- Research Assistant Professor Chemical and Biological Engineering; Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science
Andrew Lee is a Research Assistant Professor at Northwestern University, in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. Following his PhD training in chemistry at Harvard University post-doctoral training at Northwestern University, he began an appointment as an independent investigator at Northwestern University.
Andrew Lee’s activity in cancer research involves the development of spherical nucleic acid (SNA) nanostructures as therapeutic agents for the treatment of cancer (gene regulatory and immunotherapeutic mechanisms of action), in research programs led by Professor Chad Mirkin at Northwestern University. This research is examining the chemical composition and structure of SNAs (the core, oligonucleotide, and antigen and peptide-conjugation chemistries) as the drivers of the ability of SNAs to function as agents that enter targeted cells and enhance the activity of therapeutic oligonucleotides (as gene-silencing or as immunostimulatory compounds). Furthermore, his research examines the sub-cellular localization of components of nanostructures following the cellular uptake and dissociation of the nanostructures into their molecular components (e.g., phospholipid molecules, peptides, oligonucleotides).
Ongoing and future interests in cancer research involve the areas of 1) targeting therapeutic and diagnostic agents to specific tissues and populations of cells, by way of interactions between nanoparticles and cell-surface markers; 2) identification of the role of post-translational modifications in the initiation and progression of cancer. Lee examines how nanoparticles that are chemically functionalized at their surfaces with ligands or receptors chosen to recognize cell-surface markers (i.e., “active targeting”) interact with surfaces that present cell-surface markers. Understanding how nanomaterials and their surface functionalization interact with heterogeneous environments should lead to major advances in the design of nanoparticle and surface chemistry to enable nanoparticles to reach, accumulate, and deliver payloads to targeted cells in cancer therapy. Towards this approach, Lee examines the migration of targeted nanoparticles upon their interaction with synthetic substrates having surfaces with well-defined ligand density, and particularly those presenting gradients in ligand density. In addition, Lee examines the post-translational modifications as the driver of oncoprotein function and how to exploit these proteins in immunotherapy (e.g., vaccines targeting these modifications).