Ph.D. Chemical Engineering
B.S. in Chemical Engineering, Stanford University, 2011
Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, 2018
Many diseases of the brain are protected from therapy by an intact blood-brain barrier (BBB) – a highly selective membrane that separates the brain parenchyma from circulation and excludes nearly all therapeutic agents administered systemically. This is especially true for neurodegenerative diseases, as well as primary brain cancers and brain metastases of other cancers in their earliest stages, when one may expect to have the greatest chance of effective treatment. To treat intracranial disease, we have explored a number of designs for creating targeted nanoparticles that are able to cross an intact BBB. With each approach has come greater understanding of the properties and design rules governing the nanoparticles’ ability to reach the brain in therapeutic quantities. My research and our latest design exploits nanoparticle responses during the acidification of BBB-transcytosing vesicles to increase brain accumulation of nanoparticle therapeutics that are dosed systemically. To complement efforts in designing effective nanoparticle therapeutics, I am also developing new preclinical animal models where the integrity of the BBB is retained. This enables measurement of both antitumor activity as well as intracranial drug delivery efficiency of our therapeutics in vivo, both of which are critical for clinical translation. In addition, I use a variety of imaging methods, e.g. MRI and CLARITY, to assess tumor biology and therapeutic efficacy.