Hierarchical Interfaces for Therapeutic Delivery

Friday, February 6, 2015 - 2:00pm
Fung Auditorium, Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall
Tejal Desai

Professor and Chair of Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences
University of California, San Francisco

Hierarchical Interfaces for Therapeutic Delivery


Efficient drug delivery remains an important challenge in medicine. Control of the temporal, spatial, and kinetic profile of drug delivery as well as improved ease of administration leading to increased patient compliance are some of the unmet needs of current drug administration. Recent advancements in the microelectronics industry have led to the creation of new nano- and fabrication methods which can be readily applied to biocompatible materials. These developments lay the groundwork for novel design possibilities that can be used for creating drug delivery devices with a high level of control at the molecular scale. In this talk, I will discuss how the ability to combine modular components and hierarchical length scales onto a single device can be useful for in vivo delivery. Examples include porous thin films to deliver cell-based and protein therapeutics as well as nanostructured devices for epithelial drug delivery and modulation of fibrosis.

By creating discrete micro and nanoscale features, one can begin to interact with cell and tissue surfaces in a manner previously unattainable. These subtle interactions can modulate properties such as tight junction permeability, cytoadhesion, and immune activation. By gaining a better understanding of how small scale topographies can influence the biological microenvironment. these structures can be harnessed for more efficient drug delivery. In the future, micro and nanostructured materials can add functionality to current drug delivery platforms while becoming an enabling technology leading to new basic discoveries in the pharmaceutical and biological sciences.


Professor Desai is also on the executive committee of the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research and the UCSF/UC Berkeley Graduate Group in Bioengineering, and faculty director of the UCSF/UC Berkeley Master’s in Translational Medicine. Prior to joining UCSF, she was an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University and Associate Director of the Center for Nanoscience and Nanobiotechnology at BU. She received the Sc.B. degree in Biomedical Engineering from Brown University (Providence, RI) in 1994 and the Ph.D. degree in bioengineering from the joint graduate program at University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, San Francisco, in 1998. Dr. Tejal Desai directs the Laboratory of Therapeutic Micro and Nanotechnology. Her research uses micro and nanofabrication techniques to create implantable biohybrid devices for cell encapsulation, targeted drug delivery, and templates for cell and tissue regeneration. In addition to authoring over 180 technical papers and delivering over 250 invited talks, she is presently a senior editor of Langmuir, Biomedical Microdevices, Nanomedicine, the IEEE EMBS Journal Reviews on Biomedical Engineering and the ASME Nanomedical Science and Engineering She is also co-editor of an encyclopedia on Therapeutic Microtechnology. She has chaired and organized numerousl conferences and symposia in the area of bioMEMS, bio-nanotechnology, and micro/nanoscale drug delivery/tissue engineering. Her other interests include K-12 educational outreach, gender and science education, science policy issues, and biotechnology/bioengineering industrial outreach. Dr. Desai's research efforts have earned her numerous awards, including the Dawson Award in Biotechnology in 2012 for educational and scientific leadership in the drug delivery field. She was a featured Innovator by Scientific American in 2013 and was elected Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) in 2014.