Office: 2110 Hahn Hall South
Office of the Dean
North End Center (0405)
Suite 4300, 300 Turner Street NW
Blacksburg, VA 24061
COS Webpage (Link)
BS St. Bonaventure University, 1983
PhD Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1987
Advanced Research Scientist, Eastman Kodak, 1987-1990
Senior Research Scientist, Eastman Kodak, 1990-1993
Senior Research Chemistry, Eastman Chemical, 1993-1994
Principal Research Scientist, Eastman Chemical, 1994-1998
Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Virginia Tech, 1998-2001
Associate Professor of Chemistry, Virginia Tech, 2001-2003
Professor of Chemistry, Virginia Tech, 2003-present
Associate Director, Fralin Life Science Institute, Virginia Tech, 2009-present
Honors and Awards:
Chair, 2009 Polymers (East) Gordon Research Conference, 2009
Invited Wake Forest University, Affiliated Professor of the WFIRM Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, 2008
Chair-elect, 2012 Polycondensation Conference, Symposium Co-chair, 2012 IUPAC World Polymer Congress, 2008
IRTF Interdisiplinary Research Team Fellowship Award, with Profs. Duncan and Thatcher
Collano Innovation Award, Lucerne, Switzerland, 2006
Chair-elect, 2009 Polymers (East) Gordon Research Conference, 2005
Chair, ACS Division of Polymer Chemistry, 2005
Faculty Research Award, Department of Chemistry, 2003
Panhellenic Council of Virginia Tech Certificate of Appreciation for Teaching Excellence, 2003
Top Oral Presentation, ASI USER FORUM, 2002
ACS, Division of Polymer Chemistry, Chair-elect, 2002-2005
IBM Faculty Award, 2002
3M Company Faculty Award, 2000-2001
Macromolecular Secretariat, 2000
Sigma Xi, Professional Fraternity Elected Full Member at VA Tech, 1999
Faculty Signature Award, GenCorp Co. (OMNOVA), Akron, OH, 1999
IUPAC Young Observer. Representing USA at IUPAC 1999 in Berlin, FRG. Sponsored by the National Research Council, 1999
National Technical Programming Co-chairperson. American Chemical Society Division of Polymer Chemistry, 1994-1997
Our research goal is to integrate fundamental research in novel macromolecular structure and polymerization processes with the development of high performance macromolecules for advanced technologies. Our research platforms focus on the design, performance, and societal implications of novel biomaterials for the following global impact: (1) gene/drug delivery, (2) tissue regeneration, and (3) biomedical devices. Our hypothesis states that biomaterial design involves fundamental and common structural parameters for performance and that the integration of biomaterials in various biological environments will involve common interfacial and performance challenges.
The development of efficient, nontoxic materials for the delivery of therapeutic nucleic acids and drugs is a fundamental and important problem in biotechnology research. For example, while many drugs are available to control cardiovascular disease (a leading global health problem), drug toxicity and lack of specificity leads to serious side effects. Delivery vehicles have the potential to minimize side effects while maximizing medicinal efficacy, yet fundamental studies on biomaterials-based delivery systems are severely lacking. Our research team focuses on the development and study of water-soluble polycations, particularly segmented block copolymer structures, for the binding, encapsulation, and delivery of anionic drugs and nucleic acids into cultured cells. We are currently examining structure-property effects of incorporating different cationic groups into these structures such as histidine-mimics and quaternary ammonium and phosphonium groups, and investigate the influence of nucleobase substitution in vector design, which may lead to novel binding strategies.
The tissue regeneration biotechnology seeks to replace failing organs, as opposed to treating the symptoms of underlying disease, functional restoration, improving quality of life. Our research builds on the discovery in the Long laboratories to fabricate nanometer-scale scaffolds based on nature-derived phospholipids and new families of photo-reactive amphiphiles.
Novel biomaterials that can transform the functionality and efficacy of medical devices and offer sustainable treatments with reduced cost are sought throughout the world to improve the quality of life. Recent efforts in our laboratories are focused on biomaterials for stents for sensing force needed to employ a device and also the incidence of tissue re-growth near the device interface with biological structure (Vlachos, Long) and biomaterial alternatives to acid-generation during polylactide absorption. Research efforts are proposed based on the synthesis and characterization of charged polyurethanes for subsequent performance as an elastomeric electromechanical transducer.
In addition to macromolecular chemistry and engineering at the interface with biology, our research group also addresses fundamental questions involving ionic liquids, charged polymers for electroactive devices, fuel cell membranes, novel adhesives, block copolymer elastomers, high impact engineering thermoplastics, and responsive polymer compositions based on tailored hydrogen bonding and electrostatic interactions. Recent efforts in self-healing compositions offer promise for novel families of cationic polymers.