Seminar Series – Elizabeth Nance, Ph.D.

Elizabeth Nance, Ph.D.

Date(s) - 11/29/2022
9:15 am - 10:15 am

New Engineering Building - Room 100


Elizabeth Nance, Ph.D.
Jagjeet and Janice Bindra Endowed Career Development Associate Professor
Chemical Engineering
University of Washington

Title: Integrating data sciences into nanomedicine and neuroscience-focused research

Abstract: The brain is our most complex organ and governs all physiological function, from cognition to movement and stress response. Much of the brain’s function is determined by interactions of cells within the brain parenchyma, the functional unit critical for supporting and protecting cells. Investigating this relationship is challenging: organization of the extracellular matrix and properties of the brain parenchyma vary throughout development and across different brain regions, motivating the need for platforms that provide access to multiple brain regions at different stages of development. In vivo imaging modalities are limited in spatial and temporal resolution and do not reach deep brain regions. Many models are also not easily tunable to account for factors such as age and sex in addition to modality of injury or etiology of disease.

To address these challenges, we have developed an experimental and data science framework to investigate cellular and microstructural changes using a combination of in vivo and organotypic whole hemisphere slice models. In this talk, we will focus on two applications of our framework: (1) the integration of data science and machine learning to predict nanoparticle interactions and biological features of the brain, and (2) the application of a non-destructive, data science pipeline that captures cellular morphological heterogeneity to predict therapeutic outcome. We will show our application of multiple particle tracking to probe and predict nanoparticle behavior or biological function in the brain parenchyma. We will next show our imaging analysis approach to quantify cell morphology at the individual and population level. Our methods are intentionally designed to be disease model and species agnostic. Our longer-term efforts aim to move us closer to predicting whether the responses to injury, disease, or treatment that we see in the brain microenvironment reflect compensatory, reparative, or pathological processes, which can inform our understanding of disease onset, progression, and treatment intervention.

Bio: Dr. Elizabeth Nance joined the University of Washington in September 2015, and is currently the Jagjeet and Janice Bindra Career Development Endowed Associate Professor in Chemical Engineering, Associate Professor of Bioengineering, and adjunct professor in Radiology and the eScience Institute. She also serves as the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies in Chemical Engineering. Elizabeth received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from NC State University, and her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering with Dr. Justin Hanes, with a focus on developing nanomedicine for treating brain cancer. She then completed a postdoc with Dr. Sujatha Kannan in Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, with a research emphasis in neuroscience, neonatal brain disease, and animal model development. Elizabeth is an active collaborator in the neuroscience, neurology, and pediatric fields and an advocate for engineers to bring their expertise to technology development for neonatal and pediatric populations. She serves as the interim Editor in Chief for Bioengineering & Translational Medicine. She is a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Achievement in Science & Engineering (PECASE) award, the UW Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, given to 4 faculty across the three UW campuses, an NIGMS R35 MIRA award and the Burroughs Wellcome Career Award. Her lab is grateful for additional funding support from NSF, NICHD, DoD, Microsoft Azure, and the Seattle Medical Foundation.