Fighting Cancer with Nanoparticle Medicines

Friday, February 18, 2011 - 11:00 p.m. to Saturday, February 19, 2011 - 12:00 a.m.
DBH 1100

ChEMS Seminar

Featuring Mark E. Davis, Ph.D.

Chemical Engineering

California Institute of Technology, Pasadena


For centuries, cancer has been one of the most devastating diseases. Papyrus writings from 1600-1500 BC describe cancer and attempts at its treatment. Today, the molecular basis of cancer is being unraveled, and new therapeutics are being developed to take advantage of this new knowledge. One class of experimental therapeutics involves the use of nanoparticles. Given the long history of difficulties in developing cancer therapies, why is there excitement about nanoparticle medicine (nanomedicines) for fighting cancer? Is it warranted or is it hype? In this lecture, I will present the current understandings of why nanoparticle medicines have the potential to provide “game changing” ways to treat cancer. I will illustrate the various features and potentials of nanoparticle medicines using two different nanoparticles that we have translated from laboratory curiosities to experimental therapeutics in human clinical trials.

About the Speaker:

Mark E. Davis is the Warren and Katharine Schlinger Professor of Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology and a member of the Experimental Therapeutics Program of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the City of Hope. He has over 375 scientific publications, two textbooks and over 50 patents. Professor Davis is a founding editor of CaTTech and has been an associate editor of Chemistry of Materials and the AIChE Journal. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Colburn and Professional Progress Awards from the AIChE and the Ipatieff, Langmuir, Murphree and Gaden Prizes from the ACS. Professor Davis was the first engineer to win the NSF Alan T. Waterman Award. He was elected in the National Academy of Engineering in 1997 and the National Academy of Sciences in 2006. Professor Davis’ research efforts involve materials synthesis in two general areas; namely, zeolites and other solids that can be used for molecular recognition and catalysis, and polymers for the delivery of a broad range of therapeutics. He is the founder of Insert Therapeutics Inc., a company that was focused on the use of cyclodextrin-containing polymers for drug delivery applications and Calando Pharmaceuticals, Inc. a company that created the first RNAi therapeutic to reach the clinic for treating cancer. He has been a member of the scientific advisory boards of Symyx (Nasdaq: SMMX) and Alnylam (Nasdaq: ALNY). Professor Davis has achieved All American Status for Masters Track and Field in both the 400 Meter and 200 Meter Dashes.