Aaron Esser-Kahn

  • Associate Professor of Molecular Engineering and Chair of the Admissions Committee
  • Research and Scholarly Interests: Vascular Tissue Engineering, Immune Programming Polymers, Carbon Capture Methods
  • Websites: Esser-Kahn Group
  • Contact: aesserkahn@uchicago.edu
  • Assistant: Keturah Mitchell-McCall
  • Office Location:
    Eckhardt Research Center, ERC 373, 5640 South Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637

    Marjorie B. Kovler Viral Oncology Laboratories
    Room 102
    910 East 58th Street
    Chicago, IL 60637 

Prof. Esser-Kahn grew up in suburban Detroit. He studied at the California Institute of Technology and The University of California at Berkeley. He worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He launched his career at the University of Irvine in the Chemistry Department where he worked from 2011 until 2017. Joining the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) in the same year, he has pursued many areas of research.

His primary area of research focuses on immunoengineering and improving immune responses in vaccination. Here, his group works on improving innate immune responses through better understanding immune responses and finding new ways to manipulate and improve responses. His secondary area of research focuses on adaptive materials. Here, his group works on developing materials that mimic the human body in their ability to respond and adapt to an external environment - providing force-mediated adaptation.

Our research interests lie at the intersection of biology, chemistry and materials science. We believe in using the tools from each discipline for the task at hand. Our group’s current research focuses on three projects that function as extensions of this philosophy. First, we are currently working toward microvascular thermal and gaseous exchange units. We are using knowledge derived from biology to replicate structures adapted for gas capture. Second, we are creating materials for reprogramming the immune system. Using tools from materials chemistry, we are creating polymer facades designed to rewire the immune system toward desired targets. Third, we are working towards creating synthetic tissue scaffolds.

Site-specific antigen-adjuvant conjugation using cell-free protein synthesis enhances antigen presentation and CD8+ T-cell response
Weiss, A. M., Ajit, J., Albin, T. J., Kapoor, N., Maroju, S., Berges, A., … Esser-Kahn, A. P. Scientific Reports, 11(6267).

In Vitro and In Vivo Analyses of the Effects of Source, Length, and Charge on the Cytotoxicity and Immunocompatibility of Cellulose Nanocrystals
Weiss, A et al. ACS Biomater. Sci. Eng. 2021. doi: 10.1021/acsbiomaterials.0c01618

Demonstration of the Photothermal Catalysis of the Sabatier Reaction Using Nickel Nanoparticles and Solar Spectrum Light
Steeves, T. and Esser-Kahn AP. RSC Adv., 2021,11, 8394-8397. doi: 10.1039/D0RA09939B

Bio-Inspired Mechanically Adaptive Materials Through Vibration-Induced Crosslinking
Wang, Z., Wang, J., Ayarza, J. et al. Bio-inspired mechanically adaptive materials through vibration-induced crosslinking. Nat. Mater. (2021). doi: 10.1038/s41563-021-00932-5

Receptor–Ligand Kinetics Influence the Mechanism of Action of Covalently Linked TLR Ligands
Kimani FW, Ajit J, Galluppi A, Manna S, Howitz WJ, Tang S, Esser-Kahn AP. ACS Chem. Biol. 2021, 16, 2, 380–388. Feb 1, 2021. doi: 10.1021/acschembio.0c00924

Pathogen-like Nano-assemblies of Covalently Linked TLR Agonists Enhance CD8 and NK Cell Mediated Anti-Tumor Immunity.
Saikat Manna, Sampa Maiti, Jingjing Shen, Wenjun Du, Aaron P. Esser-Kahn. ACS Cent. Sci. 2020, 6, 11, 2071–2078. Oct 27, 2020. doi: 10.1021/acscentsci.0c01001

From Glucose to Polymers: A Continuous Chemoenzymatic Process
Maiti, S., Manna, S., Banahene, N., Pham, L., Liang, Z., Wang, J., Xu, Y., Bettinger, R., Zientko, J., Esser‐Kahn, A.P. and Du, W. Angewandte Chemie Int Ed. Volume 59, Issue43 Pages 18943-18947. Oct 19, 2020. doi: 10.1002/anie.202006468

Small Molecule NF-κB Inhibitors as Immune Potentiators for Enhancement of Vaccine Adjuvants
Brittany A. Moser, Yoseline Escalante-Buendia, Rachel C. Steinhardt, Matthew G. Rosenberger, Britteny J. Cassaidy, Nihesh Naorem, Alfred C. Chon, Minh H. Nguyen, Ngoctran T. Tran, and Aaron P. Esser-Kahn. Front Immunol. 2020; 11: 511513. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.511513

Increased Vaccine Tolerability and Protection via NF-κB Modulation
B. A. Moser, R. C. Steinhardt, Y. Escalante-Buendia, D. A. Boltz, K. M. Barker, B. J. Cassaidy, M.G. Rosenberger, S. Yoo, B. G. McGonnigal, and A. P. Esser-Kahn. Science Advances 09 Sep 2020: Vol. 6, no. 37, eaaz8700. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz8700

100th Anniversary of Macromolecular Science Viewpoint: Piezoelectrically Mediated Mechanochemical Reactions for Adaptive Materials
Jorge Ayarza, Zhao Wang, Jun Wang, Chao-Wei Huang, and Aaron P. Esser-Kahn. ACS Macro Lett. 2020, 9, 9, 1237–1248 Aug. 17, 2020. doi: 10.1021/acsmacrolett.0c00477

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