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Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmaceutics & Pharmaceutical Chemistry
Dr. Furgeson’s research interests are unusual. He has two primary research areas in (1) interventional oncology and (2) nanotoxicology. Both involve nanomaterials synthesis and characterization, in vitro testing for bioactivity, and extension to preclinical in vivo models for therapy. First, his group has designed a recombinant, protein-based drug delivery platform for multi-modal therapy of primary tumors and oligometastases. Although microwave thermal ablation is an established method for destroying the tumor core, peripheral neoplastic tissue often survives due to sub-lethal temperatures at the margins, which may lead to tumor recurrence. The group exploits this thermal ablation gradient for passive and active polymer-drug targeting to the induced, hyperthermic tumor periphery (ca. 43oC) by using thermosensitive, bioorganic polymers to delivery anti-tumor drugs. The group’s polymer-drug conjugates are designed for synergistic thermal ablation therapy enabling locoregional chemo-inhibition of pro-oncogenic heat shock proteins. Second, Dr. Furgeson’s group is developing a zebrafish embryo model to accurately gauge systemic toxicity for nanomaterials and to identify physicochemical properties (e.g. size, shape, charge, etc.) affording lower incidences of toxic effects. This semi-quantitative assay is designed for gross morphological changes and sublethal toxicities associated with nanomaterial exposures. Definition of these nanoparticle characteristics could accelerate pre-clinical development of novel therapeutics.