior.

Andersen will lead an international team to study the repeatability of the genetic mechanisms underlying behavioral evolution. He will receive $350,000 per year for three years from the Human Frontier Science Program Organization to support these efforts.

“This support gives us a rare opportunity to study how evolution works, especially on behaviors,” said Andersen, an assistant professor of molecular biosciences in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

Andersen’s team will focus on the conundrum of why many completely different species seem to exhibit similar behaviors. Some related examples from nature include how different species of Hawaiian spiders that spin similar web architectures or diverse anoles lizard species that bob their heads with the same styles and speeds.

The researchers will study three species of the nematode genus Caenorhabditis. The transparent roundworms offers a unique experimental platform to connect behavioral differences to genetic differences. The team will use genotype data and imaging of behaviors to create a map to identify shared gene variants that are most important evolutionarily.

“Our results will provide the first systematic glimpse into the genomic ‘knobs’ that control behaviors at the single-variant level across species,” Andersen said. “We also will gain insights into the repeatability of the evolution of behaviors.”

Andersen’s collaborators on the project are Andre Brown of Imperial College London and Kathryn Hodgins of Monash University in Australia.

By Megan Fellman

The original story was published by Northwestern Now on April 11, 2019.

 

Andersen is a member of the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute.

 

Cross-Disciplinary Research Shines At CLP Institute’s ‘Biotech Summit’

“Renewed hope for millions.” That was the promise on display when a team of world-renowned Northwestern faculty presented their pathbreaking research as part of the inaugural Oppenheimer Biotech Summit by the Lake.

Joined by partners and presenters from Oppenheimer & Co., AbbVie, Genentech, and other industry leaders, the daylong summit — held March 27 at the Kellogg Global Hub — offered a glimpse into new strategies to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, ALS, infertility, and other hard-to-treat diseases.

“The Summit afforded the Chemistry of Life Sciences Institute and Northwestern University the opportunity to highlight for investors some of our most innovative research programs that are pushing the barriers of science,” said Thomas O’Halloran, director of the Chemistry of Life Processes (CLP) Institute. “At the same time, we introduced investors to cutting-edge biotechnology companies with Northwestern affiliations.”

Cohosted by the CLP Institute and Oppenheimer, summit programming included presentations from institute faculty innovators and Northwestern alumni who lead major public companies. Members of Oppenheimer & Co. moderated a lunchtime panel discussion.

“The basic and translational research at Northwestern and at CLP specifically has been nothing short of groundbreaking across so many fields,” said Sujal Shah, a CLP board member and president and CEO of clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company CymaBay.

“Our goal was to bring potential investors and potential collaborators from industry together with faculty and researchers at the institute. The summit was a great first step and we owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to Oppenheimer for sponsoring and running the event.”

The Chemistry of Life Processes Institute launched in 2005 as a catalyst for transdisciplinary biomedical research and drug discovery and development at Northwestern. The institute, housed in Silverman Hall on the Evanston campus, is composed of more than 60 investigators across multiple disciplines and includes more than 70 research faculty, administrative staff, technical staff, and research associates. CLP’s eight affiliated core facilities serve more than 500 faculty research programs across the University. The institute has contributed to launching successful therapeutics such as Lyrica™ — the most financially successful drug ever to have come from a US academic institution — and has advanced 75 new drug candidates and incubated 26 companies, which have attracted more than $1.5 billion in external funding.

Lyrica™ creator Richard Silverman, the Patrick G. Ryan/Aon Professor, and many other presenters at the Biotech Summit by the Lake are featured in a new CLP video highlighting the institute’s charge to accelerate the time required for new treatments to go from the lab and into the clinic. “Programs such as this summit really help solidify CLP’s reputation as a biotech incubator and ensure continued financial support from the investment community to drive future discovery and translational innovation at Northwestern,” said O’Halloran.

About Chemistry of Life Processes Institute

Chemistry of Life Processes Institute is where new cures and better diagnostics for life-threatening diseases begin at Northwestern. Drawn by the Institute’s extraordinary expertise and facilities for innovation and translation, researchers from across Northwestern converge to develop fresh insights and approaches for treating and diagnosing complex diseases such as cancer, epilepsy, heart disease, and Parkinson’s. CLP researchers accelerate the delivery of revolutionary science that improves lives and transforms human health.

About Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.

For more than 130 years, Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. has provided its clients with the financial expertise and insight to help achieve their goals. Oppenheimer has a proud tradition of providing innovative, customized solutions to its clients. Its partners believe in independent thinking that leads to innovative strategies tailored to client needs. Oppenheimer is proud of its reputation as a firm that helps individuals, families, corporate executives, foundations and endowments, charities, pension plans, businesses, and institutions. Biotech Summit by the Lake faculty presentations:

  • Vadim Backman, Walter Dill Scott Professor of Biomedical Engineering “Developing Novel Strategies for Chromatin Regulation to Fight Resistance in Cancer Chemotherapy”
  • Susan E. Quaggin, Charles H. Mayo, M.D., Professor of Medicine “A High ‘TEK’ Solution for Vascular Diseases”
  • Evan Scott, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering “A Scalable Platform for Enhanced Delivery and Efficacy of Diverse Therapeutic and Diagnostic Agents”
  • Richard B. Silverman, Patrick G. Ryan/Aon Professor and inventor of Lyrica™ “Hepatocellular Carcinoma and ALS: Serious Unmet Medical Diseases Being Addressed in the Silverman Group”
  • Douglas Vaughan, Irving S. Cutter Professor of Medicine “Targeting PAI-1: A Novel Approach to Delay the Multi-morbidity of Aging”
  • Teresa Woodruff, Thomas J. Watkins Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology “Oncofertility: From Bench to Bedside to Babies”

Corporate presenters and panelists:

  • Brian Bernick, Co-Founder and Director, TherapeuticsMD
  • Andrew Chan, SVP, Research Biology, Genentech
  • Margarita Chavez, Managing Director, AbbVie Ventures
  • Ankit Mahadevia, President and CEO, Spero Therapeutics
  • Michael Margolis, Managing Director, Oppenheimer & Co.
  • Chandler Robinson, Co-Founder and CEO, Monopar Therapeutics
  • Sujal Shah, President and CEO, CymaBay
  • Jim Sullivan, Venture Partner,  OrbiMed
  • S. Edward Torres, Founder and Managing Director, Lilly Ventures
  • Silvan Tuerkcan, Director, Oppenheimer & Co.

by Roger Anderson

The original story was published on April 9, 2019 by Northwestern Research News.

Point-of-use Diagnostics Show Potential in Detecting Plant Disease and Beyond

Current methods for detecting crops with disease require expensive lab equipment located far from the field, but point-of-use diagnostics technology being developed by Northwestern Engineering will be able to help farmers test their crops for disease using nothing but their own body heat to activate the portable technology, called PLANT-Dx.

Julius Lucks

Julius Lucks

The aim of PLANT-Dx is to help low-income farmers around the world access a low-cost field test to improve methods for detecting viruses and bacteria in their crops.

“These farmers don’t really have an avenue to do crop testing,” said Julius Lucks, associate professor and associate chair of chemical and biological engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering. “They don’t have access to laboratory testing, or if they do, it’s too expensive.”

Members of The Lucks Lab published their first steps toward proof of concept for this technology in ACS Synthetic Biology. The research is supported by a $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that encourages research that can break the mold for solving persistent global health and development challenges.

All a farmer needs to do is take a sample of ground-up plant material and place it in a PLANT-Dx test tube that utilizes molecular sensors to produce a visible color if the plant is infected with a virus. Using body heat or ambient heat, the test tube will change colors within a few hours if bacteria or a virus is present.

“If your plant has a disease, then you see this yellow color. Knowing this, farmers can communicate the issue to their neighbors or a local pest management network,” said Lucks, a member of Northwestern’s Center for Synthetic Biology.

The next steps for PLANT-Dx, led by graduate student Matthew Verosloff and with researchers at Cornell University, involve further field testing and adjusting the technology to detect multiple viruses, producing different colors in the test tubes. Lucks and his researchers are also looking at ways to connect the technology to an electronic data collection infrastructure, as well as speeding up the technology.

“One of the philosophies of this research, which is fun especially here at McCormick, is this whole-brain engineering concept where we’re constantly trying to get out of the lab and in the field to talk to people about what they want and what would solve their problems — and then deliver that technology,” he added.

Going forward, the Lucks Lab is using PLANT-Dx as a launching pad to create synthetic biology solutions for point-of-use diagnostics technology for a variety of issues beyond crop surveillance, including water quality.

“We’re really trying to enable individuals to sense their environment and make decisions to help them be healthier,” Lucks said.

by ALEXANDRIA JACOBSON

Original story published on March 11, 2019 by Northwestern Engineering.

 

Julius Lucks is a member of the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute.

April 24th

Electrophysiology, Unplugged: Chemical Tools to Image Cell Physiology

Evan Miller, PhD
Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Molecular and Cell Biology
University of California, Berkeley

Sponsored by CLP

Learn More …

May 6th

David Baker
University of Washington

Sponsored by CLP

September 12th

Tianning Diao, PhD
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
New York University

Co-sponsored by CMIDD & Department of Chemistry

Learn More

The Institute manages eight shared research facilities. These facilities represent a $25M investment in high‐end instrumentation and expertise and provide 50 new services that enable investigators to identify, design and refine potential new therapeutics and diagnostics and to visualize their activity in living cells and tissues. The cores’ PhD level personnel develop powerful new tools and methods to support new basic and translational research at Northwestern and across the Midwest.

Center for Advanced Molecular Imaging

Imaging resources span length scales of molecules to whole animals. Instruments include MRI, IVIS Spectrum, SPECT, and PET.

ChemCore

Medicinal and synthetic chemistry, molecular modeling and compound purification services.

Biological Imaging Facility

Photonic and electron instruments, allowing researchers to capture high-quality images and videos of their specimens.

Developmental Therapeutics Core

Operational laboratory that supports translational projects and exploratory drug development work.

High Throughput Analysis Laboratory

Instrumentation and expertise for the development and execution of high throughput biological analysis and screening.

Proteomics Core

Instrumentation and expertise to analyze proteins using mass spectrometry. Specializing in intact protein analysis.

Quantitative Bio-element Imaging Center

Quantitation and localization of bioelements using ICP mass spec, customized Hitachi HD2300 STEM for cryo-bio EM, and atomic absorption mass spectometry.

Recombinant Protein Production Core

Expression and purification of recombinant or synthetic biologics and cultivation of microbial, insect, and mammalian cells.