In her research group, Paula T. Hammond examines the behavior of polymers (large, long-chain molecules) that are designed to arrange themselves into larger structures which offer promising applications. Her ongoing projects include the creation of ultrathin polymer films for flexible plastic displays, photovoltaic coatings that can act as a form of portable solar power, and surfaces that can be used to guide the growth and attachment of living cells on surfaces.
At the Radcliffe Institute, Hammond will work on a project involving the creation of polymers that assemble in water to form micelles—tiny colloidal microdroplet-sized “containers”—that can be used for drug delivery. She and her colleagues plan to attach special proteins designed to be recognized, or targeted, only by tumor cells, to create drug systems for cancer. Targeted drug delivery offers great promise for the treatment of isolated regions of the body, and may offer the critical key to the treatment of cancer without the hazardous side effects commonly known to chemotherapy approaches.
Hammond earned her SB in chemical engineering from MIT in 1984, her MS degree from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1988, and her PhD in chemical engineering in 1993 from MIT. Her awards include the National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Chemistry in 1994, the NSF Young Investigator Career Award in1997, the Junior Bose Faculty Teaching Award at MIT in 2000, and the Mark Hyman, Jr. Career Development Chair in 2003. Her research grants include those from the NSF, the Office of Naval Research, the Army Research Office, and the DuPont Corporation.