Dr. Adah Almutairi

Biomaterials to detect, treat and prevent disease

Dr. Adah Almutairi
Adah Almutairi, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Materials Science and Engineering

(858) 246-0871
Research Summary

The Almutairi lab is highly interdisciplinary, utilizing and expanding current knowledge in nanotechnology, polymer science, and chemistry. Specifically, they develop novel smart polymers that degrade into small molecules in response to mild acid, oxidative conditions, or light (even near infrared light, which can safely penetrate living tissue). Formulating these polymers into nanoparticles and hydrogels allows delivery of a variety of cargo, from drugs to imaging agents to biological molecules. These materials enable unprecedented control over delivery and should allow complete clearance of the carrier. They could be used to create biomedical research tools, diagnostic agents, and drug formulations that rapidly advance understanding and treatment of disease. The lab is adapting their materials for specific biological research and clinical purposes, such as in vitro development of organized neural structures and delivery of therapeutics within the eye. In the process of characterizing these materials, they develop new methods of formulating nanoparticles and measuring rates of release of encapsulated molecules.

Academic Achievements

Education: A.B. in Chemistry (2000) Occidental College; Ph.D. in Chemistry (2005) University of California, Riverside, Postdoctoral Studies in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (2005-2008) University of California, Berkeley.

Awards and Honors: Young Investigator Award, Div. Polymeric Mater. Sci. Eng., ACS (2014); ChemComm Emerging Investigator, Royal Society of Chemistry (2014); Young Investigator Award, World Biomaterials Congress, Chengdu, China (2012); NIH Director New Innovator Award (2009); Thieme Chemistry Journal Award (2009), PhRMA Foundation Award (2009)

Leadership Experience: Director of the UCSD-KACST Center for Excellence in Nanomedicine and Engineering, part of the Institute of Engineering in Medicine.

  • Course director, Frontiers in Therapeutic and Diagnostic Delivery seminar (SPPS 276/MATS 259)
  • Medical Device Materials - guest lecturer (MATS 258/MAE 250)
  • Pharmacokinetics Conference Facilitator (SOM 217A)
Key Contributions
  • Introduced the first polymeric nanoparticle to release drug in response to concentrations of hydrogen peroxide characteristic of inflammation
  • Developed the first near infrared-degradable polymer, which enables precise remotely controlled delivery of molecules
  • Created an activatable MRI agent with unprecedented contrast between “on” and “off” states
  • Designed a polymeric nanoparticle that enables delivery to the cytosol by rapid degradation upon exposure to mild acid
Potential Collaborative Programs
  • Groundbreaking materials with commercial potential in medical imaging and drug delivery, especially in inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis.
  • Ten years of expertise in applied materials chemistry. Diverse array of laboratory approaches towards design, synthesis, characterization and testing of biomaterials in cells and animals.