Penn Engineering and Medicine come together to lead the Center for Targeted Therapeutics and Translational Nanomedicine

Penn Engineering and Medicine come together to lead the Center for Targeted Therapeutics and Translational Nanomedicine

Kathleen Stebe

As nanotechnology opens up a world of devices and structures on the smallest possible scales, the potential for applying those advances to human health has drawn in researchers from a wide variety of disciplines. Designing a nanoparticle that delivers medicine just to cancerous cells, ignoring their healthy neighbors, requires insight from bioengineers, materials scientists, computer modelers, geneticists, oncologists, pharmacologists and more.

With this kind of interdisciplinary effort in mind, Penn Engineering has joined with the Perelman School of Medicine in The Center for Targeted Therapeutics and Translational Nanomedicine, or CT3N.

The center was originally established in 2010 with the support of the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics and the Clinical and Translational Research Award. This new level of collaboration brings together leading laboratories at the University of Pennsylvania, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and surrounding academic institutions.

Critically, it will help incubate the fundamental science and engineering concepts that will eventually become clinical applications. Through pilot grant programs, symposia and support for early-career researchers, the new CT3N will bring together the expertise needed to channel these projects through the pipeline from bench to bedside.

Kathleen Stebe

“The transformation of CT3N into a joint Penn Engineering/ Medicine center will draw more engineering faculty and students into the field,” says Kathleen Stebe, Chair of the CT3N Advisory Board and Richer & Elizabeth Goodwin Professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. “In synergy with researchers from PSOM, this new cohort will drive science and engineering breakthroughs to create the next generation of personalized therapeutics.”
Currently, CT3N includes 19 faculty members from Penn Engineering, in addition to Stebe, who is also Deputy Dean for Research and Innovation at Penn Engineering.

Kathleen Stebe

The center is now co-directed by Andrew Tsourkas, Professor of Bioengineering. His counterpart in Medicine is Vladimir Muzykantov, Professor of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics
and of Medicine.

“By joining CT3N, Engineering will transform the Center into an even more interdisciplinary endeavor, allowing discoveries in the fundamental sciences to be exploited for biomedical applications at a much earlier stage,” says Tsourkas.

Research areas currently being pursued by CT3N faculty include design of biomaterials and carriers for drug delivery; identification of molecular targets for cell-specific delivery; studies of targeting, binding, sub-cellular trafficking; and metabolism of targeted drugs.

To seed new collaborations along these lines — as well as investigations into brand-new ideas —CT3N will solicit proposals from interdisciplinary research teams. This Pilot Grant program is made possible by the generous support of the Brassington family, and funds from the Vice Provost for Research, Penn Engineering and the Perelman School of Medicine.

“The goal of these Pilot Grants is to support early-stage experimental preclinical studies in targeted therapeutics and thus assist investigators in obtaining key data to seek extramural funding,” Tsourkas says. “The grants will be for up to $50,000 for one year. Any Penn and CHOP researcher can apply, but will be required to become an active member of the CT3N.”

The deadline for grant proposals is December 2. More information can be found here.

The center’s first joint symposium will be held on December 6. It is open to the public, but advanced registration is required.