Brittany Hartwell

Brittany Hartwell

Brittany Hartwell

Assistant Professor (starting Jan. 2021), Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Koch Institute -- Irvine Lab for Immunobioengineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2017 - 2020
  • PhD, Bioengineering -- Biomolecular Engineering, University of Kansas, 2016
  • BS, Chemical Engineering, Iowa State University, 2011
Research Interests

Dr. Hartwell will begin her BME faculty appointment in January 2021.

The goal of the Hartwell Lab is to develop antigen-specific immunotherapies for autoimmunity and cancer through immunoengineering, combining perspectives from biomolecular engineering, drug delivery, and immunology. My research focuses on the design and development of molecules that achieve targeted and controlled modulation of the immune system in an antigen-specific manner, shifting the immune response towards tolerance (for therapeutic applications in autoimmunity) or immunogenicity (for therapeutic applications in cancer and infectious disease). Our rational molecular design approach is motivated by knowledge of inherent transport and cellular mechanisms, with a particular focus on targeting the mucosal immune system for autoimmune therapies. Tuning the physicochemical properties of our molecular platforms allows us to direct 1) antigen delivery, 2) cellular interactions, and 3) the resulting immune response.

This work offers significant potential for the treatment of cancer and autoimmunity, as most current therapy options for these diseases act in a nonspecific manner translating to reduced efficacy and heightened risks of adverse side effects for patients. The development of molecular therapies capable of inducing antigen-specific tolerance or immunogenicity will address a pressing need for safer and more effective treatment. Additional value of this work lies not only in developing potential therapeutics, but also in using the molecules we design as investigative tools to provide mechanistic insight to further our understanding of the immune response and guide future design of antigen-specific immunotherapies.

Selected Publications

Brittany L. Hartwell, Chad J. Pickens, Martin Leon, Laura Northrup, Matthew A. Christopher, J. Daniel Griffin, Francisco Martinez-Becerra, Cory Berkland. “Soluble antigen arrays disarm antigen-specific B cells to promote lasting immune tolerance in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.” Journal of Autoimmunity. 2018; 93(9):76-88.

Brittany L. Hartwell, Chad J. Pickens, Martin Leon, Cory Berkland. “Multivalent antigen arrays exhibit high avidity binding and modulation of B cell receptor-mediated signaling to drive efficacy against experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.” Biomacromolecules. 2017; 18(6):1893-1907.

Brittany L. Hartwell, Francisco Martinez-Becerra, Jun Chen, Heather Shinogle, Michelle Sarnowski, David Moore, Cory Berkland. “Antigen-specific binding of multivalent soluble antigen arrays induces receptor clustering and impedes B cell receptor mediated signaling.” Biomacromolecules. 2016; 17(3): 710-22.

Brittany L. Hartwell, Aaron Smalter Hall, David Swafford, Bradley P. Sullivan, Aaron Garza, Joshua O. Sestak, Laura Northrup, Cory Berkland. “Molecular dynamics of multivalent soluble antigen arrays support two-signal codelivery mechanism in treatment of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.” Molecular Pharmaceutics. 2016; 13(2): 330-43.

Brittany L. Hartwell, Lorena Antunez, Bradley P. Sullivan, Sharadvi Thati, Joshua O. Sestak, Cory Berkland. “Multivalent nanomaterials: learning from vaccines and progressing to antigen-specific immunotherapies.” Journal of Pharmaceutical Science. 2015; 104(2): 346-61. Epub 2014.

J. Daniel Griffin, Martin A. Leon, Jean R. Salash, Michael Shao, Brittany L. Hartwell, Chad J. Pickens, Joshua O. Sestak, and Cory Berkland. “Acute B-cell inhibition by soluble antigen arrays is valency-dependent and predicts immunomodulation in splenocytes.” Biomacromolecules. 2019; 20(5): 2115-2122.

Laura Northrup, J. Daniel Griffin, Matthew Christopher, Lorena Antunez, Brittany L. Hartwell, Chad J. Pickens, Cory Berkland. “Co-delivery of autoantigen and dexamethasone in incomplete Freund’s adjuvant ameliorates experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.” Journal of Controlled Release. 2017; 28(266): 156-165. 

Laura Northrup, Bradley P. Sullivan, Brittany L. Hartwell, Aaron Garza, Cory Berkland. “Screening immunomodulators to skew the antigen-specific immune response in an autoimmune system.” Molecular Pharmaceutics. 2017; 14(1): 66-80.

Sharadvi Thati, Christopher Kuehl, Brittany L. Hartwell, Joshua O. Sestak, Laird Forrest, Teruna J. Siahaan, and Cory Berkland. "Routes of administration and dose optimization in mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis."Journal of Pharmaceutical Science. 2015; 104(2): 714-21.

Laura Northrup, Joshua O. Sestak, Bradley Sullivan, Sharadvi Thati, Brittany L. Hartwell, Teruna J. Siahaan, Charlotte M. Vines, and Cory Berkland. “Codelivery of autoantigen and B7 pathway modulators suppresses experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.” AAPS: Nanoparticles in Vaccine Delivery. 2014; 16(6): 1204-13.

Joshua O. Sestak, Brad Sullivan, Sharadvi Thati, Laura Northrup, Brittany L. Hartwell, Lorena Antunez, Laird Forrest, Charlotte M. Vines, Teruna J. Siahaan, and Cory Berkland. “Codelivery of antigen and an immune cell adhesion inhibitor is necessary for efficacy of soluble antigen arrays in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.” Molecular Therapy — Methods & Clinical Development. 2014. DOI 10.1038/mtm.2014.8