Engineered Biomaterials in Mucosal Infections and Mucosal Immunity
The Woodrow Laboratory is focused on the applications of engineered biomaterials in mucosal infections and mucosal immunity. Our long-term goals are to design and build multifunctional materials that will: (1) lead to novel preventative strategies for mucosal infections, (2) program protective immune responses at mucosal sites of pathogen entry, and (3) assist studies of mucosal infections and mucosal immunity in health and disease. These scientific goals are addressed from the perspective of fundamental science, technology development, and translational research. We are a highly interdisciplinary group that implements knowledge and tools from all areas of science and engineering. We strive to innovate solutions that will have the greatest impact in biomedicine and global health technologies.

We encourage you to read more about our current research.

Our main areas of research are:

Mucosal Infections & Mucosal Drug Delivery

We are interested in mucosal delivery of drugs and biologicals to prevent infection of viral and bacterial pathogens that invade mucosal sites. In particular, we focus on topical delivery of antiviral agents to inhibit mucosal HIV infection. We use our biomaterials to achieve combination delivery of drugs with different mechanisms of action. Our interest is to identify unique drug-drug interactions that are facilitated by our delivery systems. Read more

Engineering Mucosal Immunity

The mucosal immune system is the first-line of defense against pathogens that invade at mucosal sites – an area that is 200-times larger than the surface area covered by our skin. The organization of mucosal immune tissues and cells is unique from that of the systemic immune system and differs at various mucosal sites. We are developing biomaterial strategies to target vaccine antigens and adjuvants to mucosal immune cells and draining lymph node tissues. Our approaches are applied to program mucosal immune responses against sexually transmitted pathogens. Read more

Biomaterials for Reproductive Health & Contraception

Commonalities between mammalian fertilization and sexual HIV-1 infection provide opportunities to translate antiviral biomaterial designs towards applications for contraception. We are developing nanomaterials to combine chemical and physical barrier methods for inhibiting sperm function and penetration. Composite materials are also engineered to have HIV-1 and HSV-2 antiviral activity. This versatile new platform for mucosal drug delivery is being applied to other sexual and reproductive health indications, and to engineer mucosal immunity. Read more

Engineered Materials & Mucosal Biology

We are developing biomaterials to facilitate studies of the mucosal microenvironment. We are interested in the structure, chemistry and function of the viscoelastic mucus gel in conditions of health and disease. We are also interested in the functional role of mucosal tissue and cells in determining immunity versus tolerance in the genital mucosa. We combine engineered biomaterials with quantitative tools to probe fundamental aspects of mucosal biology and mucosal immunity. Read more

Our laboratory collaborates with investigators at the University of Washington, UW School of Medicine, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Seattle BioMed.

We are members of the Center for AIDS Research; Global Center for Integrated Health of Women, Adolescents & Children; Molecular Engineering & Science Institute; and the Center for Nanotechnology.