About this Event
Blood clotting and the biopolymeric flow sensor, von Willebrand factor
Ed Webb, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering & Mechanics
Zoom Link: https://lehigh.zoom.us/j/97504643424
Polymers capable of responding to environmental stimuli span a broad range of functionality and potential applications. Specific to this presentation are polymers that respond to flow conditions, like the mammalian glycoprotein von Willebrand Factor (vWF). vWF typically circulates in human blood in a compact, collapsed conformation; however, when it experiences increased blood flow near vascular injury sites, it undergoes dramatic elongation to a string-like conformation. This transition enables binding with platelets in blood and collagen exposed on injured arterial walls and, in this way, vWF initiates the so-called blood clotting cascade. vWF’s role in maintaining human wellness continues to be further understood and appreciated. Nonetheless, it is already known that 2-3% of the human population suffers from bleeding or clotting disorders, and many of those pathologies are associated with dysfunctional vWF behavior. Elucidating driving forces behind vWF’s functionality has the potential to benefit clinical practices around such pathologies, and also to advance concepts for synthesizing polymers that mimic the vWF conformation transition as a means of targeted drug delivery. This presentation will discuss vWF’s structure-function relations in greater detail, including work by our multidisciplinary research team to better understand the coupling between flow conditions, polymer conformation, and polymer bioreactivity. In particular, we will discuss efforts to bridge information from the relatively short time scales associated with molecular models to time scales associated with diagnosing vWF-associated pathology.
Prof. Webb’s research group applies simulation techniques across multiple length and time scales to elucidate fundamental phenomena controlling the thermo-mechanical response of materials. Interests include flow-responsive polymers, stress and structure evolution in nanostructures and thin films, capillary driven fluid flow, and mass and heat transport processes at interfaces between dissimilar materials. Prior to joining the Lehigh faculty in 2010, Webb spent 12 years with Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM. As a national laboratory research scientist, Prof. Webb applied high performance computing resources to a range of materials and mechanics problems. He was the recipient of several Recognition Awards from Sandia for various contributions in research and service to the organization.
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