April 9, 2015
Vlasta Klima Balloun Lecture, co-sponsored with Chemical and Biological Engineering
“Engineering Immune Responses in Vaccination and Tolerance Induction”
Barry L McLean Professor for Molecular Engineering Innovation and Enterprise
Hubbell designs materials to assemble in such a way that they can stimulate the immune systems to fight infection or malignancy, or turn off some aspects of the immune system to address auto-immune diseases such as type-1 diabetes. Hubbell has coined the term “immuno-modulatory materials” to describe this newly emerging field of research. Along with his associates, he holds 77 patents. One of his companies, Kuros Biosurgery, in Zurich, is developing growth factor engineering and biomaterials technology for surgical sealants and tissue repair agents. It is based on research from his academic laboratory on growth factor variants that bind to biomaterials such as fibrin, a protein involved in blood clotting, as well as on synthetic hydrogel technology. His other company Anokion develops immunological tolerance technology for preventing immunity to protein drugs that would otherwise elicit an immune response. A good example is in hemophilia A. Approximately one-third of children who are treated with the protein drug to correct this genetic disease develop an inhibiting immunological recognition to the protein, which makes their lives very difficult. Anokion is working on ways to induce tolerance to such proteins to prevent their immunological recognition.
Hubbell received his bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University and his PhD from Rice University, both in chemical engineering. He started his academic career as a member of the chemical engineering faculty at the University of Texas, then at the California Institute of Technology. Hubbell next moved to Switzerland, where he initially served as a professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Institute for Biomedical Engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the University of Zurich. He moved to École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lusanne (EPFL) in 2003 to serve as founding director of the Institute of Bioengineering. Hubbell is the former president of the Society for Biomaterials, and an elected fellow of Biomaterials Science and Engineering, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering.