April 13, 2018
- Mark E. Davis, the Warren and Katharine Schlinger Professor of Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology, was the featured guest speaker for the 6th annual Amundson Lecture on April 12, 2018.
Davis’ lecture, “Fighting Cancer with Nanoparticle Medicines: How Size can Matter”, addressed the design, application and efficacy of particle-based drug delivery with tunable performance based on size, structure and chemical composition for targeted cancer therapy. The nanoparticle approach is designed to deliver potent chemotherapeutics to combat tumors while reducing toxicity to the remainder of the body. Davis’s research team engineered particle size and composition to address two competing mechanisms: (1) small molecules and particles are rapidly cleared through the kidneys thereby reducing their potential efficacy; and (2) large particles have inefficient transport both out of blood vessels and through the tumor tissue. Particles were engineered to be tens of nanometers in diameter to avoid both limitations. Moreover, the nanoparticles’ polymeric components were engineered to enable safe eventual clearance from the body. Davis’ comprehensive lecture highlighted the many steps of the drug development path from molecular engineering of efficacy and safety to regulatory processes and clinical trials. He also presented compelling data on the application of nanoparticles to RNA delivery. The lecture concluded with a description of an innovative approach — via cellular transcytosis and pH-triggered release — to deliver therapeutics across the otherwise stringent blood-brain barrier.
Davis (center) is shown with CEMS faculty members after his lecture. The annual Amundson Lecture features a guest speaker that embodies the tenets of Professor Neal R. Amundson in scholarship and innovation in the fields of chemical engineering and materials science. Amundson, department head from 1949-1974, was a visionary leader who pioneered the application of mathematics in chemical engineering.