Esser-Kahn Group

We at the Esser-Kahn lab believe in interdisciplinarity: our team of biologists, chemists, and biophyicists consider how putting our minds together can improve thinking across many areas of engineering and science.

In immuno-engineering, we are answering the question, "What makes a good vaccine elicit strong protection?"  To investigate this, we use engineered manipulation to understand how innate immune cells process information to improve the protective response.  These biological insights allow our chemists to design new vaccine components and delivery systems to make vaccines safer, cheaper, and more effective.

At the same time, our materials scientists are building new materials that are modeled after materials in the biological world.  Many man-made materials are disposable and single-purpose--leading to failure and waste--while materials in nature are robust, long-lived, and customized.  We are creating materials that can adapt to their environments and train themselves dynamically by incorporating principles from our natural world.

Finally, we are interested in where we will put all the CO2 in the world and are working on developing materials and tools to improve CO2 capture and sequestration.

Please come in and click around to understand who we are, what we are interested in, and how we operate. We are always interested in a good question or a new concept. If you need a chemistry collaborator, or have a chemical question, contact us.  Thanks for stopping by!


Principal Investigator

Aaron Esser-Kahn

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).

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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