Paula Hammond, Ph.D.

AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 2010
For outstanding contributions to the design of novel biomaterials and carriers for drug delivery.

How different cancer cells respond to drug-delivering nanoparticles

Via MIT | July 21, 2022

The findings of a large-scale screen could help researchers design nanoparticles that target specific types of cancer.

Using nanoparticles to deliver cancer drugs offers a way to hit tumors with large doses of drugs while avoiding the harmful side effects that often come with chemotherapy. However, so far, only a handful of nanoparticle-based cancer drugs have been FDA-approved.

A new study from MIT and Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard researchers may help to overcome some of the obstacles to the development of nanoparticle-based drugs. The team’s analysis of the interactions between 35 different types of nanoparticles and nearly 500 types of cancer cells revealed thousands of biological traits that influence whether those cells take up different types of nanoparticles… Continue reading.

Engineers develop nanoparticles that cross the blood-brain barrier

Via MIT | June 1, 2022

There are currently few good treatment options for glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer with a high fatality rate. One reason that the disease is so difficult to treat is that most chemotherapy drugs can’t penetrate the blood vessels that surround the brain.

A team of MIT researchers is now developing drug-carrying nanoparticles that appear to get into the brain more efficiently than drugs given on their own. Using a human tissue model they designed, which accurately replicates the blood-brain barrier, the researchers showed that the particles could get into tumors and kill glioblastoma cells… Continue reading.

Size matters in particle treatments of traumatic injuries

Via MIT | February 16, 2022

Traumatic injuries are the leading cause of death in the U.S. among people 45 and under, and such injuries account for more than 3 million deaths per year worldwide. To reduce the death toll of such injuries, many researchers are working on injectable nanoparticles that can home in on the site of an internal injury and attract cells that help to stop the bleeding until the patient can reach a hospital for further treatment.

While some of these particles have shown promise in animal studies, none have been tested in human patients yet. One reason for that is a lack of information regarding the mechanism of action and potential safety of such particles. To shed more light on those factors, MIT chemical engineers have now performed the first systematic study of how different-sized polymer nanoparticles circulate in the body and interact with platelets, the cells that promote blood clotting… Continue reading.

Institute Professor Paula Hammond named to White House science council

Via MIT | September 22, 2021

Paula Hammond, an MIT Institute Professor and head of MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering, has been chosen to serve on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), the White House announced today.

The council advises the president on matters involving science, technology, education, and innovation policy. It also provides the White House with scientific and technical information that is needed to inform public policy relating to the U.S. economy, U.S. workers, and national security… Continue reading.

Paula Hammond elected to the National Academy of Sciences for 2019

Via MIT | May 1, 2019

Three MIT professors — Edward Boyden, Paula Hammond, and Aviv Regev — are among the 100 new members and 25 foreign associates elected to the National Academy of Sciences on April 30. Forty percent of the newly elected members are women, the most ever elected in any one year to date.

Membership to the National Academy of Sciences is considered one of the highest honors that a scientist or engineer can receive. Current membership totals approximately 2,380 members and nearly 485 foreign associates.

Paula T. Hammond is the David H. Koch Chair Professor of Engineering and the head of the Department of Chemical Engineering; a founding member of the MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnology; and a member of the MIT Energy Initiative and Koch Institute… Continue reading.

New optical imaging system could be deployed to find tiny tumors

Via MIT | March 29, 2019

Many types of cancer could be more easily treated if they were detected at an earlier stage. MIT researchers have now developed an imaging system, named “DOLPHIN,” which could enable them to find tiny tumors, as small as a couple of hundred cells, deep within the body.

In a new study, the researchers used their imaging system, which relies on near-infrared light, to track a 0.1-millimeter fluorescent probe through the digestive tract of a living mouse. They also showed that they can detect a signal to a tissue depth of 8 centimeters, far deeper than any existing biomedical optical imaging technique… Continue reading.

Potential arthritis treatment prevents cartilage breakdown

Via MIT | November 28, 2018

Osteoarthritis, a disease that causes severe joint pain, affects more than 20 million people in the United States. Some drug treatments can help alleviate the pain, but there are no treatments that can reverse or slow the cartilage breakdown associated with the disease.

In an advance that could improve the treatment options available for osteoarthritis, MIT engineers have designed a new material that can administer drugs directly to the cartilage. The material can penetrate deep into the cartilage, delivering drugs that could potentially heal damaged tissue.

“This is a way to get directly to the cells that are experiencing the damage, and introduce different kinds of therapeutics that might change their behavior,” says Paula Hammond, head of MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering, a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and the senior author of the study… Continue reading.

Tiny particles could help fight brain cancer

Via MIT | May 24, 2018

Glioblastoma multiforme, a type of brain tumor, is one of the most difficult-to-treat cancers. Only a handful of drugs are approved to treat glioblastoma, and the median life expectancy for patients diagnosed with the disease is less than 15 months.

MIT researchers have now devised a new drug-delivering nanoparticle that could offer a better way to treat glioblastoma. The particles, which carry two different drugs, are designed so that they can easily cross the blood-brain barrier and bind directly to tumor cells. One drug damages tumor cells’ DNA, while the other interferes with the systems cells normally use to repair such damage.

In a study of mice, the researchers showed that the particles could shrink tumors and prevent them from growing back… Continue reading.

Fighting a giant foe at a tiny scale

Via MIT | November 7, 2017

Paula Hammond’s research focuses on using nanoscale biomaterials to attack cancer, which she calls “a supervillain with incredible superpowers.” Using targeted nanoparticles, she is attempting to turn off the natural defenses of mutant genes and deliver a deadly punch to the cancer cell. Her work will soon be translated into clinical practice through partnerships with pharmaceutical companies, entrepreneurial partners, and startups in health care.

Long interested in reading and the arts, Hammond ’84, PhD ’93 considered writing children’s novels before she decided to study chemical engineering as an undergraduate at MIT. After working at Motorola for two years, she earned her master’s degree at Georgia Tech and then returned to MIT for a new PhD program in polymer science. In 1995 Hammond joined the MIT faculty, where she is now the David H. Koch Professor of Engineering and head of the Department of Chemical Engineering… Continue reading.

Bio-inspired approach to RNA delivery

Via MIT | September 19, 2017

By delivering strands of genetic material known as messenger RNA (mRNA) into cells, researchers can induce the cells to produce any protein encoded by the mRNA. This technique holds great potential for administering vaccines or treating diseases such as cancer, but achieving efficient delivery of mRNA has proven challenging.

Now, a team of MIT chemical engineers, inspired by the way that cells translate their own mRNA into proteins, has designed a synthetic delivery system that is four times more effective than delivering mRNA on its own.

“If we want to be able to deliver mRNA, then we need a mechanism to be more effective at it because everything that’s been used so far gives you a very small fraction of what would be the optimal efficiency,” says Paula Hammond, a David H. Koch Professor in Engineering, the head of MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering, and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.

Hammond is the senior author of the paper, which appears in Angewandte Chemie. The paper’s lead authors are postdoc Jiahe Li and graduate student Yanpu He. Other co-authors in the paper are Wade Wang, Connie Wu, and Celestine Hong from the Hammond lab… Continue reading.

Advancing Medicine, Layer by Layer

Via Phys Org | July 2, 2014

Personalized cancer treatments and better bone implants could grow from techniques demonstrated by graduate students Stephen W. Morton and Nisarg J. Shah, who are both working in chemical engineering professor Paula Hammond’s lab at MIT.

Morton’s work focuses on developing drug-carrying nanoparticles to target hard-to-treat cancers—such as triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC)—while Shah develops coatings that promote better adhesion for bone implants.

Their work shares a materials-based approach that uses layer-by-layer assembly of nanoparticles and coatings. This approach provides controlled release of desirable components from chemotherapy drugs to bone growth factors. Use of natural materials promises to reduce harmful side effects.

Nanoparticles Attack Aggressive Tumors

Via MIT Library News | October 31, 2013

MIT chemical engineers have developed a new treatment for an aggressive form of breast cancer whose tumors resist chemotherapy drugs. Led by David H. Koch Professor in Engineering Paula Hammond, the team designed nanoparticles that pack a one-two punch: They deliver a cancer drug along with short strands of RNA that shut off genes used by cancer cells to escape the drug. The nanoparticles are also coated with an outer layer that protects them from degrading while en route to the cancer cells. The researchers used the particles to successfully shrink breast tumors in mice, as they report in a recent issue of the journal ACS Nano. The lead author on the paper is Jason Deng, a postdoc in Hammond’s lab.