Information-driven Biomaterials (Square Table III)

NSF Sponsored Research Collaborative Network (RCN) Meeting

January 16-17, 2020
Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Information-driven Biomaterials Meeting graphic

Co-organizers: Tara Deans (University of Utah) & Daniel A. Hammer (U. Pennsylvania)

New concepts in the design of biomaterials have led us to the moment in which biomaterials may be designed to make decisions. These decisions – including motility, replication, collective behavior, healing, and secretion – can be driven by molecular computational and decision-making networks embedded in materials. Increasing sophistication of both soft matter design and synthetic networks allow for the possibility of embedded synthetic networks in artificial cells and tissues that allow for intelligent information processing or self replication of materials.

The National Science Foundation is keenly interested in supporting an international Research Collaborative Network (RCN) for the purposes of supporting ongoing collaborative work between U.S. and European scientists in the area of information-driven materials. The goal of the Philadelphia meeting will be to identify key areas of intersection between biomaterials synthesis and response and information encoding. The meeting follows upon a very successful Square Table that was held at NSF in the Fall of 2018 that identified many of the key scientific issues in this area. The focus of the meeting will be on fundamental issues in the design of materials and networks, informed by quantitative methods and computing, and to assess what can be achieved through state of the art materials design. Because the discipline is highly interdisciplinary, the meeting will bring together basic scientists from chemistry, physics, engineering, and biomaterials science. Furthermore, this meeting will focus on how to activate an effective network of collaboration and identify areas of potential support at NSF for future programs on information-driven biomaterials.

The key scientific questions we will address are: how to make living materials, that both display features of life or integrate living components? How do we build information processing into these materials, at the interface or deeply embedded within the materials? How to we make materials that can adapt to their environment? What can we learn from extreme environments or stresses that can inform the design of new materials? How to we couple sensing to actuation?

The key logistical questions that will arise in this meeting are: what types of novel materials can we foresee developing over the next decade? What are the limitations of both biomaterials science and synthetic network design for creating the materials we seek? What are the ambitious design goals or fundamental questions that can be addressed by this group?

The meeting will include short presentations by individuals to identify areas of expertise, and discussion sessions to allow interdisciplinary exploration of ideas at the interface between materials science and information transfer. We anticipate roughly 50 participants, operating in 5 teams.

Finally, efforts to disseminate the progress made at the meeting include organizing a special issue in iScience, a new journal by Cell. This special issue will ideally include reviews, perspectives, and technical notes from program officers and other government agencies detailing short-term and long-term goals for the international Research Collaborative Network. Arrangements have already been made with the editor of the journal, Dr. Stefano Tonzani.

Thursday, January 16, 2020
8:00 – 9:00 a.m. Breakfast
9:00 – 9:15 a.m. Introduction, Germano S. Iannacchione, NSF
Session I – Biomaterials
9:15 – 9:45 a.m. Overview, Biomaterials Design
  Daniel A. Hammer, University of Pennsylvania
9:45 – 10:15 a.m. Overview, Synthetic Biology
  Tara Deans, University of Utah
  Note, all talks will be 15 minutes followed by 5 minutes of questions.
10:15 – 10:35 a.m. Christine Keating, Penn State University (Biomaterials I)
10:35 – 10:55 a.m. Josh Leonard, Northwestern (Syn Bio I)
10:55 – 11:15 a.m. Break
11:15 – 11:35 a.m. Daeyeon Lee, U. Penn (Biomaterials talk II)
11:35 – 11:55 a.m. Matt Paszek, Cornell (Syn Bio II)
11:55 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Open discussion, Session I.
12:15 – 1:45 p.m. Lunch and Breakout Session I
  In small groups of ten or so, intermixing information and biomaterials scientists, this first session will identify exciting areas of interest to meeting participants that could be at the interface between biomaterials science and information science.
Session II – Integration of ideas
1:45 – 2:15 p.m. William Shih (Harvard) (Integration)
2:15 – 2:35 p.m. Tosh Chilkoti, Duke University (Biomaterials III)
2:35 – 2:55 p.m. Roman Jerala, National Institute of Chemistry (Synthetic Biology talk III)
3:00 p.m. – 3:20 p.m. Break
3:20 – 3:40 p.m. Sebastien Lécommandoux, U. Bordeaux (Biomaterials talk IV)
3:40 – 4:00 p.m. Tom Ellis, Imperial (Sys Bio IV)
4:00 – 5:30 p.m. Break out Session II
  Session II will be devoted to identifying key technological goals and ambitions for the RCN group. If you wanted to do something in this area, what would it be? What are the grand challenges? Make a list of dream projects and goals.
Friday January 17, 2020
8:00 – 9:00 a.m. Breakfast
Session III – At the interface
  This session will focus on science that operates at the interface between biomaterials science and synthetic biology, giving examples of how the two can be integrated.
9:00 – 9:20 a.m. Rebecca Schulman, JHU (Integration talk I)
9:20 – 9:40 a.m. Anna Balazs, Pittsburgh (Integration talk III)
9:40 – 10: 00 a.m. Guiseppe Battaglia, U. College London (Integration talk III)
10:00 – 10:20 a.m. Break
10:20 – 11:45 a.m. Preparation of group presentations
  Each of the five teams will consolidate its ideas into a) grand challenges, b) technological limitations and c) needed support or programs that will effectively work.
12:00 – 2:00 p.m. Lunch and Team presentations and discussion.