Researchers have long sought to develop effective biologic drugs, such as peptides, proteins and nucleic acids, for treating motor neuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gerhrig’s disease. However, efforts to develop therapies for these diseases are complicated by the difficulty of bypassing the blood brain barrier. This selectively permeable structure protects the brain and central nervous system from harmful substances. However, this defense mechanism can also block helpful medications from targeting the nervous system.
Drew Sellers, research assistant professor of bioengineering, and Suzie Pun, the Robert F. Rushmer Professor of Bioengineering, have made progress towards addressing this long-term research challenge. They have demonstrated that a small peptide called TAxI, or Targeted Axonal Import, could, in mice, transport a recombinant protein into motor neurons following injection into muscle. The researchers’ study was published February 16 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and was also featured in UW Health Sciences’ NewsBeat.
Suzie Pun, the UW Bioengineering Robert F. Rushmer Professor of Bioengineering, was recently named a 2015 National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Fellow. She is one of 168 leaders of invention and innovation selected for this honor in 2015. Dr. Pun and other 2015 NAI Fellows will be inducted on April 15, 2016 as part of the Fifth Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, Va.
Election to NAI Fellow status is a high professional distinction given to academic inventors who demonstrate a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and societal welfare. NAI Fellows are nominated by their peers for outstanding contributions to invention in their fields. The 2015 Fellows bring the total number of NAI Fellows to 582, and account for more than 5,300 of the 20,000 U.S. patents held by all NAI Fellows.
UW Bioengineering Robert F. Rushmer Professor Suzie Pun has been selected as a 2015-16 AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador in recognition of her contributions to and innovation in the field of biomaterials and drug delivery. Dr. Pun is one of seven Ambassadors selected for 2015-16. The Ambassadors recently gathered in Washington, D.C. for a July event, “Celebrate Invention”.
The AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador Program is a joint effort of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Lemelson Foundation. The program seeks to cultivate a new and diverse generation of inventors who promote global understanding of the importance of invention and innovation.
The three-year pilot program has selected 15 Ambassadors from science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines (STEM) across academia and industry. Ambassadors act as leaders and change agents to promote invention and its crucial role in improving quality of life, promoting economic growth and empowerment, advancing education of future inventors and fostering innovation.
Dr. Pun’s research focuses on developing bioinspired materials for medical applications. Most recently, bioengineers in Dr. Pun’s research group, along with collaborators from UW Emergency Medicine and Chemical Engineering, developed an injectable polymer that helps strengthen blood clots to stop uncontrolled bleeding. The polymer could be used to quickly treat bleeding in trauma patients in emergency rooms, or in military combat environments or other low-resource settings. The researchers published their findings in the March 4, 2015 issue of Science Translational Medicine. Dr. Pun also investigates improved methods for drug delivery to the central nervous system, and detection and treatment of cancer.
The 2015 BIOE Awards for Faculty Teacher/Mentor, Graduate Student Mentor, Graduate Student TA and Staff were announced on Tuesday, May 19 during the annual Rushmer Lecture.
An unprecedented number of nominations were received this year from faculty, students and staff in the department. For this year’s awards, four recipients were named:
Faculty Teacher/Mentor: Suzie Pun
Graduate Student Mentor: Nuttada Panpradist (Lutz lab)
Graduate Student TA: Theodore (Ted) Chen
Staff: Colleen Irvin (Buddy Ratner lab)
The BIOE Award selection was based upon the strength of the nominations received, which were submitted by faculty, students and staff throughout the department. The BIOE Awards honor the outstanding contributions the awardees have made towards the department’s mission and vision and their positive impact upon the departmental community.
Awardees will receive monetary awards to use for conference travel and/or professional development.
WASHINGTON, D.C.— The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has announced the pending induction of Suzie Hwang Pun, Ph.D., Robert J. Rushmer Professor, Bioengineering, University of Washington, to its College of Fellows. Dr. Pun was nominated, reviewed, and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows For outstanding contributions to the development of new biomaterials and their use in drug and gene delivery to cells.