We are pleased to welcome
Professor Nancy Allbritton
2022-23 Distinguished Lecturer
Professor Nancy Allbritton
Professor of Bioengineering and Frank & Julie Jungers Dean, College of Engineering, University of Washington
“Building A Living Human Intestine on the Microscale“
Organ-on-chips are miniaturized devices that arrange living cells to simulate functional subunits of tissues and organs. These microdevices provide exquisite control of tissue microenvironment for the investigation of organ-level physiology and disease. Planar models enable high throughput screening with primary human intestinal epithelial cells- both stem/proliferative cells and differentiated zones. Compound screening, for example, for stimulation of intestinal hormone secretion is of high value for therapeutic development given the role that intestinal hormones play in regulating human feeding behavior and metabolism. These simple models can also be adapted to produce a thick, functional mucus layer with or without an oxygen gradient to create an anaerobic luminal surface for culture of colonic flora. Such devices are high of value in evaluating the impact of pre- and probiotics- growing therapeutic areas for the treatment of human disease. These planar systems can be modified to produce “flat crypts” with a stem/proliferative zone and differentiated cell region for the study of stem cell proliferation, lineage allocation and migration. Fully 3D polarized epithelium possess an array of crypt-like structures replicating the intestinal architecture. Imposition of chemical gradients across the crypt long axis yields a polarized epithelium with a cell migration from a stem-cell niche into a differentiated cell zone. This in vitro human colon crypt array replicates the architecture, luminal accessibility, tissue polarity, mucus layer, cell types and cellular responses of in vivo intestinal crypts. These bioanalytical systems provide both high throughput as well as low throughput/content rich platforms for assay of microbiome-behavior, drug-delivery and metabolism, and other roles of the living human intestinal epithelium.
Dr. Nancy L. Allbritton is the Frank & Julie Jungers Dean of Engineering at the University of Washington. As Dean, she is committed to providing the College’s over 8,000 students with an inclusive engineering experience grounded in technical excellence. This experience is foundational to the strategic vision for the college to advance engineering excellence for the public good by fostering high-impact, interdisciplinary research and technology translation.
Allbritton is an international expert on multiplexed single-cell assays, microfabricated platforms for high-content cytometry combined with cell sorting, and microengineered stem-cell-based systems for recapitulating human organ-level function. Five companies have been formed based on her research discoveries: Protein Simple (acquired by Bio-Techne in 2014), Intellego, Cell Microsystems, Altis Biosystems and Piccolo Biosystems. Allbritton holds an appointment in the UW’s Department of Bioengineering. She has been nationally recognized for her research and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering and the National Academy of Inventors. She has received numerous awards for her leadership, including BMES Robert A. Pritzker Award and the Edward Kidder Graham Award for Leadership and Service. Prior to joining the UW, Allbritton led the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University which spans two universities and three colleges.