B.S. Louisiana State University
M.S. Texas A&M University
Ph.D. Tulane University
The majority of pathogens enter the body through mucosal surfaces. To achieve protection at these sites of entry, my research focuses on vaccine development, particularly investigating non-parenteral (needle-free) immunization techniques. Transcutaneous immunization is one technique that offers many potential benefits over traditional vaccine delivery, including induction of a mucosal immune response. With a focus on and understanding of the chemical and physical structure of the skin, I am working to improve the efficiency of transcutaneous immunization with specifically-tailored nano-carriers that can overcome the skin’s barrier function for efficient antigen delivery and enhanced immune response. Vaccine delivery via the oral, intestinal, and lung mucosa is also being explored. I am investigating various encapsulation methods for vaccine antigens, including lipid-based vesicles and emulsions and polymer-based films. By understanding the particular response following immunization at various routes and with various adjuvants, we hope to be able to tailor formulations to maximize protection against pathogenic agents. Another aspect of my research is encapsulation and delivery of therapeutic anti-microbials for tailored release over time. Polymer- and gelatin-based films offer the capability to control the release of therapeutic agents over time to extend their effectiveness.