476124 Characterization of Polymer Particles in Biological Environments for Drug Delivery Applications

Sunday, November 13, 2016
Continental 4 & 5 (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
Kathleen McEnnis, Chemical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Research Interests:

Vehicles for drug delivery are an ideal treatment solution for many diseases, including cancer, where the dosage of drugs is limited by toxic side effects. Creating a successful drug delivery system is difficult, however, and despite much research effort in this field, there are very few examples of drug delivery systems being used in current therapies. This lack of success stems from a limited understanding of how drug delivery vehicles interact with the biological environment and leads to poor design of the drug delivery systems. I intend to establish a research group to investigate the interaction of drug delivery vehicles with the biological environment (such as cells, blood, and proteins) using physical chemistry techniques (such as light scattering and calorimetry) in novel ways. My background in drug delivery and polymer physics will allow my lab to address issues with drug delivery vehicles in unique ways. This work can lead to successful drug delivery vehicles and a better understanding of how materials interact with the biological environment.

Education & Training

2013 – Present Postdoctoral Researcher, Chemical Eng., Biointerfaces Institute, University of Michigan

Advisor: Joerg Lahann

Project: Electrohydrodynamic co-jetting of polymer particles for targeted drug delivery applications

2007 – 2013 Ph.D. in Polymer Science and Engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Thesis Advisor: Thomas P. Russell

Thesis Title: Particle behavior at anisotropically curved liquid interfaces

2008 M.S. in Polymer Science and Engineering, UMass Amherst

2003 – 2007 B.S. in Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Research Advisor: Paula T. Hammond

Project: Layer-by-layer polymer electrolytes for lithium batteries


Fellowships and Awards

Best TA for ‘Polymer Characterization’ at UMass Amherst as voted by students, Dec 2010

International Center for Materials Research International Research Fellowship, Nov 2009

Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Fellowship, Sept 2007 – Aug 2008


Current Research

My current research focuses on electrohydrodynamic co-jetting of polymer nanoparticles to target breast cancer stem cells. By surface modifying the particles with antibodies and incubating the particles with a breast cancer cell line, I have observed an increase in the uptake of the nanoparticles by the cancer stem cells using flow cytometry. The breast cancer cells are a rare population (typically less than 1% of the total population) and very difficult to target, yet an important target for cancer treatment.

Another thrust of my current research is the development of a method for analyzing particle behavior in complex solutions such as blood plasma. By using nanoparticle tracking analysis I have quantified the aggregation of nanoparticles in blood plasma. This method will allow for more thorough testing of particles in vitroand allow for better design of drug delivery vehicles.

Teaching Interests:

I am interested in teaching core classes as well as developing more advanced courses about polymers, such as Advanced Polymer Physics and Characterization. I have guest lectured in some graduate level classes at the University of Michigan, and was a TA several times at UMass Amherst (voted best TA for the class in 2010). I have taken several classes on teaching at the college level and I have mentored 12 students (undergraduate, high school, and masters) on research projects in the lab. I have also been involved in many outreach activities involving teaching. For instance, I taught chemistry to blind high school students at a summer camp where I had to tailor my teaching to address non-visual learning styles. The blind student summer camp also gave me much experience in accommodating lessons for those with disabilities as I had to adapt the experiments for blind students. Some of these adapted lessons were published in the Journal of Chemical Education in 2009.


McEnnis, K.; LaPres, C.; Santos Moreira, A.; Burkland, D.; Lahann, J.; Characterization of Nanoparticle Aggregation in Biologically Relevant Fluids. In preparation.

McEnnis, K.; Dinsmore, A. D.; Russell, T. P. Solid Particles Adsorbed on Capillary-Bridge-Shaped Fluid Polystyrene Surfaces. Langmuir. 201531, 5299−5305.

Lutkenhaus, J. L.; McEnnis, K.; Serghei, A.; Russell, T.P. Confinement Effects on Crystallization and Curie Transitions of Poly(vinylidene fluoride-co-trifluoroethylene). Macromolecules. 2010, 43, (8), 3844-3850.

Serghei, A.; Lutkenhaus, J. L.; Miranda, D. F.; McEnnis, K.; Kremer, F.; Russell, T. P. Density Fluctuations and Phase Transitions of Ferroelectric Polymer Nanowires. Small. 2010, 6, (16), 1822-1826.

Supalo, C. A.; Mallouk, T. E.; Amorosi, C.; Lanouette, J.; Wohlers H. D.; McEnnis, K. Using Adaptive Tools and Techniques to Teach a Class of Students Who are Blind or Low-Vision. Journal of Chemical Education. 2009, 86, (5), 587-591.

Lutkenhaus, J. L.; McEnnis, K.; Hammond, P.T. Nano- and Microporous Layer-by-Layer Assemblies Containing Linear Poly(ethylenimine) and Poly(acrylic acid). Macromolecules. 2008, 41, (16), 6047-6054.

Lutkenhaus, J. L.; McEnnis, K.; Hammond, P. T. The Glass Transition and Ionic Conductivity of Poly(ethylene oxide)/Poly(acrylic acid) Layer-by-Layer Assemblies. Macromolecules. 2007, 40, (23), 8367-8373.

Lutkenhaus, J. L.; Hrabak, K. D.; McEnnis, K.; Hammond, P. T. Elastomeric Flexible Free-Standing Hydrogen-Bonded Nanoscale Assemblies. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 2005, 127, (49), 17228-17234.


McEnnis, K.; Lahann, J. Nanoparticles for Targeted Drug Delivery. Invited review article in preparation for Journal of Materials Chemistry B.

Extended Abstract: File Uploaded