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SURF Mentoring

Potential projects/topics: The McHugh Lab focuses on developing drug delivery platforms and engineering tissues using customized polymers and advanced fabrication methods. We plan to host a SURF student in project areas involving controlled release to improve cancer immunotherapy response rates and modulating the immune response through spatiotemporal control of proteins and adjuvants. The student will specifically be involved in developing a novel drug capture platform to reduce immune-related adverse events resulting from cancer immunotherapies. The student will learn to fabricate biomaterials, functionalize cells, and modulate their behavior for therapeutic modalities.

Potential skills gained: Biomaterials synthesis, protein engineering, single-cell analysis, immune system profiling, in vivo work

Required qualifications: College-level cellular or molecular biology recommended

Direct mentor: Graduate Student (Emily Henrick)

Student Project Titles List

The Development of a Targeted Delivery System of Corticosteroids to the Gut using Corticosteroid-containing Prodrugs tethered to Commensal Gut Bacteria

Research Areas

We are broadly interested in applying highly controlled fabrication methods to solve a variety of issues in drug deliver. In particular, we seek to direct the immune response using spatial and temporal control of biologics to overcome challenges in cancer and infectious disease. However, we are also working on highly predictable release platforms that can be used to increase drug efficacy, reduce off-target toxicity, and improve patient compliance. Although checkpoint blockade has proven extremely effective in some patients, its application is limited to a particular subset of the population who retains an immune-active tumor microenvironment. Our cancer efforts seek to develop microparticles that can be injected into the tumor to provide prolonged release of therapeutics that reestablish an immune-active environment and thereby increase the number of patients that can be effectively treated using cancer immunotherapy. Infectious disease occurs predominantly in low-resource settings where healthcare access is poor. This project aims to develop timed- and targeted-release systems that fit within the current clinical framework in the developing world (i.e. low cost and simple to administer) to reduce deaths due to infectious disease. By delivering antigens and adjuvants at the optimal times and locations, these microdevices have the potential to truncate vaccination schedules, improve vaccine efficacy, reduce the need for cold chain storage and achieve dose sparing.