World in a Cell


Mark E. Davis

Chemical Engineering Professor, Nanomedicine Pioneer,
University of Southern California

Portrait photo: Mark E. Davis

Mark E. Davis is a renowned chemical engineering professor and nanomedicine pioneer at Caltech, who joined USC faculty in 2017. His work on biomaterials for cancer treatment holds great promise to make medicines more targeted and effective. Davis is selected to the National Academy of Engineering (1997), the National Academy of Sciences (2006) and the National Academy of Medicine (2011). His research efforts involve materials synthesis in two areas: zeolites and other solids that can be used for molecular recognition and catalysis, and polymers for the delivery of a broad range of therapeutics. He also conducts pioneering work on engineering nanoparticles for cancer therapeutics.

In addition to targeting disease, another important aspect of future treatment will be treating the effects of disease. One example is that diabetes often results in kidney scarring, so future treatments will include interventions to prevent or ameliorate these secondary effects.

I tend not to do drug discovery with mechanisms at the cellular level. My concern is to go after a target in a way that will not make the patient sick with side effects.

“By targeting and turning off the RNA that supports a cancer cell, you can turn a chemistry problem into an informatics problem.”

“In thinking forward, we would consider treating a lot of the symptoms of diabetes, such as kidney scarring.”