Nan Wu: Developing the future of drug delivery

Nan Wu, PhD student, Chemical Engineering

Her dad was an engineer working with an oil company, and when Nan Wu was a kid, he took her to the factory. She learned how the place worked, and that she wanted to be an engineer, too. But she knew she wanted to work with a different material.

Today, Wu works with Kelly Schultz, an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and focuses on developing novel techniques to understand how hydrogels degrade in response to biologically relevant stimuli.

“Our work is looking at how to design these biomaterials as vehicles for controlled, sustained release of drug molecules to the target,” she says.

Essentially, ensuring that molecules get delivered to the right place, at the right time, with the right amount of the drug. Such efficient delivery could lower the dosage or frequency of meds or injections, she says.

To date, Wu is the author of four papers, one of which was recently featured on the inside front cover of Soft Matter. She plans to go into industry and continue working toward drug delivery technology commercialization.

“To me, the most exciting thing about this research is that I can see how we can bring science to real treatment,” she says. “Novel drug delivery technology development is urgent, and can help with a range of serious diseases, and potentially give patients options.”

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This profile is part of Resolve Magazine's Soaring Together series.

Photography by Douglas Benedict/Academic Image