The National Engineers Week Foundation has selected a cross-section of young engineers whose commitment and engagement are making a difference. This year, Dr. Christopher Jewell has been chosen as the AIChE honoree. From the moment he entered Lehigh, Dr. Jewell’s passion for research drove him to apply engineering to biology. He completed dual degrees in just four years, also receiving the senior AIChE award.
While working toward his PhD, Chris designed synthetic polymer films containing DNA for gene therapy. Collaborating with the Cardiology department, he used these films to coat stents that locally deliver functional DNA to arteries in animal studies. These materials could help improve stents deployed in humans to treat heart disease. Chris also designed and presented science demonstrations to elementary schools children through the Adult Role Models in Science program.
As a postdoctoral fellow at MIT, Dr. Jewell develops vaccines based on biodegradable polymer depots that can be deployed in lymph nodes to slowly release vaccines over time. These materials locally target immune cells that generate responses to fight infection and disease. Depending on the combinations of drugs in the depots, the vaccines can be used to tune immune response. Ultimately this strategy could contribute to new therapeutic vaccines for treating cancer or autoimmunity.
Dr. Jewell’s work has led to more than 25 papers and patents, and he is the recipient of numerous awards for his contributions to engineering and outreach.