November 28, 2012
As a globally deployed force tasked with defending U.S. interests and delivering humanitarian assistance to international populations, the Department of Defense must be able to provide health care anywhere in the world at any time to protect against natural and man-made health threats. Having trained and equipped medical personnel on hand is not feasible for every mission, however, which is one reason why DoD invests in medical treatments that can be easily administered by one's self or by fellow servicemembers. Among the 2012 class of academic researchers receiving mentorship and funding through DARPA's Young Faculty Awards (YFA) program, one individual is studying novel methods for packaging and delivery of orally consumed vaccines. His tool of choice: pollen.
Harvinder Gill, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Texas Tech University, seeks to understand, engineer and test a pollen-based oral vaccination platform to protect against a range of infectious diseases. If successful, his research could lead to more effective, more easily administered and more easily transported vaccines for deployed troops.