UW News

October 10, 2022

Engineering lecture series focuses on health care for the brain

A banner image with a drawing of a brain in the background. On the foreground is text that says "Engineering Health Care for the Brain, from Infancy to Late Adulthood"

Injury or disease in our most complex organ — the human brain — can be hard to detect and even harder to treat. Advancing technologies for brain health requires interdisciplinary collaboration from clinicians and engineers in fields that range from data science to medicine.

This fall the University of Washington’s annual Engineering Lecture Series will feature research with potential to transform brain therapeutics from infancy to late adulthood. Two UW engineers will speak about their work — on detecting and treating Alzheimer’s disease as well as on developing therapies for children’s brains. These lectures are free and open to the public, and this year they will be both in person and livestreamed. Registration is required.

From discovery to design: Toward early detection and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

A person standing in front of the Seattle skyline

Valerie Daggett

The series kicks off Oct. 13, at 7:30 p.m. in Kane Hall 130 with Valerie Daggett, a professor of bioengineering. Daggett has been studying misfolded proteins that lead diseases such as Alzheimer’s, as well as Parkinson’s and others, since the 1990s. More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease — a number projected to rise to 14 million by 2050 — and currently, there is no cure. Daggett’s research uses computational and experimental methods to design diagnostic and therapeutic agents to target these diseases. This work has been spun out to form a company with a promising platform for early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s. Hear from Daggett about the technology and collaborations driving this research.

Updated 10/28/22 – video

Engineering therapies for the pediatric brain

A headshot of Elizabeth Nance

Elizabeth Nance

On Oct. 26, at 7:30 p.m. in Kane Hall 130, Elizabeth Nance, an associate professor of chemical engineering and of bioengineering, will talk about developing therapeutics for newborn and pediatric brain disease, with the goal of improving neurological function and quality of life. Children make up 27% of the world’s population, but most therapeutics for brain disease are tested on adults. Pediatric clinical trials often follow years later. This has led to a significant gap in medical technology for infants and children. Nance’s research focuses on understanding the brain’s response to injury or disease and developing nanotherapeutic platforms to treat brain disease using nanotechnology, neurobiology and data science tools.

Updated 10/28/22 – video

Two people look at a slide on a microscope

Elizabeth Nance (background), and Hugo Pontes (foreground), who worked with Nance as a UW undergraduate student studying chemical engineering, examine thin sections of brain tissue under a microscope. Nance and Pontes were looking at how specific cells responded to a drug nanoparticle treatment to see if the treatment could reduce injury to the brain.Bryan Nakata