The biological barriers to drug delivery to target cells and tissues are complex and numerous, and cause drugs to either be degraded or filtered from the body before achieving their desired therapeutic effect. The Mitchell Lab works at the interface of biomaterials science, drug delivery, and cellular and molecular bioengineering to fundamentally understand and overcome biological barriers to drug delivery. The lab applies research findings and the technologies developed to a range of human health applications, including cancer metastasis, immunotherapy, genome editing, cardiovascular disease, and regenerative medicine. Specific research interests include: synthesis of novel biomaterials and nanoparticles for the delivery of nucleic acids (siRNA, miRNA, mRNA, CRISPR-Cas9); investigating the influence of biomaterial chemical structure on in vivo transport to target cells and tissues using high-throughput screening platforms; and novel drug delivery technologies for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.


Immunotherapy has become a powerful clinical strategy for treating disease, with an increasing number of drug approvals and a large pipeline of novel treatments in clinical and preclinical development. A key challenge to the broad implementation of immunotherapy is the controlled modulation of the immune system, as immunotherapeutics can often be a double-edged sword and cause serious autoimmune effects and non-specific inflammation. The Mitchell Lab is designing advanced drug delivery systems and biomaterials to better harness the effects of immunotherapy and improve their potency, while avoiding toxic side effects. Specific research interests include the development of in vivo and ex vivo delivery technologies to engineer immune cells for cancer immunotherapy and vaccination.


The principles of engineering and physics have now been applied to oncology for decades. Engineers and physical scientists have made contributions to all aspects of cancer biology, from developing a quantitative understanding of the physical abnormalities of tumors to improving the detection and diagnosis of cancer. By detecting and quantifying these physical abnormalities, physical scientists and engineers – in collaboration with cancer biologists and oncologists – are identifying new therapeutic strategies for cancer. The Mitchell Lab is specifically interested in developing in vivo drug delivery technologies that target key genes and proteins in the tumor microenvironment that drive cancer progression, with the ultimate goal of developing novel therapeutics that synergize with clinically approved drugs to treat cancer.