Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering; Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
- PhD, University of Texas at Austin, Chemical Engineering, 2004
- MS, University of Texas at Austin, Chemical Engineering, 2001
- BS, Northwestern University, Chemical Engineering, 1997
Jessica Winter’s research focuses on the applications of nanotechnology in medicine and is divided into two broad themes: nanomaterials for imaging and drug delivery and neural biomimetic materials. In the area of bionanotechnology, she researches fluorescent-magnetic nanoparticles (i.e., magnetic quantum dots), which have applications in multimodal imaging, cell and molecular separations, and molecular diagnostics. Professor Winter is interim CEO and founder of Core Quantum Technologies, a Columbus-based start-up company that invented a type of nanoparticle that emits different colors to tag molecules in biomedical tests. She is the author of more than 30 journal articles, four provisional patents, and one full US/PCT patent application. Professor Winter was named one of 20 People to Know in Technology in 2014, TechColumbus’ 2013 Inventor of the Year and received Ohio State’s Early Innovator Award in 2012.
Key Honors and Distinctions
- Inventor of the Year, TechColumbus Innovation Awards, 2013
- OSU Early Innovator Award, 2012
- OSU Distingsuihed Undergraduate Research Mentor, 2011
- OSU Lumley Research Award, 2010
- Elected Senior Member of IEEE, 2009
- ACS Progress/Dreyfus Lectureship Award, 2008
- Established leader in nanobiotechnology through the development of magnetic quantum dots for cell and molecular separations
- Nanobiotechnology, Cell and Tissue Engineering, Neural Prosthetics
"Biology is not simply writing information; it is doing something about it. A biological system can be exceedingly small. Many of the cells are very tiny, but they are very active; they manufacture various substances; they walk around; they wiggle; and they do all kinds of marvelous things---all on a very small scale. Also, they store information. Consider the possibility that we too can make a thing very small which does what we want---that we can manufacture an object that maneuvers at that level!" --Richard P. Feynman, "There is Plenty of Room at the Bottom"
Professor Winter's primary research interest is the exploration of the relationship between nanoparticles and biological elements.
This work is divided into three areas:
- Development of nanoscale neural prosthetic devices
- Patterned chemical and physical cues for improved neural adhesion and synapse formation
- Creation of oriented, nanopatterned surfaces using biological elements
Nanoscale Neural Prosthetics
The nerve cell is a fascinating model system for subcellular manipulation because it responds to chemical, mechanical, and electrical cues. Neurons have been integrated with electronic components to create hybrid electronic devices that have been used for computation, neuroscience research, and as prosthetics. Adding nanoscale manipulation to those devices will provide new insight into the biomolecular basis of disease, allow for biosensors that might detect a single molecule, harness neural networks for computation, and lead to prosthetic devices that integrate with their hosts at the cellular-level. The first area focuses on the development of nanocomponents to directly manipulate the contents of nerve cells. My initial work in this area examines the selective binding of nanoparticles to subcellular structures (i.e., ion channels, neurotransmitters, and chemical-containing vesicles). It is straightforward to attach nanoparticles to the surface of cells, but targeting specific elements in the cell's interior is more challenging. The majority of nanoparticles introduced into the cytoplasm (the fluid inside of a cell) are eventually sequestered into endosomes or lysosomes, preventing their interaction with intracellular proteins. I am exploring alternative delivery and targeting methods using techniques developed for gene therapy.
Patterning for Neural Adhesion and Synapse Formation
There is a substantial body of evidence that nanometer spacing of chemical sequences of physical patterns can effect cellular gene expression, adhesion, and migration. I am investigating the effects of nano-patterned physical and chemical cues on neuron-neuron and neuron-electrode interactions. I am particularly interested in patterns which enhance physical and electrical interfaces among nerve cells and underlying electronic devices. This technology has the potential to greatly increase the sensitivity of nerual recording devices, biosensors, and prosthetics.
The third area examines one of the most critical problems facing nanotechnology: how do we organize and arrange objects at the nanoscale? Nature has created several elegant schemes to organize elements in this size regime. For example, protein folding, DNA replication, and transport along microtubules all occur with remarkable fidelity. I am exploiting some of these methods to create "bio-inspired" surfaces. These surfaces use biomolecules to assemble and manipulate nanoparticles into coherent structures. Ultimately these structures may serve as tissue engineering substrates, biomaterial coatings, or as elements of electronic devices.