Texas Tech University

Gill Awarded Whitacre Endowed Chair in Science and Engineering

George Watson, george.watson@ttu.edu

August 12, 2015

The chemical engineering professor’s achievements in biomedical engineering are recognized with $2 million endowment.

Harvinder Gill
Harvinder Gill

Harvinder Singh Gill, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, was awarded the Whitacre Endowed Chair in Science and Engineering for his research achievements in biomedical engineering.

Al Sacco Jr., dean of the Whitacre College of Engineering, announced the award to Gill, which carries with it a $2 million endowment that can be used to advance research as Gill sees fit. The award was effective Aug. 1 and is one of three Whitacre chairs in the College of Engineering.

“I am both honored and grateful to be named the Whitacre Chair,” said Gill, who will be promoted to associate professor. “Receiving this endowment is an affirmation of my efforts and that of the members of my lab, which have resulted in the development of a number of groundbreaking research areas.”

Gill, who has been with the chemical engineering faculty since 2009, is an expert in micro- and nanosystems for use in drug and vaccine delivery, bio-nanomaterials, mucosal vaccination and immunomodulation. He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles in high-impact journals and is co-holder of a patent on coated microstructures and their method of manufacture. That patent is licensed to Apogee Technology.

He also directs Gill Laboratory, which performs research in drug delivery, vaccines, immunology and nanomedicine to address the biomedical challenges facing human health.

“My lab at Texas Tech is focused on immunoengineering and nanomedicine,” Gill said. “We are pursuing a number of exciting projects, such as pioneering pollen grains as novel microcapsules for oral and painless vaccine and drug delivery, developing a universal flu vaccine and pioneering painless microneedles for oral cancer therapy and allergy vaccination.” 

Under terms of the endowed chair, Gill is expected to continue to publish articles in applicable journals as well as write grants and secure funding for research activities. He also will continue to mentor other faculty members within the department. The endowed chair is renewable every five years based on performance.

With the endowed chair, Gill said he hopes to work on high-risk, high-impact projects dealing with human health in the areas of vaccines, cancer therapy and stem cells.

“Because many of these ideas are out-of-the-box, their basic analysis and feasibility demonstration is vital,” Gill said. “Only with such foundational data can I strive to secure external grants to support development of these ideas into mature scientific principles and medically relevant products. The endowment will help me get this data and function as a seed for bigger grants.”

Sacco lauded Gill's research, teaching and service in awarding him the chair. In the past, Gill has received the prestigious National Institute of Health Director's New Innovator Award, the Young Faculty Award from the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and has to date secured about $6 million in competitive federal research fundings. He has also worked closely with the Texas Tech Clark Scholars Program.

“Dr. Gill has aggressively promoted research experiences for undergraduates and high school students,” Sacco said. “In the past five years he has worked with 20 undergraduates, of which 13 were women or underrepresented minorities. His funding record, quality of publications, citations and awards garnered by his students speak for themselves. Dr. Gill is a perfect candidate for the Whitacre Endowed Chair in Science and Engineering.”