Current Research Topics

Polymer-Based Protein Engineering

The Russell Group works closely with the Center for Polymer-Based Protein Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University with both independent projects and interdisciplinary collaborations. Our primary goal is to advance the science of biopolymer hybrids for tailoring the activity and stability of proteins and enzymes. Using atom-transfer radical polymerization, we are working to develop protein-polymer conjugates with predictably tuned activity under diverse operational conditions. The great diversity of both polymer and protein structure and functionality are used to produce protein-polymer conjugates with the capability to impact a broad spectrum of applications including bio-therapeutics proteomic analysis, bioenergy, protein structural analysis, molecular detection, cancer therapy, and industrial catalysis.

Enzymatic Biosensors and Biofuel Cells

We are working to develop an increased understanding of enzymatic biosensors and biofuel cells through a combination of enzyme modification and materials science approaches. Biofuel cells have the potential for continuous powering of implantable devices, while biosensors can be used to sensitively and selectively detect target substances in physiological or industrial applications. We are using carbon nanotube-based materials and polymer-based protein engineering methodologies to modify the activity, stability and electron transfer efficiency of electroactive enzymes. Development of these enzyme-polymer conjugates and enzyme-modified surfaces with tailorable characteristics has the capability to help promote enzyme-based bioelectronics with enhanced performances.

Membrane Engineering of Red Blood Cells

We are combining polymer based protein engineering with polymer modification of cell surfaces to convert red blood cells into therapeutic delivery vehicles.  We have developed a platform technology that can either target drug loaded red blood cells to specific sites or convert them into specific toxin or bimolecular scavengers. We have also initiated a project to develop a series of protein-cored nanoparticulate antimicrobials that can be carried on erythrocyte surfaces as a treatment for sepsis. In addition, we are continuing projects engineering MSCs to target them to injury sites and leucocytes to modulate inflammatory processes

Discovery at the rich interface of chemistry, biology, and material science to incorporate
biological molecules and polymers for the creation of multifunctional materials.