Professor Needham also holds appointments as Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering; Associate Professor, Center for Bioinspired materials and material Systems, and the Center for Biomolecular and Tissue Engineering; and Associate Professor, Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Needham's Lab uses a platform technology of micropipette manipulation to manipulate single and pairs of micro particles in order to assess their behavior in well defined fluids and excipient concentrations. He brings a wealth of expertise in micromanipulation, colloid stability, and drug delivery formulation.
Dr. Needham's research program combines the fields of Materials Science with Colloid and Surface Chemistry focusing on "Biological and other Soft Wet Materials."
The program is in the general area of forming, coating and encapsulation of solid, liquid and gaseous particles in the colloidal size range (10 nanometers to 10 micrometers). It deals more specifically with the material properties of 2-phase micro and nanosystems, such as surfactants, lipid monolayers, lipid bilayer membranes, micelles, liposomes, hydrogels, wax particles, emulsions, microdroplets, gas bubbles, microcrystals, microglasses, polymer microspheres, and blood and cancer cells.
It is also concerned with the adhesion and repulsion between particle surfaces involving molecular structures at interfaces including repulsive interactions due to the presence of grafted water-soluble polymers and specific interactions between receptors-ligand pairs. Such materials property measurements and inter particle interactions require specialized experimental equipment and the principal experimental approach is that of micropipet manipulation, to manipulate individual and pairs of micro particles and cells in controlled solution environments.
Previous NIH/NCI research grants, focused on experiments and theory concerning:
- Molecular exchange and defect formation in lipid vesicle membranes, (specifically involving the partitioning of amphipathic molecules like surfactants, drugs, pH sensitive polymers, and fusogenic peptides); and
- Novel thermally sensitive drug delivery system for treatment of solid tumors.
Research topics currently under investigation include: lipid and surfactant monolayers at gas bubble, and liquid emulsion surfaces; diffusion-solubility, crystallization and solidification of polymers, lipids, proteins, inorganic crystals and drugs from 2 phase Microsystems, including degradable PLGA polymer microspheres.
The latter is currently funded through an NIH grant entitled, "Microsphere Engineering for Proteins as Drugs". Particular applications of these materials and materials processing concepts are in drug delivery, specifically, the temperature-triggered drug release in solid tumors, and lately formulations of more hydrophobic drugs as emulsions and of proteins in polymer microspheres. Information gained in this work is directed towards, for example, improved image contrast agents, drug delivery systems that use lipids and polymers to create micro- and nano-capsules and monolayer coatings.
The Temperature-sensitive liposome systems are being tested pre-clinically and now clinically with collaborators in the Duke Medical Center, specifically with Dr. Mark Dewhirst in Radiation Oncology. New research is focusing on organic-inorganic nano composites derived from simple surfactants, and new bilayer model systems for studying and using single protein channel activity with Collaborators at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.
Education and Training
- Nottingham Trent University, B.S. 1975
- University of Nottingham, Ph.D. 1981
Selected Grants and Awards
- TRP and AQP Channels: Modulation of Function, Raft Location by Membrane Lipids
- PLGA Protein Microspheres: Single Particle Engineering
- Faculty Development Workshop: "Course Enhancement Projects" Across the Pratt Curriculum
- Integrating Nanoscale Systems and Design into the Undergraduate Engineering and Science Curricula
- Training in Biomolecular and Tissue Engineering
- Ultra High-speed Imaging System
- Graduate training in Biologically Inspired Materials
- Thermally Sensitive Drug Delivery System for Tumors
- Molecular Exchange with Lipid Membranes
- Engineering Biology at the Nanoscale
- Upgrade of a Shared Instrumentation Resource in the PSOE: The Laser Scanning Confocal Microscope
- Development and Construction of Single Molecule Spectrometers for Research and Student Training
- (95-0189) Molecular Forces in Blood-vasular Cell Interaction
- (96-0807) Molecular Forces in Blood/Vascular Cell Adhesion
- (97-0846) Molecular Forces in Blood/Vascular Cell Adhesion
- (98-0573) Molecular Exchange and Defect Formation in Membranes
- Particle Size Measurement: Instrumentation Grant
- (94-1004) Molecular Exchange and Defect Formation in Membranes
- (96-0604) Molecular Exchange and Defect Formation in Membranes
- (97-0628) Molecular Exchange and Defect Formation in Membranes
- (97-0933) ME265.03 Biological Materials Sci; Curriculum Development & Textbook...
- (93-0137) Viscoelasticity of Blood Cells
- (95-0153) Viscoelasticity of Blood Cells
- (93-0073) Biorheology of Hybridomas and Cell Damage
- (87-0337) Electropermeabilization/Fusion of Liquid Vesicles and Cells
- (90-0151) Electropermeabilitization/ Fusion of Lipid Vesicles and Cells
- (91-0232) Electropermeabilization/Fusion of Lipid Vesicles and Cells
- (92-0207) Electropermeabilization/Fusion of Lipid Vesicles & Cells
- (93-0180) Electropermeabilization/Fusion of Lipid Vesicles and Cells
- (91-0174) Biorheology of Hybridomas and Cell Damage