Dr. Kathryn Whitehead is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).
Dr. Whitehead joined the CMU’s Department of Chemical Engineering in 2012. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware in 2002 and her PhD in chemical engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2007. As a graduate student in the laboratory of Samir Mitragotri, Dr. Whitehead developed systems for the oral delivery of macromolecules. From 2008 - 2012, she trained as a postdoc with Bob Langer and Dan Anderson in the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). There, she developed biomaterials and methodologies for the advancement of RNA interference therapeutics.
Dr. Whitehead has received awards from the Controlled Release Society and the American Diabetes Association as well as several fellowships, including an NIH NRSA postdoctoral fellowship. In 2014, Dr. Whitehead was named as a Pioneer on the MIT Technology Review’s annual list of Innovators Under 35 for her contributions to biotechnology and medicine. Several of her patents have been licensed and are currently being developed for reagent and therapeutic use.
The research interests of the Whitehead Lab lie at the interface of chemical engineering, molecular biology, and medicine. Dr. Whitehead and her team’s ultimate goal is to engineer safe and effective drug delivery systems capable of achieving therapeutic outcomes in biological models and, ultimately, in humans. As a first step, the Whitehead Lab is interested in developing a fundamental understanding of the relationship between delivery barrier biology and drug transport. To accomplish this, they are employing RNA interference, a biological phenomenon that induces gene silencing in the presence of siRNA. Through the identification of cellular components essential to the drug transport process, they are able to design delivery systems using modern chemical techniques to overcome or cooperate with those components. Specifically, the team is interested in the development of delivery systems for the nucleus, the intestinal epithelium, and various leukocytes, including B lymphoma cells.
A list of Dr. Whitehead’s publications can be found here.