UC San Diego Materials Science and Engineering


Adah  Almutairi

Adah Almutairi

Associate Professor

Pharmaceutical Sciences


Phone: 858-246-0871

There exists a large and unmet need for materials to enable discoveries in the life sciences, and applications in medical fields such as non-invasive molecular imaging, drug development and delivery, implants, and tissue scaffolds. Currently, a major research thrust in the Laboratory for Bioresponsive Materials is to develop 'smart' or 'sensing' materials, chemistries, and formulations, capable of performing sophisticated biological functions for the efficient delivery of therapeutics and to enable non-invasive molecular imaging.

The Almutairi lab is highly interdisciplinary, utilizing and expanding current knowledge in nanotechnology, polymer science, and chemistry. Specifically, they develop novel smart polymers that degrade into small molecules in response to mild acid, oxidative conditions, or light (even near infrared light, which can safely penetrate living tissue). Formulating these polymers into nanoparticles and hydrogels allows delivery of a variety of cargo, from drugs to imaging agents to biological molecules. These materials enable unprecedented control over delivery and should allow complete clearance of the carrier. The resulting biomedical research tools, diagnostic agents, and drug formulations promise to rapidly advance understanding and treatment of disease. The lab is expanding their capabilities to adapt their materials for specific biological research and clinical purposes, such as in vitro development of organized neural structures and delivery of therapeutics within the eye. In the process of characterizing these materials, they develop new methods of formulating nanoparticles and measuring rates of release of encapsulated molecules.

In addition to her own group, the Laboratory for Bioresponsive Materials, Prof. Almutairi leads the Center of Excellence in Nanomedicine, a cross-campus collaborative that develops tools for the future of biology and medicine. She came to UC San Diego from UC Berkeley, where she worked with Professor Jean Frechet to develop several nanoprobes for in vivo imaging. Prior to that, she completed her PhD in materials chemistry at UC Riverside on electron delocalization and molecular structure, which led her to develop a novel polymer for electromechanical actuation. Prof. Almutairi has won several awards and competitive funding throughout her career, including an NIH New Innovator Award. She has been invited to speak at universities and conferences around the world, from Harvard to Stockholm, Sweden, to Doha, Qatar, to Changchun, China. Please visit http://almutairi.ucsd.edu/ for more information.

Prof. Adah Almutairi moved to Los Angeles in 1997 to attend Occidental College where she was awarded the Rodna Nye Scholarship. After receiving an Advanced Bachelor in Chemistry, Prof. Almutairi was selected to receive a GAANN fellowship to continue her studies at the University of California Riverside. In 2005, she completed her PhD in Materials Chemistry and received both the UC Dissertation Award and the prestigious UC Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship. Upon completing her postdoctoral studies at the University of California Berkeley in the laboratories of Prof. Jean Frechet, in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Prof. Almutairi moved to the University of California San Diego to establish the Laboratory for Bioresponsive Materials as a Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and an affiliate Faculty of the Department of NanoEngineering and a Faculty member of both Materials Science and Engineering and Biomedical Sciences. Adah has authored numerous publications and presented at conferences worldwide. Her research interests are in interfacing Materials Chemistry and Engineering with Biomedical Sciences for practical applications.