Chair of biomedical engineering joins Institute of Medicine

Pioneering nanobiologist, department founder, is elected to prestigious corps

W. Mark Saltzman, founding chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, is Yale’s newest member of the Institute of Medicine.
W. Mark Saltzman, founding chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, is Yale’s newest member of the Institute of Medicine.
Terry Dagradi

W. Mark Saltzman, Ph.D., Goizueta Foundation Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at the School of Medicine, has been elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), one of the most prestigious bodies in health and medicine.

Saltzman’s research at the intersection of basic science and translational research aims to promote new methods for drug delivery and develop new biotechnologies to combat human disease. A pioneer in the fields of biomaterials, nanobiotechnology, and tissue engineering, Saltzman has contributed to the design and implementation of a number of clinical technologies that have become essential to medical practice today.

As a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Saltzman built scaffolds that could be seeded with cells to sculpt new replacement tissues. He also created drug-impregnated implants from polymers that slowly and steadily release medicines for long periods—work that now helps patients in the form of GLIADEL®, a chemotherapy-loaded polymer wafer that neurosurgeons implant in the brain to combat glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), one of the most aggressive types of malignant brain tumors.

Saltzman has miniaturized his slow-release polymers into spherical nanoparticles that can be taken up directly by cells. In 2013, Saltzman was part of an interdisciplinary Yale collaborative team whose work led to a new treatment for GBM that has shown great promise in animal studies.

The treatment method involved delivering the fungicide dithiazanine iodide via nanoparticle “carriers” infused directly at the tumor site. Saltzman and his colleagues Joseph M. Piepmeier, M.D., Nixdorff-German Professor of Neurosurgery, and Jiangbing Zhou, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurosurgery and biomedical engineering, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that the technology had cured eight of 12 rats with tumors—an unprecedented rate of success. The team is now exploring the use of the technology in humans with GBM. In other projects with medical colleagues, Saltzman is synthesizing and testing nanoparticles to deliver gene-editing agents, novel anti-cancer agents that block microRNAs, microbicides for preventing infectious disease, and targeted approaches for treating vascular disease.

“Mark Saltzman embodies the spirit of collaboration and innovation that we prize at the School of Medicine, which is so essential to the development of novel treatments for disease in today’s scientific climate,” says Dean and Ensign Professor of Medicine Robert J. Alpern, M.D. “Mark is not only a dynamic leader, but a resourceful and innovative collaborator. We are very proud of his election to the IOM, an honor he has truly earned.”

Saltzman received his B.S. in chemical engineering from Iowa State University and earned an M.S. in chemical engineering and Ph.D. in medical engineering from MIT. In 2002, after serving on the faculties at The Johns Hopkins University and Cornell University, Saltzman came to Yale, where he was named founding chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering in 2003.

Saltzman’s achievements in the classroom have been recognized throughout his career, with teaching awards from Johns Hopkins, Cornell, and Yale, as well as the Distinguished Lecturer Award from the Biomedical Engineering Society.

The IOM is an honorific membership body that also advises lawmakers, health professionals, and the public on health care and health policy. Saltzman is one of 37 School of Medicine scientists who are members. He is among 70 new members and 10 foreign associates elected to the IOM.

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  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Institute of Medicine

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W. Mark Saltzman

Goizueta Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Professor of Cellular and Molecular Physiology and of Chemical Engineering, Head of Jonathan Edwards College