Abstract. Structural complexities of ceramics are the key to explaining their display of a broad range of interesting properties, yet the control of these complexities has not been harnessed to the fullest extent and translated to the medical domain. In the first part of the lecture I will talk about our work on calcium phosphate nanoparticles and the control of their physical and chemical properties to yield new properties relevant for various biomedical applications, ranging from tunable drug delivery kinetics to gene delivery to cancer cell targeting to intrinsic antibacterial activity. This will be placed in the context of an ongoing effort in my lab to expand the application repertoire of calcium phosphate nanoparticles beyond their traditional use as components that impart osteoconductivity and high compressive strength to tissue engineering constructs. In the second part of the lecture I will talk about our work on the use of composite nanoparticles modeled after the stratified structure of the planet Earth for permeation of the blood-brain barrier and brain tumor targeting.
Biography: Vuk Uskoković is an assistant professor of bioengineering at the University of Illinois in Chicago and of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences at Chapman University in Orange County, California. He is the director of Advanced Materials and Nanobiotechnology Laboratory whose goal is the development of nanotechnological innovations in the field of biomedicine. Bridging the gap between materials science and life science, the lab specializes in synthesis, characterization and biological testing of materials for the next generation of medical devices. The most influential work to have emerged from it pertains to the use of calcium phosphate nanoparticles for advanced drug and gene delivery applications. Other materials, including magnetic nanocomposites and carbon-based materials, are also engineered and their interface with the biological systems probed, all with the goal of creating clinically effective therapeutics and diagnostics. Socially responsible materials together with in vitro biological assays that substitute for animal testing present an important aspect of research done in the Uskoković Lab. This social responsibility also comes into play through seeing the lab as an incubator capable of creating high-skilled jobs for knowledge-based economy.