UChicago molecular engineers take innovative approaches to COVID-19 vaccine

PME lab

As scientists around the world rush to learn more about COVID-19, several labs at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering are taking an innovative approach to vaccine development.

While some companies are already beginning to test vaccine formulations in small trials, there are a lot of potential hurdles to the finish line. It’s important to be exploring approaches from multiple angles, scientists say.

“The reality of vaccine work is that a lot of them won’t turn out, so it’s better to have a deep bench,” said Aaron Esser-Kahn, an associate professor of molecular engineering whose lab has rapidly shifted to address the coronavirus pandemic.

His lab is one of several at PME that is taking a slightly different tack in exploring vaccine development than most commercial labs. Melody Swartz, the William B. Ogden Professor of Molecular Engineering, and Jeff Hubbell, the Eugene Bell Professor in Tissue Engineering, are two others.

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