Brittany HartwellAssistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering
- Postdoctoral Research Associate, Koch Institute | Irvine Lab | Immunoengineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2017 - 2021
- PhD, Bioengineering | Biomolecular Engineering, University of Kansas, 2016
- BS, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, 2011
Dr. Hartwell began her BME faculty appointment in Fall 2021.
The Hartwell Immunoengineering Lab combines perspectives from biomolecular engineering, drug delivery, and immunology to develop antigen-specific immunotherapies and vaccines for applications in autoimmunity, cancer, and infectious disease. Our research focuses on the design and development of molecules that achieve targeted and controlled modulation of the immune system in an antigen-specific manner, directing the immune response towards tolerance (for therapeutic applications in autoimmunity) or immunogenicity (for therapeutic or vaccine 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. Tuning the physicochemical properties of our molecular platforms allows us to direct 1) antigen delivery, 2) cellular interactions, and 3) the resulting immune response.
The development of molecules capable of targeting the immune system in a specific manner will address a pressing need for safer and more effective disease interventions across multiple disease settings, ranging from autoimmune diseases like MS to infectious diseases like COVID-19. For example, many current therapy options for autoimmunity and cancer act in a nonspecific manner, which translates to reduced efficacy and heightened risk of adverse side effects for patients. Additional value of this work lies in using the molecules we design as investigative tools to provide mechanistic insight, both to further our understanding of the immune response and to guide future design of immunotherapies and vaccines.
Hartwell BL, Pickens CJ, Leon M, Northrup L, Christopher MA, Griffin JD, Martinez-Becerra F, Berkland C. “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. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaut.2018.06.006
Hartwell BL, Pickens CJ, Leon M, Berkland C. “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. DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.7b00335
Hartwell BL, Martinez-Becerra F, Chen J, Shinogle H, Sarnowski M, Moore D, Berkland C. “Antigen-specific binding of multivalent soluble antigen arrays induces receptor clustering and impedes B cell receptor mediated signaling.” Biomacromolecules. 2016; 17(3): 710-22. DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.5b01097
Hartwell BL, Smalter Hall A, Swafford D, Sullivan BP, Garza A, Sestak JO, Northrup L, Berkland C. “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. DOI: 10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.5b00825
Hartwell BL, Antunez L, Sullivan BP, Thati S, Sestak JO, Berkland C. “Multivalent nanomaterials: learning from vaccines and progressing to antigen-specific immunotherapies.” Journal of Pharmaceutical Science. 2015; 104(2): 346-61. Epub 2014. DOI: 10.1002/jps.24273