2009 Lectureship Recipient

Professor Nicholas Peppas

Department of Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering
University of Texas at Austin

Abstract

"Recognition and Delivery: The Next Generation of Medical Microdevices"

Nanoscale science and engineering has provided new avenues for engineering materials with macromolecular and molecular scale precision, leading to diagnostic and therapeutic technologies that will revolutionize the way health care is administered.  In particular, we are beginning to mimic biological systems with the goal of achieving molecular scale control via self-assembly and directed assembly techniques.  The unlimited potential of nanoscale science and engineering to positively affect medical science and technology has led to improved diagnostics and enhanced therapeutic methods.  In particular, biomimetic methods are facilitating the fabrication and assembly of materials and devices with molecular precision.  We create self-regulated micro- and nanoscale drug delivery devices that combine diagnostic and therapeutic actions, enabling real-time monitoring of target analytes and instantaneous administration of therapy.   Engineering the molecular design of intelligent biomaterials by controlling recognition and specificity is the first step in coordinating and duplicating complex biological and physiological processes. We address design and synthesis characteristics of artificial molecular structures capable of specific molecular recognition of biological molecules. Molecular imprinting and microimprinting techniques, which create stereo-specific three-dimensional binding cavities based on a biological compound of interest, can lead to preparation of biomimetic materials for intelligent drug delivery and drug targeting.

Abstract

"Addressing Educational Problems in an Evolving, Global and Challenging Chemical Engineering World"

New social concerns about the use of bioengineering, nanotechnology and energy resources are affecting the way modern chemical engineering addresses such problems. This is reflected by increased student demand, new job opportunities in emerging fields and industry, faculty hiring, and even departmental name changes in a number of cases.  This increased role reflects the challenges ahead in ChE training and research.  From a training standpoint, new courses are being designed to teach fundamentals combining engineering and biology to instruct students on critical aspects of this rapidly changing field.  From a research standpoint, molecular design and engineering principles are applied in a range of new areas including gene therapy delivery, biosensor design, new imaging agents, novel biomaterials and other fields where chemistry and engineering will undoubtedly impact medicine.  Chemical engineering has played a major role in bioengineering, nanotechnology and energy problems in the past. Its importance in the future will be even more profound.