00:00 AM

ChemE presents Bayer Distinguished Lectureship with MIT Professor Arup K. Chakraborty March 22-23

PITTSBURGH  (March 5, 2012) … The  Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering  at the University of Pittsburgh's  Swanson School of Engineering  has named Arup K. Chakraborty, Ph.D., the Robert T. Haslam Professor of Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, and Biological Engineering at MIT, as recipient of the Bayer Distinguished Lectureship 2012. Dr. Chakraborty will present lectures on Thursday, March 22 and Friday, March 23.

The Bayer Distinguished Lectureship is presented annually by the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, and recognizes excellence in chemical education, outreach and research. The lecture is underwritten in part by Bayer MaterialScience. 

"Dr. Chakraborty is one of the nation's leading researchers in research related to experimental immunology through theoretical and computational methods, especially directed toward autoimmune deficiencies and HIV," noted  J. Karl Johnson , Interim Chairman and William Kepler Whiteford Professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. "We are looking forward to his research into these critical areas." 

Both lectures will be presented in  Benedum Hall Room 102  at the University of Pittsburgh, 3700 O'Hara Street. Parking is limited. For more information email  che@engr.pitt.edu  or call 412-624-9630.

Lecture 1: How to hit HIV where it hurts
March 22, 2012, 5:00 p.m. (Reception follows)

ABSTRACT: HIV is a virus that continues to wreak havoc around the world, especially in poor countries. A vaccine is urgently needed to overcome this major global health challenge. I will first describe some challenges that must be confronted in order to achieve this goal. I will then focus on some work that aims to address a part of these challenges by bringing together physics-based computation, consideration of protein structures, basic immunology, and human clinical data. The results of these studies suggest the design of immunogens that could be components of vaccines that might elicit immune responses which might be able to hit HIV where it hurts upon natural infection. 

Lecture 2: "Understanding adaptive immunity: A crossroad of the physical, life, and engineering sciences"
March 23, 2012, 9:30 a.m.

ABSTRACT: Complex organisms, like humans, have an adaptive immune system that mounts pathogen-specific responses to diverse and evolving microbes for which specificity cannot be pre-programmed. This remarkable system can also go awry, and autoimmune diseases result from the adaptive immune system failing to discriminate between markers of self and non-self. Developing mechanistic principles that describe adaptive immunity and its aberrant regulation is a basic problem with implications for therapies and vaccination. The immune response results from cooperative dynamic processes, with many participating components that must act collectively for a phenomenon to emerge. These collective processes span multiple spatio-temporal scales, with feedback between the scales. This hierarchically organized cooperativity along with the inherently stochastic character of the pertinent processes often makes it difficult to intuit underlying mechanisms from experimental observations. I will describe work that brings together theory and computation (rooted in engineering and physics) with experiments carried out by key collaborators (immunologists at medical schools) to shed light on some mechanisms underlying these complex multi-scale processes. The focus will be on T lymphocytes (T cells), which are important orchestrators of adaptive immunity. I will first describe studies aimed toward understanding how a T cell repertoire that is specific for unknown pathogens develops, and then consider the implications of our results for the immune response to HIV infections. 

About Dr. Chakraborty
Arup K. Chakraborty  is the Robert T. Haslam Professor of Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, and Biological Engineering at MIT, and a founding member of the Ragon Institute of MIT, MGH, and Harvard. He is also the Director (designate) of MIT's Institute of Medical Engineering and Science. After obtaining his PhD in chemical engineering at the University of Delaware, and postdoctoral studies at the University of Minnesota, he joined the faculty at the University of California at Berkeley in December 1988. He rose through the ranks, and ultimately served as the Warren and Katherine Schlinger Distinguished Professor and Chair of Chemical Engineering, Professor of Chemistry, and Professor of Biophysics at Berkeley. He was also Head of Theoretical and Computational Biology at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In September 2005, Arup moved to MIT. For over twelve years, the central theme of his research has been the development and application of theoretical/computational approaches to study how T lymphocytes, orchestrators of the adaptive immune response, function. Over the previous three years, this has included efforts to study the human immune response to HIV. A characteristic of his work is the impact of his studies on experimental immunology, and more recently, clinical studies (he collaborates extensively with leading immunologists). Arup's work at the interface of the physical, life, and engineering sciences has been recognized by many honors that include a NIH Director's Pioneer Award, the E.O. Lawrence Memorial Award for Life Sciences, the Allan P. Colburn and Professional Progress awards of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award, a Miller Research Professorship, and a National Young Investigator award. Arup is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

About Bayer MaterialScience
With 2010 sales of EUR 10.2 billion,  Bayer MaterialScience  is among the world's largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction and sports and leisure industries. Bayer MaterialScience has 30 production sites around the globe and employed approximately 14,700 people at the end of 2010. Bayer MaterialScience is a Bayer Group company.

About the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering
The  Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering  serves undergraduate and graduate engineering students, the University and our industry, through education, research, and participation in professional organizations and regional/national initiatives. Our commitment to the future of the chemical process industry drives the development of educational and research programs. The Department has a tradition of excellence in education and research, evidenced by recent national awards including numerous NSF CAREER Awards, a Beckman Young Investigator Award, an NIH Director's New Innovator Award, and the DOE Hydrogen Program R&D Award, among others. Active areas of research in the Department include Biological and Biomedical Systems; Energy and Sustainability; and Materials Modeling and Design. The faculty has a record of success in obtaining research funding such that the Department ranks within the top 25 U.S. ChE departments for Federal R&D spending in recent years with annual research expenditures exceeding $7M. The vibrant research culture within the Department includes active collaboration with the adjacent  University of Pittsburgh Medical Center , the  Center for Simulation and Modeling , the  McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine , the  Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation , the  Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering  and the U.S. DOE-affiliated Institute for Advanced Energy Solutions. 

About the Swanson School of Engineering

The University of Pittsburgh's  Swanson School of Engineering  is one of the oldest engineering programs in the United States and is consistently ranked among the top 50 engineering programs nationally. The Swanson School has excelled in basic and applied research during the past decade and is on the forefront of 21st century technology including sustainability, energy systems, bioengineering, micro- and  nanosystems, computational modeling, and advanced materials development. Approximately 120 faculty members serve more than 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students and Ph.D. candidates in six departments, including Bioengineering, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Materials Science. In 2010 the Swanson School was ranked second in North America by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) for the percentage of doctoral degrees awarded to women. 



Contact: Paul Kovach