Featured Customer: Jon Pokorski, Ph.D.

Jon Pokorski

Nanoparticle sizing, protein buffer optimization for crystallization, biotherapeutic stability evaluation, critical aggregation or micelle concentration. These are some of the more common applications and uses of the DynaPro® Plate Reader, including the just-launched Plate Reader III. But, some of our Plate Reader customers are far more creative than the average scientist.

Prof. Jon Pokorski, now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, was an avid user of the DynaPro Plate Reader during his postdoctoral stint at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA. His primary use was the characterization of viral nanoparticles used as delivery vehicles for cancer therapies, and the instrument factored into his 2011 publication “Cell Targeting with Hybrid Q Virus-Like Particles Displaying Epidermal Growth Factor” Pokorski et al. (2011), ChemBioChem 12(16), 2441-2447.

Prof. Nicole Steinmetz, now the George J. Picha Designated Professor in Biomaterials at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Director of the Center for Bio-Nanotechnology, was also a postdoctoral researcher at Scripps, working on the engineering of viral nanoparticles and their potential uses for drug delivery and medical diagnostics. Like Jon, Nicole conducted her research under the tutelage of Dr. MG Finn. Finn asked Jon to train Nicole on the use of the DynaPro Plate Reader in order to quickly size her nanoparticles.

Not forgetting his LSU training, Jon faithfully introduced Nicole to Plate Reader operation and data analysis, including a complete tutorial on the interpretation of autocorrelation functions (ACF). Apparently the ACF analysis made a great impression! Nicole was hooked on the DynaPro and has since published results obtained with it in Biomacromolecules, Advanced Biosystems, Nanoscale and Molecular Pharmaceutics.

One thing led to another, and Jon and Nicole found that they had more in common than just a love of dynamic light scattering and ACF interpretation. At first it was a common fondness for outdoor sports such as snowboarding, surfing, hiking and camping; then a love of each other. Last month they were married, culminating the match made in DynaPro heaven. Wedding photos available at http://www.pokometz.com/. The matchmaker Plate Reader was not invited, but took no offense.

Having solved the famous ‘two-body problem,” moving on to co-located positions with Case Western Reserve and a Möbius for determination of size and zeta potential of nanoparticles, Professors Steinmetz and Pokorski continue the light scattering romance. Asked “Did you, or do you ever discuss light scattering… outside of the lab?” Jon’s reply was: “That may be a bit too nerdy for us, but I can’t say that it has never come up.” We look forward to the continuation of successful partnerships with both of them and are on the lookout for more matchmaking opportunities.

Plate Reader, Plate Reader, make me a match!

Jon shared his plate reader love story in the Q&A that follows:

What are your and your fiancée’s backgrounds (School, studies, and hobbies)? What led you both to end up where you are today?

Jon Pokorski: I’m a Cali guy and have a BS in biochemistry from UCLA, PhD from Northwestern in organic chemistry, then we both met doing our post-docs at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego. My advisor, MG Finn, asked me to train Nicole on the plate reader and that was that! We both share a love of outdoor sports: snowboarding, surfing, hiking/camping, etc.

Nicole Steinmetz: From Essen Germany. The following blurb is from her website:

Dr. Steinmetz trained at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA where she was a NIH K99/R00 awardee and AHA post-doctoral fellow (2007-2010); she obtained her PhD in Bionanotechnology from the University of East Anglia where she prepared her dissertation as a Marie Curie Early Stage Training Fellow at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK (2004-2007). Her early training was at the RWTH-Aachen University in Germany, where she obtained her Diploma (Masters) in Molecular Biotechnology (2001-2004) after completing her pre-Diploma from the Ruhr University Bochum, Germany (1998-2001).

How did you first come into contact with the Plate Reader and if you are currently using the Plate Reader what are you using it for?

Interestingly, we had an old Wyatt MALS that I was trying to rehab in the lab and took the LSU training at Wyatt in 2007. Turns out that the old instrument was kaput, and we replaced it with the Plate Reader. At the time, Nicole and I both were using the instrument for sizing viral nanoparticles that we were using as delivery vehicles for cancer therapies. We still use Wyatt instruments for that purpose today!

How did you and your fiancée meet? Was it really over the plate reader? If so, what are the details!

I believe, that this was in fact the first time we ever had a conversation. I trained her how to use the instrument, complete with tutorial over autocorrelation functions. Me, being the putz I am, took an additional 4 years to realize she was interested in things other than particle sizing!

Do you both use the plate reader now? If so, what is your fiancée researching?

We both use Wyatt instruments but no longer the plate reader (sadly). We use the Mobius for the same purposes, sizing and zeta potential of viral particles. These are manly used for potential treatments in cancer.

Did you, or do you ever discuss light scattering with your fiancée outside of the lab?

That may be a bit too nerdy for us, but I can’t say that it has never come up.

Did you win over your fiancée because of your impressive plate loading abilities, or was it something else about you that caught her eye?

I like to think that it is my ability to interpret autocorrelation functions!

Feel free to share any additional thoughts about anything that wasn’t covered but you feel is necessary to the story!

Perhaps you may want to see the wedding website and our personal sites for the lab.