Professor Heather Maynard is featured speaker at SCALACS International Women’s Day Celebration

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On Monday evening, March 8, Professor Heather Maynard will be featured speaker at Southern California Section of the American Chemical Society special event.

A worldwide leader in the area of protein-polymer conjugates, which are important therapeutics for a variety of diseases, Maynard holds UCLA’s Dr. Myung Ki Hong Endowed Chair in Polymer Science. At the virtual event, Maynard will speak about the “Synthesis of Glycopolymers and Mimetics for Therapeutic Protein Delivery”.  

All are invited to attend the SCALACS event, which takes place from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm (PT). Click here to register in order to receive the Zoom logon information.

According to the abstract for Maynard’s talk, therapeutic proteins are challenging to transport and store, and thus the majority must be refrigerated or frozen. Proteins exposed to these conditions and others such as mechanical agitation often lose activity. This can be harmful or even fatal for patients that take the medications and can also increase costs because of the requirement of the cold chain. Thus, polymeric materials that are capable of stabilizing biomolecules at room temperature and to agitation are of significant interest. 

Maynard Protein Delivery

Maynard’s talk will focus on new polymeric materials to address this important problem. Well-defined polymers were synthesized by controlled radical polymerization and ring opening polymerizations. These were tested for their ability to stabilize proteins to room temperature, elevated temperatures, mechanical agitation, and pH changes when added as excipients. Side chains derived from Nature and others from known excipient classes were compared and contrasted, and the mechanisms of stabilization were investigated. Grafting to and grafting from synthetic strategies were utilized to prepare protein conjugates of these polymers, and in vivo testing showed that the polymers significantly increased blood circulation times (i.e. pharmacokinetics) in addition to retaining protein activity after exposure to high temperatures. Synthesis, stabilization properties, and application of the polymers to treat diabetes and chemotherapy will be presented.

As a leader in the area of protein-polymer conjugates, Maynard develops new synthetic methods to make the materials, invents new polymers to improve properties such as stability, and demonstrates preclinical efficacy of her conjugates with an eye towards translation for human health. She also works in the area of smart materials for precision medicine: materials that respond to disease states in the body. Maynard’s research and teaching have been recognized by numerous awards including the American Chemical Society Arthur Cope Scholar Award, Fulbright Specialist Award, Seaborg Award for Outstanding Research in Chemistry, Hanson-Dow Award for Excellence in Teaching and the UCLA Student Development Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award. Maynard is both an American Chemical Society Polymer Chemistry and Polymer Materials: Science and Engineering Fellow. She is also a Leverhulme, Kavli Frontiers, and Royal Society of Chemistry Fellow and was a member of the United States Defense Science Study Group from 2016-2017.  Maynard was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and will be inducted as a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) in March.  

Maynard received her B.S. with Honors in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1992, Masters in Materials Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1995, and a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 2000 for research in the group of Nobel Prize winner Robert H. Grubbs. She was an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral fellow with Jeffrey Hubbell at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) from 2000-2002. Maynard joined the UCLA faculty as an Assistant Professor in August 2002 as the first Howard Reiss Career Development Chair in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and as a member of the California NanoSystems Institute. 

Maynard is Director of the National Institutes of Health funded Chemistry Biology Interface Training Program and Associate Director for the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA. She is also the co-Director of the new $23.7 million NSF funded BioPACIFIC Materials Innovation Platform at UCLA and UCSB. 

To learn more about Maynard’s research, visit her group’s website

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry,