Northwestern University

Thu 4:00 PM

40th Annual Two Genes Lecture

When: Thursday, February 15, 2018
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM  

Where: Technological Institute, L361, 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Emily Kocevar   847.491.2623

Group: McCormick-Chemical and Biological Engineering

Category: Lectures & Meetings


Tejal A. Desai, Ph.D.
Ernest L. Prien Endowed Professor and Chair
Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences
School of Pharmacy and Medicine
University of California, San Francisco

Modulating the Therapeutic Microenvironment using Nanostructured Biomaterials

Drug delivery across epithelial barriers (oral, transdermal, mucosal) remains the preferred route for drug administration. However, therapeutic macromolecular drugs currently under development suffer from poor oral bioavailability, and consequently many of these macromolecules are delivered by injection. A variety of delivery paradigms have been developed, including chemical permeation enhancers, physical disruptors, and mucoadhesive materials, to enable more effective delivery of therapeutic macromolecules across epithelium but clinical utility has been limited thus far. Nanostructured biomaterials may offer potential advantages over conventional drug delivery strategies by enhancing molecular transport and local cellular response. The use of surface nanotopography, coupled to micro and macroscale substrates, may permit enhanced transport of drugs, particularly protein therapeutics. In this talk, I will discuss the effect of nanostructured surfaces on the modulation of tight junction permeability and transport of key therapeutic molecules in vitro and in vivo. I will also discuss how micro and nanostructures can be used modulate fibrosis and the immune microenvironment, presenting distinct biophysical cues to cells. The effect of geometry and the development of materials that can ultimately enhance therapeutic delivery is important for a broad range of diseases.


Tejal Desai is the Ernest L Prien Endowed Professor and Chair of the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences within the Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), the former chair of the Joint Graduate Program in Bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) and UCSF, and the founding director of the UCSF/UC Berkeley Masters Program in Translational Medicine. Recently, she was named Chair-Elect of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering College of Fellows.
Professor Desai’s research spans multiple disciplines including materials engineering, cell biology, tissue engineering, and pharmacological delivery systems to address issues concerning disease and clinical translation. She has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles. Her research is at the cutting-edge in precision medicine, enabled by advancements in micro and nanotechnology, engineering, and cell biology directed to clinical challenges in disease treatment. By taking advantage of the current understanding of how cells respond to engineered materials and the fabrication of well-defined extracellular microenvironments, she seeks to design new platforms to overcome existing challenges in therapeutic delivery.
Her research efforts have earned recognition including Technology Review’s "Top 100 Young Innovators,” Popular Science’s Brilliant 10, and NSF’s New Century Scholar. Some of her other honors include the Eurand Grand Prize Award for innovative drug delivery technology, the Young Career Award from the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (IEEE EMBS), the Dawson Biotechnology award, and both the UC Berkeley and Brown University Distinguished Engineering Alumni awards. In 2015, she was elected to the National Academy of Medicine
Professor Desai is a vocal advocate for STEM education and outreach to underrepresented minority students, collaborating with educational groups such as the Lawrence Hall of Science and the Exploratorium. She received her B.S. from Brown University in biomedical engineering and was awarded a Ph.D. in bioengineering jointly from UCSF and UCB.

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