Molecular Approaches to Vascular Health

Friday, June 9, 2017 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm
The FUNG Auditorium
Alyssa Panitch

Edward Teller Professor and Chair

Biomedical Engineering

University of California, Davis

Molecular Approaches to Vascular Health


Recently the Panitch laboratory has focused on the use of macromolecules to control inflammation and fibrosis with the goal of improving tissue healing and regeneration.  One area of research is the design and development of proteoglycan mimetics.  The proteoglycan mimetic technology brings a new way of thinking about drug development.  The mimetics are targeted through peptide binding to extracellular molecules.  By binding within the extracellular space, they alter the cellular environment, protect the matrix from proteolytic degradation and undesirable cellular interactions to generate a healthier context in which the cells can restore homeostasis or even regenerate tissue.  The laboratory has designed and evaluated molecules that pave the lumen of blood vessels to inhibit platelet binding and thrombosis, leukocyte binding and diapedesis and, neointimal hyperplasia following balloon angioplasty. The mimetics are designed with significant clinical input such that the output is a therapeutic that can be used in a manner consistent with current clinical practice.  In addition to modulating the cellular environment, the laboratory also focuses on the delivery of peptide therapeutics that suppress inflammation and fibrosis through direct inhibition of intercellular signaling cascades.  Together the technologies have broad impact on vascular healing.


Dr. Panitch received Bachelor’s degrees from Smith College in Biochemistry and from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in Chemical Engineering.  She completed her Ph.D. in Polymer Science and Engineering from the University of Massachusetts.  After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) and University of Zurich she accepted a position of Assistant Professor in the Harrington Department of Bioengineering at Arizona State University. In 2006 she joined the faculty in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and in 2013 was named the Leslie A. Geddes Professor of Biomedical Engineering. In January 2015 she accepted a position as Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at Purdue University.  Since June, 2016 she has served as the Edward Teller Professor and Chair of Biomedical Engineering at University of California Davis.   She is a member and Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineers and the National Academy of Inventors. 

Dr. Panitch specializes in biopolymer design and controlled release.  Her research interests include the design and synthesis of biomaterials for drug delivery and the development of biomimetic therapeutics for vascular, cartilage, dermal, neural and fibrotic diseases. She has co-found three companies based on technologies developed in her laboratory; the first company, AzERx, Inc. for which she serves as CAO/CSO, was acquired by Orthologic, Inc. (now Capstone Therapeutics).  The second company, Moerae Matrix, Inc., for which she serves as CSO, has raised over $17MM in private equity funding and has a peptide drug in clinical trials for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.  Her third company, Symic Biomedical has raised over $73MM in private and venture funding and has one therapeutic in Phase I/II trials for treatment of peripheral artery disease and a second in clinical trials for treatment of osteoarthritis.