Jen Martinez spoke in session KK about her work on genetic engineering of polymers to control stem cell differentiation. The goal is to make scalable, printable, libraries of genetically engineered polymers to overcome the limitations of synthetic polymers: lack of stereo- and regio- selectivity, polydispersity, and lack of specific binding sites.
Her work on phage display techniques differs from current synthetic combinatorial chemistry, in its speed, monodisperse products, and wider variety of products (10^8 combinations). Yeast sorting allows a very quick winnowing of the options. She has thus been able to synthesize and identify particular polymers that have unique, targeted abilities to differentiate stem cells with no other external stimuli. Very beautiful work!