Associate Professor, BENG
Nanotechnology, Central Nervous System, Bioinspired Materials, Peptides, Drug Delivery
The Kwon Lab in the Bioengineering Department at UC San Diego engineers tools, diagnostics, and treatments for disorders that affect the brain. Using an interdisciplinary approach, we design bioinspired materials to interact with biological systems at the nanometer length scale using the unique physical, biological, and smart properties of nanomaterials. We build nanosensors that respond to disease-associated activity of the protease calpain in traumatic brain injury to image calpain activity in the living brain. These nanosensors can also be designed to create a urine-based biomarker for a minimally-invasive diagnosis of brain injury. In addition, we develop targeted nanocarriers that deliver therapeutic macromolecules such as proteins and nucleic acids to the injured brain. Ultimately, our goal is to develop precision medicine strategies to detect and treat brain disorders.
Ester J. Kwon is an associate professor of Bioengineering at the University of California San Diego. She earned her B.S. in Bioengineering and B.A. in Molecular & Cell Biology at UC Berkeley. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in Bioengineering at the University of Washington with Suzie H. Pun and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Sangeeta N. Bhatia. Dr. Kwon is a recipient of the pre- and post-doctoral NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards, the NIH Director’s New Innovator award, and the NSF CAREER Award. In addition to her research activities, Dr. Kwon is motivated to create an inclusive research environment through the individualized mentorship of trainees and outreach to young scientists.