Texas Tech University

Chemical Engineering Professor Honored With CAREER Award

Amanda Bowman

March 27, 2018

Jeremy Marston received the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award for his work on needle-free injections.

Jeremy Marston, an assistant professor in Texas Tech University's Department of Chemical Engineering in the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering, received the National Science Foundation's (NSF) CAREER Award for his work with needle-free injections.

The CAREER award is the most prestigious award in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through research, education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. It also comes with a monetary grant, of which Marston received $500,000.

“Receiving this award is an honor and a relief,” Marston said. “There was a lot of work over the last year and a half that went into this project. With the grant money from the NSF, my team and I will be able to continue on with this project and expand it further.”

Marston recently had partnered with Inovio Pharmaceuticals, a San Diego, California-based company, on his needle-free injection, which you can read about here. The funding from Inovio ends in a few months, so the NSF grant came at the most opportune time.

The NSF funding also allows Marston and his team of undergraduate and doctoral students to expand the research and focus on much broader aspects of the work.

“Now, we have the funding to do a deeper study on this project,” he said. “There are multiple devices and considerations for needle-free injection, and going forward, we won't just focus on one specific device, like we did with the Inovio project. We'll be able to do a really thorough classification of the various aspects of needle-free injections. We'll also do some simulations.

“Ultimately, we aim to provide predictive capabilities, which means we could tell a drug manufacturer developing a new drug specific design considerations that could optimize delivery of that drug. If the manufacturer told us we have to target a specific region of the body, we could fine-tune the parameters for the needle-free jet injection device to help deliver the drug successfully.”

Marston and his team's work also could help save the U.S. billions of dollars in accidental needle-stick injuries as well as help stop the reuse of hypodermic needles in developing nations.

“Needle stick injuries are a big problem,” Marston said. “In the U.S. alone, we spend billions of dollars treating accidental needle stick injuries, and most of the people who suffer from them are health care professionals like nurses and doctors. Hypodermic needles are supposed to be single-use, but some countries are reusing them. If the cost of manufacturing needle-free devices goes down, then you completely eliminate the patient cross-contamination factor.”

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