The Landry Lab'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 importance of monitoring neurotransmission is relevant to our understanding of neuropsychiatric disease, in which ‘neurochemical imbalances’ are at the core of many psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders such as depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and social autism spectrum disorder. Her lab develops optical probes for neuromodulators such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Aberrant neuromodulator signaling in the brain has been implicated in various psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, whereby many drugs target neuromodulator signaling. They implement their optical probes (Beyene et al. Science Advances 2019) for neuromodulators such as dopamine to study addiction, Huntington's Disease, and Parkinson's Disease, among others.
Targeted bio-delivery: The Landry Lab also develops nanoscale particles that enable grafting and delivery of biomolecular cargoes (DNA, RNA, protein) to plants. Despite the importance of creating transgenic plants, plant systems remain difficult to genetically transform because of the unique presence of the plant cell wall, which poses the dominant barrier to exogenous biomolecule delivery. The lab develops nanoparticle-based platforms to enable delivery of gene vectors (Demirer et al. Nature Nanotechnology 2019), or RNA (Zhang et al. PNAS 2019) to agriculturally-relevant plants such as arugula, wheat, and cotton. The importance of their work lies in the fact that plant and crop genetic engineering can solidify the agricultural industry by conferring desirable traits to plants such as increased yield, abiotic stress tolerance, and disease and pest resistance. Production of transgenic plants with nanoparticle-based DNA delivery, without trasngene integration, can address the need for sustainable and high-yielding crops without the need to cross out transgenes. Specifically, their platform for delivery of Cas9 DNA vectors represents a platform by which to genetically modify plants without DNA integration (when delivering a DNA vector coding for CRISPR), or without DNA altogether (when delivering an RNP), potentially enabling gene-edited crops to circumvent the process of regulatory oversight as genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Awards and Honors
- 2019 C&EN Talented 12
- 2019 Bakar Fellow
- 2019 Prytaneal Faculty Award
- 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)