M.G. Finn to Collaborate with Susan Thomas on $3.2 Million National Cancer Institute Grant for Follicular Lymphoma Research

May 13, 2020

This story initially appeared on the website of the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. Content has been modified for the College of Sciences website.

Susan N. Thomas, Woodruff Associate Professor in Georgia Tech's George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, has been awarded a five-year, $3.2 million dollar RO1 grant from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as PI. This project will support the collaborative team of Thomas with M.G. Finn, Chair of the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and who also serves as MPI on the grant, who have been working together for seven years on a multistage nanotechnology approach and platform to enable drug delivery to lymphatic tissues and lymph nodes to improve treatment of follicular lymphoma.

This work was originally supported in 2014 by a collaborative seed grant generously provided by the Parker H. Petit Institute of Bioengineering and Bioscience. The collaborative team has brought together expertise in biomaterials engineering, bioconjugate chemistry, drug delivery, and cancer therapy to innovate a new technology that they hope will help patients combat what is currently an incurable disease but also one whose available treatment options have many side effects, which this technology will seek to avoid and/or minimize.

“We are extremely grateful to the support from the NCI for this project," said Thomas. "It is an extremely rewarding and fruitful collaboration that leverages technologies and ideas the team has been working on for years. We can’t wait for the next chapter of this exciting project for the team."

Thomas joined Georgia Tech in November 2011 as an Assistant Professor. Prior to this appointment, she was a Whitaker postdoctoral scholar at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (one of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology) and received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering cum laude from the University of California Los Angeles and her Ph.D. in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Department as a NSF Graduate Research Fellow from The Johns Hopkins University. For her contributions to her field, she has been honored with the 2018 Young Investigator Award from the Society for Biomaterials for "outstanding achievements in the field of biomaterials research" and the 2013 Rita Schaffer Young Investigator Award from the Biomedical Engineering Society "in recognition of high level of originality and ingenuity in a scientific work in biomedical engineering." Her interdisciplinary research program is supported by multiple awards on which she serves as PI from the National Cancer Institute, the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, and the Susan G. Komen Foundation, amongst others.

Thomas’s research focuses on the role of biological transport phenomena in physiological and pathophysiological processes. Her laboratory specializes in incorporating designing biomaterials and biomicrofluidics to analyze metastatic cancer mechanisms and treat disease using immunotherapy.

M.G. Finn's expertise is in polymer chemistry and he serves as a member of the Center for Organic Photonics and Electronics (COPE). His current interests include the use of virus particles as molecular and catalytic building blocks for vaccine and functional materials development, the discovery and development of click reactions for organic and materials synthesis, polyvalent interactions in drug targeting, medicinal chemistry and drug delivery, and the use of evolution for the discovery of chemical function.

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Grace Pietkiewicz
Communications Assistant
College of Sciences