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Mark Kalinich"Designing experiments that tell you what you need to know is the biggest challenge, and the most enjoyable."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Kalinich, ChemE 13

 

Undergraduate Research: Better Medicine through Chemistry

In medicine, one promising new therapy – for diseases ranging from macular degeneration to spinal cord injury to cancer – involves using small interfering RNA to silence disease-causing genes. The trick is getting those nucleic acids to the right place. Chemical engineers such as Institute Professor Robert Langer and Daniel Anderson, associate professor of chemical engineering, are using macro- and nanoscale hydrogels as potential delivery vehicles.

As part of the research team in the Langer lab, Mark Kalinich works on varying the properties of an injectable hydrogel – ”kind of like a jello,” says Mark – to tune the timing of the release of the drugs into the spinal cord in a project focused on treating paralysis. Now he is working on invisibly small nanogels that designed to float through the bloodstream and deliver drugs into tumors. In this work, all still in vitro, he says, “designing experiments that tell you what you need to know is the biggest challenge, and the most enjoyable.”