MSE Seminar: “Smart Biomaterials for Treatment and Detection of Bacterial and Fungal Infections”


3:00 pm-4:00 pm
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Anita Shukla, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Engineering
Brown University

A 2019 United Nations report warned of the catastrophic health and economic toll of failing to address rising antimicrobial resistance. Less than a decade ago, the World Health Organization warned of a “post-antibiotic era” in which common infections are lethal due to rising antimicrobial resistance, and it is now widely accepted that we are in this era. Microbes inherently evolve resistance mechanisms over time, the rates of which can be exacerbated by frequent use of broad-spectrum antimicrobials and prolonged exposure. Compounding this issue is the lack of discovery of new antimicrobial agents. In this talk, I will describe our recent work on developing smart materials, which may effectively treat microbial infections while potentially reducing development of resistance. These materials range from nanoparticles to surface coatings and hydrogels for the treatment of localized and systemic infections. I will focus on the highly tunable synthetic and natural polymer-based hydrogels and films we have reported for the encapsulation and release of antibiotics and antifungals in response to microbial infections. These materials exhibit a variety of drug release behaviors and have demonstrated promising antimicrobial efficacy. I will also describe some of our work on using biomaterials approaches to detecting microbial infections including stimuli-responsive color changing molecules.

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Materials Science & Engineering Dept.