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ChE Seminar – “Macromolecular Therapeutics and Delivery Agents” by James Hedrick

05/02/2017 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Host: Grant Willson


The targeting and controlled release of therapeutic agents or probe molecules to specific organs and specific cells in the body is one of the major challenges in developing more effective therapies.  Central to this goal are the many materials challenges associated with the encapsulation, transport and release of such agents at a specific time and place in the exceedingly complicated and dynamic environment of living organisms. Living organisms have evolved a variety of interfaces and barriers to control the trafficking of small and large molecules in and out of cells, organs and tissues.  Many pathologies are associated with the encapsulation, transport and release of foreign agents into healthy cells (viral and bacterial infections). An understanding of these processes is critical to the illumination of the molecular mechanism of disease, but also provides a guide to developing strategies to deliver therapeutic agents to specific cells and tissues. Nature’s ability to assemble macromolecules into highly cooperative and functional assemblies provides an inspiration for our efforts do devise synthetic design criteria to interrogate and exploit the relationship between molecular structure, non-covalent interactions and processing conditions to create new functional macromolecular assemblies.

Our program approaches a set of clustered problems of fundamental and therapeutic interest.   We have developed modular self-assembly strategies to investigate the use of non-covalent interactions to assemble multifunctional assemblies that can encapsulate small molecules and probes, and exhibit responsive behavior to external stimuli. In addition, we have focused on the use of macromolecules as therapeutic agents for antimicrobials, antivirals and chemotherapeutics.  The foundation for this platform is based on our organocatalytic approach to biocompatible/degradable macromolecules with precisely defined molecular weights, end-group fidelity and backbone functionality.


James Hedrick, IBM Almaden Research Center, spends a significant amount of time at IBM’s Yorktown Heights Research Facility as well as the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) in Singapore. Jim has pioneered new polymer-forming reactions for the creation of low k materials as high temperature interlayer dielectrics and for porous dielectrics and block copolymer lithography. Jim introduced the polymer science community to the concept of organic catalysis as an environmentally benign means to living polymerizations that enabled a broad range of new applications, namely for biomaterials in the area of nanomedicine. Jim now leads a new effort at IBM in collaboration with the IBN to solve critical problems in antimicrobial resistance, gene delivery, sustained therapeutic release and cancer therapies. He is the recipient of the ACS, Division of Polymer Chemistry, Carl S. Marvel Award, ACS, Division of Polymer Chemistry, Industrial Sponsors Award, European Polymer Chemistry Award, Cooperative Research Award in Polymer Science and Engineering with Robert Waymouth of Stanford (ACS PMSE Division), ACS Herman Mark Senior Chemistry award, President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Presidential Green Chemistry Award, Elected to the National Academy of Engineering, Appointed Distinguished Research Staff Member and Elected ACS, Division of Polymer Chemistry, Polymer Fellow. He has co-authored nearly 500 papers and has more than ~300 patents issued.


3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
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CPE 2.218
United States