Advisory Board

Professor Samuel K. Lai

The ScienceDaily article A Better Mesh: Researchers “Tighten” Body’s Protective Coating said

A net with large holes won’t catch small fish. Likewise, the microscopic fibers in the protective mucus coatings of the eyes, lungs, stomach or reproductive system naturally bundle together and allow the tiniest disease-causing bugs, allergens or pollutants to slip by. But Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered a way to chemically shrink the holes in the mucus layer’s netting so that it will keep out more of the unwanted particles.
“The mucus layer is an outstanding barrier to most things, but not a perfect one for objects smaller than several hundred nanometers [about 1,000 times smaller than the width a human hair]. We still get sick far too often,” says Samuel Lai, a chemical and biomolecular researcher in the Whiting School of Engineering and a member of the university’s Institute for NanoBioTechnology (INBT).

Samuel K. Lai, Ph.D. is Assistant Research Professor, Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Johns Hopkins University.
Sam’s research focuses on

  • Translational development of mucus-penetrating particles
  • Pathogen transport in mucus
  • Nanoscale mechanical & barrier properties of mucus
He coauthored Rapid transport of large polymeric nanoparticles in fresh undiluted human mucus, Gene delivery to differentiated neurotypic cells with RGD and HIV Tat peptide functionalized polymeric nanoparticles, Privileged delivery of polymer nanoparticles to the perinuclear region of live cells via a non-clathrin, non-degradative pathway, Quantifying the Intracellular Transport of Viral and Nonviral Gene Vectors in Primary Neurons, Characterization of the intracellular dynamics of a non-degradative pathway accessed by polymer nanoparticles, Altering Mucus Rheology to “Solidify” Human Mucus at the Nanoscale, and A genomically/chemically complete module for synthesis of lipid membrane in a minimal cell. His patent applications include Compositions and Methods for Enhancing Transport Through Mucus.
Sam earned his B.S. in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering from Cornell University in 2003 and his Ph.D. in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 2007.
Watch Mucus Barrier. Read Coated Nanoparticles Solve Sticky Drug-delivery Problem and Breaking The “Mucus Barrier” With A New Drug Delivery System.