Markita Landry

Markita Landry

Title
Assistant professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Department
Dept of Chemical Engineering
Research Expertise and Interest
nanomaterials, fluorescence microscopy, sensors, imaging, neuroscience, plant engineering
Research Description

My group’s work seeks to exploit near-infrared imaging capabilities to access information deep within biological systems that has, to-date, remained inaccessible due to limitations of conventional visible microscopic imaging approaches. We combine our imaging capabilities with our generic platform for developing selective sensors for biological analytes of interest. In addition to the work proposed herein, my group’s efforts include two main thrusts: My group’s work develops synthetic bio-mimetic nanocomposites to impart control over nanomaterial interactions with biological systems for two applications: 1) to exploit the intrinsic nanomaterial infrared fluorescence for molecular imaging, and 2) to exploit the highly tunable chemical and physical properties of nanomaterials for targeted delivery of biological cargoes. Molecular Imaging: The goal of this scope is to test and extend a new view of biological imaging, in which imaging chemical signals between cells and in tissues plays a role as critical as that of the more ubiquitously pursued imaging of biological structures. My group develops chemical sensors and builds custom fluorescence microscopes to access information deep within biological systems that has, to-date, remained inaccessible due to limitations of conventional visible microscopic imaging approaches. We combine our imaging capabilities with our generic platform for developing infrared molecular sensors. Our biological analytes of interest focus on molecular targets whose primary mode of action is outside the cell, most of which cannot currently be imaged in vivo: reactive oxygen/nitrogen species, neurotransmitters, hormones, and cytokines. Targeted bio-delivery: The goal of this scope is to develop nanomaterial synthesis platforms to impart control over nanomaterial interactions with biological systems. Our synthetic bio-mimetic molecular imaging work has enabled the use of synthetic nanostructures for targeted recognition and imaging of molecular analytes. We seek to further extend the molecular specificity of our bio-mimetic nanostructures for targeted and controlled delivery of biological cargoes into living systems. By tuning synthetic parameters, we seek to: (i) deliver therapeutic and genetic cargoes into the brain via the blood-brain barrier with high zeta potential and high aspect ratio nanomaterials, (ii) deliver functionalized near-infrared emissive nanomaterials selectively into the brain via the newly-discovered brain lymphatic system, (iii) deliver plasmids and gene editing tools into the brain for peptide and nano-body therapies.

Awards and Honors

2018 Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Young Investigator Award 

2018 DARPA Young Faculty Award

2018 Sloan Foundation Fellow

2017 Kavli Fellow, National Academies of Engineering FOE

2017 FFAR New Innovator Award

2017 Stanley Fahn Junior Faculty Award

2017 Chan-Zuckerberg Biohub Young Investigator

2016 Beckman Foundation Young Investigator

2016 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award at the Scientific Interface (CASI)

2015 Brain and Behavior Foundation Young Investigator Award (NARSAD)

In the News

February 25, 2019

With nanotubes, genetic engineering in plants is easy-peasy

Inserting or tweaking genes in plants is more art than science, but with a new technique developed by University of California, Berkeley, scientists could make genetically engineering any type of plant—in particular, gene editing with CRISPR-Cas9—simple and quick.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of the campus.
March 13, 2019
Jill Kiedaisch
A new way of genetically engineering plants using nanotubes and CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology promises to make the modification of plants far easier and quicker than any strategy to date. The technique works consistently -- unlike prior strategies -- and it is accomplished by grafting a gene onto a carbon nanotube that can easily slip through the plant's cell wall, delivering the desired gene into the nucleus as well as the chloroplast. In addition to protecting the DNA from being degraded, the nanotube prevents insertion into the plant's genome, and that means the process is not considered a genetic modification, or GMO. "In agriculture, genetic enhancement of plants can be employed to create crops that are resistant to herbicides, insects, diseases, and drought," the team, led by assistant chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Markita Landry, wrote in their report. For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News. Other stories on this topic have appeared in dozens of sources, including Science and Technology Research News, Extreme Tech, Floral Daily, and Tech Times.
March 11, 2019
Joe Palca
Berkeley scientists have developed a new way of genetically engineering plants using nanotubes and CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology, and the method promises to make the modification of plants significantly easier and quicker than any strategy to date. The technique works consistently -- unlike prior strategies -- and it is accomplished by grafting a gene onto a carbon nanotube that can easily slip through the plant's cell wall, delivering the desired gene into the nucleus as well as the chloroplast. Assistant chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Markita Landry, the study's lead author, came up with the idea. Explaining the nanotubes' purpose, she says a strand of DNA is small enough to get through a plant cell wall, but it's not stiff enough. "You can kind of think of it like a floppy string," she says. "If you try to push a floppy string through a sponge, it's not really going to work, but if you take a solid needle and try to push it through a sponge, that will work much better." Link to audio. For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News.