BME7900 Seminar Series - Amy Herr, PhD



Weill Hall 226


We welcome the next speaker in our series, Dr. Amy Herr. Dr. Herr is the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley.

Single-cell Omics: Precision Microanalytical Tools Designed to Profile Proteoforms

Abstract: Both fundamental biosciences and applied biomedicine have been transformed by powerful single-cell resolution analysis tools, not least of which are sequencing tools. Yet, genomic and transcriptomic information is steps removed from cellular phenotype and function. To a large degree, proteins are phenotype. Proteins dictate function. Consequently, protein molecules are diverse.

The natural diversity of proteoforms presents a tantalizing window into cellular phenotype and function, while also presenting measurement challenges. Thus, to convey the breadth of the possible distinct molecular forms of a protein product of a single gene (i.e., genetic variation, alternatively spliced RNA transcripts, and post-translational modifications), we adopt the concept of “proteoforms”.

To address this proteoform-measurement gap, our research is focused on the design and introduction of single-cell analysis tools with the specificity to distinguish among proteoforms. This talk will focus on our recent work harnessing microfluidic design to resolve proteoforms from single cells. Further, I will share our work to integrate proteoform information into single-cell omic analysis, with both analyses performed, importantly, on the same originating cell.

Our long-term vision is to create tools that allow researchers to query a unique originating cell for protein-level information, as informed by ex ante sequencing-based discovery. Taken together, we strive to introduce tools uniquely equipped to measure both cellular and molecular heterogeneity as a means to more comprehensively understand cellular form and function.

Bio: Prof. Herr joined UC Berkeley as Assistant Professor of Bioengineering in 2007, was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2012, and promoted to Full Professor in 2015 and held a 5-year appointment at the Lester John & Lynne Dewar Lloyd Distinguished Professor. Prior to joining UC Berkeley, she was a staff member in the Biosystems Research Group at Sandia National Laboratories (Livermore, CA; 2002-2007). She earned her PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford with Profs. Tom Kenny & Juan Santiago as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, an MS in Mechanical Engineering also from Stanford, and a BS in Engineering & Applied Science from Caltech. She is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), as well as a successful entrepreneur. She is a co-inventor on >60 unique patent applications with 36 issued patents.

A major focus of Dr. Herr's lab is engineering innovation for analysis of complex biological systems — as is required to address questions important to both fundamental biological systems and applied clinical research. They employ a combination of approaches drawn from bioengineering, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering with strong foundations in biology, materials science, and analytical chemistry. In essence, they strive to advance the “mathematization” of biology & medicine.