DARPA Young Faculty Award, 2011; NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, 2009; ACS PROGRESS/Dreyfus Lectureship, 2008; NIH Research Scholar Development Award, 2007; NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2004-2006
The goal of research in the Payne Lab is to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms by which cells interact with synthetic materials. Recent developments in a broad range of scientific disciplines including microscopy, spectroscopy, cell biology, materials science, and structural biology have created a unique opportunity to probe this question directly. Students in the Payne Lab draw upon these scientific disciplines for a highly interdisciplinary research experience.
Nanoparticle-cell interactions. Nanoparticles have important biomedical applications ranging from the treatment of human disease with gene therapy to understanding basic cellular functions with fluorescent probes. In all of these applications, nanoparticles come into contact with a complex mixture of extracellular proteins. The Payne Lab is interested in understanding how adsorption of proteins onto the surface of a nanoparticle alters the interaction of the nanoparticle with a cell. By understanding how nanoparticles interact with cells in a realistic biological environment, we will be able to design better nanoparticles for the treatment and detection of human disease.
Conducting polymer-cell interactions. The delivery of biocompatible conducting polymers into cells has important applications in regenerative medicine. The Payne Lab is using their expertise in nanoparticle delivery to develop methods for conducting polymer delivery. In addition, the Payne Lab is using cells and biomolecules as catalysts for the polymerization of conducting polymers with tunable properties.
Fluorescence microscopy. Observing the interactions of cells with materials requires the spatial and temporal resolution provided by fluorescence microscopy. While recent developments in fluorescence microscopy make it possible to image many of the dynamic events that are essential to cellular function, new methods are necessary to observe the dynamics of single molecules inside living cells. Imaging within live cells is difficult as the emission from fluorescent probes competes with the autofluorescence of the cell. The Payne Lab is developing new optical techniques for quantitative cellular imaging. Optical methods of interest include nanometer-level imaging, spectroscopic single-particle tracking, and multiphoton total internal reflection microscopy.