Global Speaker Series: Princess Imoukhuede, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Global Speaker Series: Princess Imoukhuede, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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Organized by Medicine by Design and the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine
12:00 to 13:00
Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, Red Room

Head shot of Princess ImoukhuedeThe Medicine by Design Global Speaker Series invites established and emerging international leaders in regenerative medicine to engage with our extraordinary community of researchers and clinicians.

Medicine by Design, in partnership with the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine, is pleased to welcome Princess Imoukhuede, PhD, assistant professor of bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Professor Imoukhuede will deliver a talk on Systems Biology: Recipes for Advancing Predictive Biology.

This event will be livestreamed.
Download the event poster

Talk Abstract

Directed control of angiogenesis can improve the treatment of over 70 diseases. We hypothesize that such control can be reached by computationally integrating two types of parameters: protein concentrations and protein-protein interaction (PPI) kinetics. In support of this hypothesis, we report three key advancements: (1) engineering of new quantitative fluorescent nanosensors (qFluors) to measure plasma membrane vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) (Fig. 1) and platelet derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) concentrations and heterogeneity; (2) discovery and measurement of new cross-family interactions between PDGFs and VEGFR2 (Fig. 2); and (3) development of computational models that accurately predict VEGFR-mediated protein phosphorylation, cell proliferation, and cellmigration (Fig. 3).

Our approaches are advancing us towards the goal of directing the growth factor receptor signaling that underlies
angiogenesis. Firstly, our qFluors are establishing a new method for quantifying biomarker heterogeneity, which can be translated to clinical pathology. More immediately, this approach is providing the receptor concentration data necessary for accurate computational model development. Additionally, our discovery and measurement of cross-family binding represents a paradigm shift, where PPI interaction kinetics, not family, define our view of protein function. More immediately, these kinetic measurements provide the necessary data for predicting cell responses. Finally, our computational models are integrating each of the parameters and providing validated predictions of angiogenic cell response.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), American Heart Association
(AHA), and American Cancer Society (ACS) under Grant #s: NSF CBET: 1512598; NSF CAREER: 1653925; NSF BPE:1648454; AHA:16SDG26940002; and ACS-IL: 282802


Professor Imoukhuede earned her SB in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where her research earned her the coveted Class of 1972 award, presented annually to the project that most improves the quality of life through its impact on people and/or the environment. Professor Imoukhuede’s research was funded by the National Science Foundation’s Biotechnology Process Engineering Center at MIT and through a Bioengineering Undergraduate Research Award by the MIT Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Health.   Professor Imoukhuede was honored with the 2002 Betsy Schumaker Award (also known as the MIT female athlete of the year), was selected to a COSIDA/VERIZON Academic All-America team, and was awarded an NCAA postgraduate scholarship. Professor Imoukhuede championed the importance of social responsibility in the midst of academic excellence by serving as the President of the MIT Committee on Multiculturalism, President of the MIT chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and held both chapter and zone offices in the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).

After earning her undergraduate degree, Professor Imoukhuede pursued graduate study in bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, CA. Here, she combined sensitive techniques in biomedical optics with nanoparticle imaging towards understanding the structure, function, and trafficking of a key protein in epilepsy, the GABA transporter, GAT1.  She also performed research in nicotine addiction through molecular imaging of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Professor Imoukhuede’s research in nanotechnology earned her the Kavli Nanoscience Institute Award and her graduate research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIDA).  Professor Imoukhuede was the first African-American woman to be awarded a Bioengineering PhD by Caltech and was only the second African-American woman to earn a PhD from Caltech’s Division of Engineering and Applied Science.

Professor Imoukhuede completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Biomedical Engineering Department at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  During her fellowship at Johns Hopkins, she was 1 of ten post-doctoral fellows nationwide to earn the prestigious United Negro College Fund/Merck Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, 1 of 6 young investigators to earn the FASEB Postdoctoral Professional Development Award, and her work was awarded a Poster Award at the biennial Gordon Conference in Angiogenesis.  Her post-doctoral work was also supported by the National Institutes of Health (NHLBI).

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