Seattle – The University of Washington College of Arts & Sciences announced that Ashleigh Theberge, Assistant Professor in Chemistry, received a 2018 Beckman Young Investigator award.
The Beckman Young Investigator Award is given by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. Since 1990, the Beckman Young Investigator program has given 360 awards totaling more than $98 million. The program provides research support to the most promising young faculty members in the early stages of their academic careers in the chemical and life sciences, particularly to foster the invention of methods, instruments and materials that will open up new avenues of scientific research.
Theberge will use the funding provided by this award to pioneer new methods for making biomimetic tissues to study cell signaling in diseases such as asthma. Her lab develops microscale culture platforms—chips the size of a credit card in which cells are cultured in connected microchambers. These chips enable controlled culture of multiple cell types in neighboring chambers that can be connected on demand to model cell signaling that occurs in the human body. For example, in asthma, dysregulated cell signaling leads to worsened asthma symptoms. The Theberge lab's analytical chemistry tools will enable study of these signaling mechanisms and ultimately the development of therapies to inhibit dysregulated signaling in disease.
These microscale culture systems allow a significant reduction in volume compared to conventional lab procedures, enabling experiments with limited cells from patient samples. Furthermore, the devices are open, pipette accessible, and mass-producible by rapid injection molding, increasing usability for collaborators in biological and clinical labs without engineering expertise.
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The College of Arts & Sciences, founded more than 150 years ago, provides an education of tremendous breadth and depth to more than 27,000 students while advancing research and scholarship in the arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. The College has more than two dozen interdisciplinary centers and ties to many other centers, enabling scholars in diverse fields to collaborate on complex research questions in the humanities, demography, labor studies, law, astrobiology, and other areas.
The College faculty generate about $90 million in research funds annually, through public and private grants. The College also serves the community through the more than 280 performances, 60 exhibits and 100 public programs annually offered through the Henry Art Gallery, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, Meany Center for the Performing Arts.
Contact: Luke Hawkins