Samir Mitragotri, a leading chemical- and bio-engineer who develops new techniques and materials for treating conditions such as diabetes, cancer and bleeding disorders, will join the faculty of the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). He is currently the Mellichamp Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he is the founding director of the Center for Bioengineering.

Mitragotri will join SEAS in July as the Hiller Professor of Bioengineering and Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering. He will also be a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard.

In modern medical practice, needles and syringes are the most common way of administering macromolecular drugs. Mitragotri has developed pioneering technologies to noninvasively deliver medicines using skin patches. Skin is a tough barrier; its purpose is to prevent drug transport rather than facilitate it. Mitragotri conducted pioneering research on skin’s barrier function and developed techniques to successfully overcome it to allow delivery of biopharmaceutical drugs.

Mitragotri has also developed nanoparticles that can target tumors for the treatment of cancer, materials that can deliver proteins orally for diabetes, and synthetic analogs of blood components that can deliver medicines for bleeding disorders. Several of his inventions have been translated into clinical products.

“I am excited to join SEAS. Its interdisciplinary scholarly community offers outstanding opportunities to advance bioengineering research and education,” Mitragotri said. “I am also looking forward to closely interacting with the communities at Harvard Medical School and the Wyss Institute to accelerate clinical and commercial translation of research.”

Frank Doyle, the John A. Paulson Dean of SEAS, said: “Samir will bring a unique combination of experiences – bioengineering research, university leadership, and entrepreneurial activities – which will accelerate our strategic partnerships with Harvard Business School and Harvard Medical School.”

Mitragotri’s research also emphasizes understanding transport processes of biomolecules across biological barriers. 

“Fundamental understanding of biological barriers empowers us to develop knowledge-driven technologies to overcome them. We can’t fix what we don’t understand,” Mitragotri said.

Mitragotri received his undergraduate degree from the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai and Ph.D. from MIT under the mentorship of Professors Robert Langer and Daniel Blankschtein.

He is the author of more than 210 publications in the area of drug delivery and biomaterials, has given close to 500 invited and contributed presentations worldwide, and is an inventor on more than 150 pending or issued patents. He is a co-founder of several companies that are developing therapeutic or diagnostic products based on his inventions.

Mitragotri is an elected member of the National Academies of Engineering and Medicine, and elected fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Inventors, the Controlled Release Society, the Biomedical Engineering Society, and the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists. He is a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher. He serves on the editorial boards of several journals and currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of Bioengineering and Translational Medicine.