Associate Professor, Department Honors Program Coordinator
Chemical and Biological Engineering
Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, Purdue University, 1997
M.S., Chemical Engineering, Purdue University, 1994
B.S., Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University, 1992
Dr. Chris Brazel’s research interests are in polymer science and pharmaceutical engineering. Research projects investigate the transport behavior of solvents and model solutes in hydrogel structures for use in membrane separations, controlled drug delivery and controlled release technology. “Smart” materials are used to sense environmental conditions, such as pH, temperature or specific biomolecular events to trigger conformational changes in a polymeric carrier.
Recent work has focused on the combination of magnetic nanoparticles with polymeric carriers, including micelles and hydrogels, with drug delivery triggered by a high frequency magnetic field. The optimization of heating nanoparticles involves judicious selection of elemental composition of the magnetic nanoparticle as well as its size, concentration and dispersion quality. Using a custom-designed magnetic field generator, we can investigate the performance of nanoparticles in a range of magnetic field strengths and frequencies, with maximum heating desired so that smaller concentrations of nanoparticles can be used. Magnetic hyperthermia combined with localized chemotherapy has potential to improve cancer therapy, particularly when targeted to cancer cell.
Brazel’s lab also studies the toxicology of materials, often as initial screenings for newly-developed polymers. Recent work has expanded to include extracts and metabolites from single-use bioprocessing systems, with the goal of developing a standard procedure to evaluate the effect of these extractables on the performance of mammalian cells used in biopharmaceutical production.
Along these lines, the Brazel lab is also interested in the development of flexible polymers with superior thermal stability and low plasticizer leach-ability for use in long lifespan products and systems sensitive to extracts, such as biopharmaceuticals. Microencapsulation is another area of research interest, including such processes as spray drying, emulsion polymerization and fluid-bed coating.