Biologically Programmed Living Materials for Advanced Sustainable Applications
Over the last few decades, living cells have been employed as factories to make organic molecules, polymers, drugs and fuels. Lately, living cells are being engineered to make materials and/or to modulate its properties, giving rise to an exciting field of Living Materials. Built on the able foundations of synthetic biology, materials engineering and nanotechnology, Living Materials provides an unprecedented platform to build a sustainable environment.
In this talk, I will present some of my recent works, which demonstrates the very first biomedical and environmental applications of Living Materials. I have developed the world’s first microbial ink for 3D printing of living materials. This unique microbial ink is produced from engineered bacteria and can also be embedded with desired microbes to enable printing of complex 3D architectures having various functions. Further, in an effort to mitigate the menace of plastic pollution, I have engineered bacteria to develop AquaPlastic, world’s first water-processable and biodegradable bioplastic. AquaPlastic is aqua-healable, aqua-weldable, aqua-moldable, imprintable, coatable and also resistant to chemicals. Finally, I will also present how Living Materials can be employed to generate sustainable materials for biomedical applications. By harnessing synthetic biology, I have designed and developed mucoadhesive and anti-inflammatory hydrogels that can be sprayed directly in the gut serving as an innovative wound healing strategy for the gut lumen.
I will conclude by presenting my vision on Living Materials for Advanced Sustainable Applications that effectively utilizes the living characteristics such as programmability, intelligence, specificity, responsiveness and manufacturability.
Bio: Anna Duraj-Thatte received her Ph.D. from Georgia Institute of Technology, wherein she worked on protein engineering and directed evolution. Then she pursued her postdoctoral research at Wyss Institute, Harvard University. During which, her research focused on developing engineered living materials for various applications, including the first demonstration of therapeutic and self-regenerating functionalities of living materials. Her research interests also include protein-based materials for environmental applications and actively working towards commercialization of her research innovations. She was the Grand Prize Winner of American National Science Foundation (NSF) Idea Machine competition. She was also selected as a Deep Tech Pioneer and member of Harvard Innovation Lab’s Venture Incubation Program.