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BIO: Dr. Jeannine M. Coburn is an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Her group’s research interests are in developing novel functional biomaterials for biomedical applications. Her group uses silk, chondroitin sulfate, bacterial-derived cellulose, and decellularized plant cell matrices as the scaffolding “blocks” for the biomaterials and utilized basic chemistry principles and techniques from synthetic chemistry and genetic engineering to impart unique material properties. Her research is highly collaborative in nature; she works with other scientist, engineers, and clinicians to address medical needs relevant to drug therapeutics, tissue engineering, and in the vitro disease model.

Dr. Coburn received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and her Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Johns Hopkins University under the mentorship of Dr. Jennifer H. Elisseeff. After completing her Ph.D., she did her postdoctoral training under the mentorship of Dr. David L. Kaplan at Tufts University. She was a recipient of the predoctoral (2010-2012) and postdoctoral (2014-2016) Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Fellowship. Her research is currently funded by the DoD and NIH.

Dr. Jeannine Coburn, Ph.D. is an assistant professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute working on the development of biomaterials for a number of biomedical applications, including drug delivery, tissue regeneration, and in vitro disease modelling. A primary focus of her lab is on developing a biomaterial that could aid in the local treatment of cancerous tumors. By developing a biomaterial that would wrap around a drug that would otherwise be delivered systemically, high concentrations of drugs can be delivered directly into tumors. The result is twofold: more effective targeting and attack of cancerous tumors, and reduction of secondary toxicity associated with chemotherapy.

Dr. Coburn discusses at length the process of developing this type of drug delivery system, the challenges it poses, and the ongoing work her team is doing to make it happen. She also speaks more broadly about the sources of the materials being manipulated in her lab for biomedical applications, the body’s immune and inflammatory responses, and in vitro modelling of immune recognition in order to study the drugs being used in the immunotherapeutic treatment of cancer.

Tune in for the full conversation and email your questions to Dr. Coburn directly at
Follow twitter: @FuncBioMatLab

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