Fromen Research Group

Engineering Particle-Lung Interactions

Welcome to the Fromen Research Group!  Our research is all about the lungs. We seek to advance understanding of the unique environment of the airways, from fluid dynamics to mucosal immunology. Armed with this foundation, we develop new therapeutics and analytical tools to treat a range of diseases specific to the lungs.



A 2020 Catch-up Post

Wow, do we have a lot of great news to catch up on! 2020 has thrown us all for a loop, but the Fromen lab is continues to grow and refuses to be slowed down by a global pandemic! The following catches up on a number of big announcements from the group from the past half a year: (and we promise not to go so long w/o posting!)

 

Dec ’19 –

In Dec 2019, we celebrated our first mutli-year funding award! Our group was awarded a DE-INBRE pilot project entitled “Aged to Perfection: Enhancing Survival of Antigen Presenting Cells for Cancer Therapies”. Led by grad student Bader Jarai, this project will allow us to develop new cell-based therapies for lung cancer patients. Our group celebrated the news at our holiday gathering!

You can also hear Prof. Fromen talk about this work in a webinar overview for the DE ACCEL JIN Call on March 25 here (~15 min)

 

Jan ’20 –

Congrats to Zach Stillman, Bader Jarai, and Emily Kolewe for presenting posters during UD CBE’s 4th year talks!

 

Feb ’20 –

The group received more good funding news in February 2020 with the receipt of the PhRMA Foundation Research Starter Grant in Pharmaceutics! This project is entitled “Tuning degradation rates of dry powder hydrogel nanoparticle formulations to drive antigen-specific immune responses in the lung” and will focus on formulation design rules for inhalable immunotherapies.

Prof. Fromen traveled to Brisbane, Australia to represent the group at the International Conference on Bio-Nano Innovation (ICBNI 2020) as part of the International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICONN). Her invited talked was titled: “Leveraging molecular order of highly porous metal organic framework (MOF) nanoparticles for pulmonary drug delivery” Thanks again to the organizers for the invitation!

March ’20 –

Congrats to Ian Woodward on receiving an Honorable Mention in the 2020 NSF GRFP cycle! Ian will continue his PhD work designing new 3D-printed tools to predict airway deposition and joins a distinguished list of UD scholars honored by this fellowship and the Honorable Mention. More info can be found in this UDaily feature here. Great job Ian!

Congrats to Lucas Attia on receiving the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship! Lucas is an undergraduate researcher in the group who has worked on our collaborative project with the Bloch group in UD Chemistry and was the first person on the team to notice the fluorescent profile of UiO-66! His results were featured in our Chem Mater article last year and will also be featured in an article currently under review. He will continue research in the group in the ‘20-21 academic year and complete his senior thesis with the group, flexing both his research and computational skills in a new project direction. We can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with and we’re so very proud of you! Check out this great UDaily article all about Lucas and the Goldwater Scholarship. Way to go Lucas!

 

April ‘20 –

The Fromen lab adjusted to WFH – perfecting our “new normal” zoom backgrounds, bread baking, and quarantine hair-doo skills.

But we couldn’t stay out of research for long! Given our lab’s expertise in inhaled particulates, we focused our attention to solving problems surrounding COVID19, becoming experts in the ongoing virology/immunology behind SARS-CoV2, brainstorming new therapeutic approaches, and starting a project to assess DIY facemask fits. Getting into the lab took a team effort… but we were excited to get things rolling:

This led us to team up with the heroic HensNest team from the UD Mechanical Engineering Department, led by Jenni Buckley and Whitney Sample, to help evaluate their amazing design. To check out their work, download their open source design, and donate to the volunteer distribution effort, click here: https://me.udel.edu/hensnest-3d-printed-face-mask/

We also teamed up with the Gleghorn lab to work on new inhalable anti-viral treatments and are excited that our collaborative project was awarded a DE-CTR ACCEL Rapid Science Grant! The project is entitled “An inhalable microparticle system for the sequestration of SARS-CoV-2 virus within the lung airspaces”.

We’re still hard at work on these projects and we’ll be excited to share results over the coming months! Here are some images to pique your interest:

Aerosol Facemask Experimental Set-up:

Diagram of Inhaled Therapeutic Approach:

 

This month, we also had some great paper news! Congrats to Emma Peterman on her publication in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology! Working closely with our clinical collaborator, Dr. Jenna Briddell, a Pediatric Otolaryngologist at Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children, this work presents a clever geometric model that describes the potential benefit in tongue mobility for children who have surgery to remove a tongue tie. The full paper, entitled “Geometric model to predict improvement after lingual frenulectomy for ankyloglossia” can be found here. Paper cake celebrations will be forthcoming…

Finally, in April, we said farewell to our CBI rotation student, Josh Jachuck! We enjoyed working with Josh over his abridged CBI rotation and wish him good luck as he pursues his PhD in the Papoutsakis lab! He gave an excellent virtual talk to the CBI community at the end of the month:

May ‘20 –

May brought about the end of a whirlwind semester and the end of the academic year. As part of this journey’s end, our two graduating senior undergrads presented their Senior Thesis projects virtually this month:

Congrats to Nisha on completing her Senior Thesis entitled, “Modulating Immune Stimulation from TLR-functionalized Nanoparticles to Optimize Adjuvant-Based Immunotherapies”!

Congrats to Ellie on completing her Senior Thesis entitled, “Culture of Epithelial Cell Monolayers on 3D Printed Surfaces Towards Development of a Novel In Vitro Respiratory Deposition Tool”!

Also in May, graduate student Zach Stillman gave a virtual oral presentation at a national CBI Symposium, featuring speakers from NIH Chemical Biology Interface Programs from Univ. of Delaware, Stony Brook Univ., Johns Hopkins Univ., Univ. of Pennsylvania and Univ. of Maryland Baltimore County. Zach’s presentation was entitled: “Evaluating UiO-66 Metal-Organic Framework (MOF) Nanoparticles as Carriers for Pulmonary Drug Delivery” Congrats Zach on an excellent talk!

On May 15, Prof Fromen presented a UD CBE Lunch Webinar breaking down the fundamental science behind COVID19 “Episode COVID19: The Immune System Strikes Back”. You can watch the recorded webinar here: Webinar Link  – Access Password: Hengineer!2020

The Fromen lab was well represented in the UD COE and CBE Awards given at the virtual commencement ceremony (link). A huge congratulations to lab members for the following accomplishments:

  • Alexander F. Giacco Scholarship: Nisha Raman
  • Saurabh A. Palkar Graduate Award for Mentoring: Zach Stillman
  • Robert L. Pigford Teaching Assistant Award: Ian Woodward
  • Fraser and Shirley Russell Teaching Fellow in Chemical Engineering for ’20-21: Zach Stillman
  • Engineering Alumni Association Scholarship: Emma Peterman, Lucas Attia
  • Chemical Engineering Teaching Fellows for ’20-21: Emily Kolewe, Bader Jarai

Along with commencement activities, the Fromen lab said goodbye to three graduating Fromen Lab Members: Nisha Raman (BS in Chemical Engineering), Ellie Papoutsakis (BS in Biomedical Engineering), and Rickey Egan (Masters in Engineering Particle Technology). Both Nisha and Rickey are headed on to positions at Merck and Ellie is preparing for a graduate program in the fall. 

We will miss you all and wish you the best of luck!!

 

June ’20 –

Congrats to Ian Woodward and Kartik Bomb on their excellent virtual talks at the UD CBE 2nd Year Research Review! Kartik’s talk was entitled: “Development of a Mechanically Tunable, Non-degradable Hydrogel Platform to Assess Macrophage Polarization in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis” Ian’s talk was entitled: 3D Printed Hierarchical and Anatomical Structures for Approximating the Lung” Congratulations to both of you adjusting to the new online presentation format!!

Kartik’s Presentation:

Ian’s Presentation:

 

Congrats to Prof Fromen for winning the ASEE Chemical Engineering Division Young Faculty/Future Faculty Mentoring and Travel Award! Thank you so much to the awards committee for this great honor! She and Prof. Enzser presented their paper at the virtual ASEE meeting, entitled “Putting Course Design Principles to Practice: Creation of an Elective on Vaccines and Immunoengineering” which was nominated for the Best Paper in the Chemical Engineering Division!

 

A huge Congrats to Emily Kolewe on her accepted paper in the Journal of Aerosol Medicine and Pulmonary Drug Delivery! This work features Emily’s pioneering efforts to demonstrate delivery of an aerosol to a specific lobe of the lung by controlling the inlet release position in the mouth. The full paper is entitled “Realizing Lobe-Specific Aerosol Targeting in a 3D Printed In Vitro Lung Model” and we will post the link as soon as it is available! Paper cake celebrations will be forthcoming…

 

Finally in closing, June brought a renewed commitment for the Fromen lab, UD CBE, COE, and University community to pause, self-educate, reflect, listen, engage, and make a plan for action that supports the Black Lives Matters movement and counters the pervasive and toxic impact on racism in our community. Inclusion, equity, respect, and citizenship are central components of the Fromen lab and we are working today and every day to be positive change agents within our various local, national, and scientific communities. At this time, we’d like to share a new lab poster, modified with permission from the great work of @SammyKatta (look here for the corresponding pledge and to download your own)

 

That wraps things up for the time being! As you can see, we’ve been quite busy!! Thanks for checking in on the page and keep coming back for more awesome Fromen lab science to come!

A Blockbuster AIChE!

Congrats to the Fromen lab students attending the AIChE conference in Orlando! Nisha, Lucas, and Emma presented at the Undergraduate Research Poster session, Zach presented a poster in the Materials Division, and Bader gave a fantastic talk about the biological results of our collaborative work with the Bloch lab!  Meanwhile, Prof Fromen was running around chairing sessions for Nanobiotechnology and Biomaterials sections. We all enjoyed connecting with old friends and making new networking connections!  Special congrats to Nisha and Lucas for winning first and second place awards in their poster division!!

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