Aaron Palmer Esser-kahn

Picture of Aaron Palmer Esser-kahn
Assistant Professor, Chemistry
School of Physical Sciences
B.S., California Institute of Technology, 2004, Chemistry
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2009, Chemistry
Phone: (949) 824-4936
Email: aesserka@uci.edu
University of California, Irvine
3038A Frederick Reines Hall
Department of Chemistry
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
Biomaterials, Carbon Capture, Microvasculature, Synthetic Chemistry, Materials science, Immunology
Beckman Institute
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2009-2011
Worked with Prof. Jeffrey Moore as part of the Autonomous Materials Systems group.
Research Abstract
The Esser-Kahn group is taking a broad approach to materials chemistry by bridging the fields of chemistry, biology and materials science using the tools from each for the task at hand. We have selected areas of practical importance which function as extensions of this philosophy.

Carbon Capture Lung:

Our first area is focused on using materials science and chemical knowledge to replicate biological structures adapted for gaseous capture. Carbon dioxide production is, at the moment, an unstoppable byproduct of modern society. Natural designs capture and release CO2 using micro-vascular systems like the ones found in lungs. Using materials science, we aim to create synthetic micro-vascular systems that allow capture and controlled release of carbon dioxide from point sources around the world.

Synthetic Tissue Scaffolds:

Microvasculature is equally important in tissue engineering. New techniques for building tissue scaffolds with controlled vasculature will provide tools for advancing medical science and answering fundamental questions about cell biology. Our goal is to develop readily accessible systems that can be engineered and chemically modified to provide microvascular networks inside tissue constructs.

Immune-Programming Polymer Façades:

Natural systems use the recognition of antigens by dendritic cells to eliminate bacterial infection. We aim to synthesize a bio-material that will act as an antigen-bearing façade on the outside surface of cells that elude the immune system (e.g. cancer, HIV). In doing so, our materials will activate dendritic cells and redirect the adaptive immune system toward a desired cell-type. Polymer façades will be synthesized by applying macromolecular design principles and bioconjugation chemistry to control the antigen mixture and spacing on polymers that are designed to attach to an elusive cell type. We seek to answer fundamental questions about the stimulation of dendritic cells and the inner workings of the immune system, while providing a new approach to immunotherapy.
Available Technologies
8) A. P. Esser-Kahn*, S. A. Odom*, N. R. Sottos, S. R. White, J. S. Moore, "Triggered Release from Polymer Capsules" Macromolecules, Article ASAP
7) L. S. Witus, T. Moore, B. W. Thuronyi, A. P. Esser-Kahn, R. A. Scheck, A. T. Iavarone, and M. B. Francis. “Identification of Highly Reactive Sequences For PLP-Mediated Bioconjugation Using a Combinatorial Peptide Library” J. Am. Chem. Soc. (2010), 132, 16812-16817. DOI: 10.1021/ja105429n
6) A. P. Esser-Kahn, V. Trang, M. B. Francis, “Incorporation of Anti-Freeze Proteins into Polymer Coatings Using Site-Selective Bioconjugation” J. Am. Chem. Soc. (2010), 132, 13264-13269. DOI: 10.1021/ja103038p
5) A. P. Esser-Kahn, N. R. Sottos, S. R. White, J. S. Moore, ”Programmable Microcapsules from Self-Immolative Polymers” J. Am. Chem. Soc (2010), 132, 10266-10268. DOI: 10.1021/ja104812p. Selected for Faculty of 1000
4) A. P. Esser-Kahn, A. T. Iavarone, M. B. Francis, “Metallothionein-Crosslinked Hydrogels for
the Selective Removal of Heavy Metals from Water”, J. Am. Chem. Soc (2008), 130, 15820-15822. DOI:10.1021/ja807095r
3) A. P. Esser-Kahn, M. B. Francis, “Protein-Crosslinked Polymeric Materials Through Site-Selective Bioconjugation” Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. (2008) 47, 375-378. DOI: 10.1002/anie.200705564, Selected as Hot Paper.
2) J. M. Hooker, A. P. Esser-Kahn, M. B. Francis. “Modification of Aniline Containing Proteins Using an Oxidative Coupling Strategy” J. Am. Chem. Soc. (2006), 128, 15558–15559. DOI: 10.1021/ja064088d
1) J. M. Gilmore,† R. A. Scheck,† A. P. Esser-Kahn, N. S. Joshi, M. B. Francis, “N-terminal protein modification through a biomimetic transamination reaction” Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. (2006), 45, 5307-5311. DOI: 10.1002/anie.200890204
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