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Research Highlight: Wei He

Wei He, a joint assistant professor in the Departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering, is carrying out exciting engineering research on materials-enabled interventions to tackle challenging medical problems.

He’s doctorate is in chemistry, but her research has progressed from chemistry to engineering materials to biomedical science. She says that for her, studying how materials interface with cells is the best of both worlds. One such example in He’s research involves the tiny sensors implanted in the human body for an array of medical problems. Once implanted, the body tries to “heal” the sensor by surrounding it with scar tissue.

He’s research is attempting to extend the life of these implanted sensors. By understanding the biology behind the body’s actions in walling off implants with restorative intentions, He and her team are developing smarter and more effective strategies to ease the body’s hostile rejection. Their latest approach is to release therapeutic drugs, orchestrated by the body, around the implant to curb the adverse biological events. She is working to create polymers that will carry an anti-inflammatory drug or an antioxidant to keep scar tissue from forming and keep the sensor working. Supported by a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, He is hopeful that this research will enable us better manage the host response for our benefit and maximize the longevity of implantable medical devices.

He received her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Tianjin University (China) in 1998 and her PhD in Chemistry in 2003 from the University of Connecticut, followed by postdoctoral research at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Washington.

Selected publications:
Y. Cao, W. He*
Synthesis and characterization of glucocorticoid functionalized poly(N-vinyl pyrrolidone): a versatile prodrug for neural interface
Biomacromolecules, 2010, 11, 1298-1307.

Y. Cao, W. He*
Water soluble antioxidant derivative poly(triethylene glycol methyl acrylate-co-α-tocopheryl acrylate) as a potential prodrug to enable localized neuroprotection
Acta Biomaterialia, 2013, 9, 4558-4568.

S. Tang, Z. Shi, Y. Cao, W. He*
Facile aqueous-phase synthesis of multi-responsive nanogels based on polyetheramines and bisepoxide
Journal of Materials Chemistry, 2013, 1, 1628-1634.

He’s home page: