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A Collaborative and Interdisciplinary Course in Drug Delivery Systems

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Novel Pedagogical Techniques II: Potpourri

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Miriam R. Wattenbarger University of Pennsylvania

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Dr. Miriam Wattenbarger is a senior lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania. She teaches biotechnology and biochemical engineering courses and labs, and co-directs a drug delivery systems course with faculty from the engineering and medical school. Miriam is also very interested in community STEM outreach to students and developing community service learning programs for undergraduate students.

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Interdisciplinary research (IDR) and collaboration between academic departments is widely supported by national professional organizations, funding organizations and academic institutions.1,2,3 Collaborations between medicine, engineering, chemistry and biology are essential to develop new drug delivery systems to address complex medical problems. For example, improving spatiotemporal control of pharmacological agent activity will enable new treatments of many maladies. The immediate goals in this field include the design and translation of agents to the clinic capable of safe permeation of biological barriers and targeted delivery to intended therapeutic sites at sub-cellular precision level on the scale of nanometers and molecules.

The Center for Targeted Therapeutics and Translational Nanomedicine (CT3N) supports faculty, researchers, graduate students and post-doctoral scholars from the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) and the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) and brings together researchers from the University of Pennsylvania (UPENN), Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, and other local institutions. The goal of the Center is to bring more faculty and students together to develop novel therapeutics that can be translated to the clinic. To train students on current methods and research in drug delivery for academic or industrial careers, we have developed a new course on drug delivery systems (DDS) for juniors, seniors and graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania.

The course is taught by engineering and medical school faculty for students in engineering, chemistry, pharmacology and other biomedical science programs. The students enrolled in the class reflect the range of expertise of engineers and scientists working on drug delivery projects in academia and industry. Faculty and industrial speakers involved in drug delivery research present lectures in their field of expertise.

The class is divided into four main sections: 1) drug distribution and delivery in the body and drug interactions with the body: challenges and specific aspects of biotherapeutics; 2) drug delivery systems and nanocarriers; 3) targeted and smart DDS; cellular delivery; and 4) translational aspects of DDS. The main project for the class is a group assignment for a proposal on a new drug delivery system. The students read current journal articles on drug delivery systems and discuss their ideas with classmates and faculty. The groups submit several versions of their proposal, and the second draft is read by several groups in a peer review process similar to an NIH or NSF grant review process. The peer review process is very beneficial process for the students as they realize the need to clearly communicate their ideas.

The principles and structure of the course can be applied to other research areas where faculty and student research interests span departments and schools to enhance interdisciplinary research and training of students.

Wattenbarger, M. R. (2017, June), A Collaborative and Interdisciplinary Course in Drug Delivery Systems Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27450

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