"I believe I can state with confidence that Steve's work is seminal and extremely valuable in elucidating critical variables associated with sustained drug delivery and is bringing substantive value to the field," said Art Coury, Ph.D., recently retired from Genzyme Corporation, who nominated Dr. Little.
To achieve his objectives, Dr. Little has succeeded in bringing over $4.5 million in grants to the University of Pittsburgh, has mentored approximately 47 individuals, and has run undergraduate research programs averaging 10 students at a time in his lab.
"I feel so honored to nominate Steve Little for the next Young Investigator's Award," continued Dr. Coury." I have not observed anyone more deserving currently or in the past."
Researchers in Dr. Little's innovative "Little Lab" focus upon biomimetic therapies that replicate the biological function and interactions of living entities using synthetic systems. More information is available at the Little Lab's website.
In 2006, Dr. Little was given the title "Bicentennial Alumni Faculty Fellow." The following year he received career development awards from both the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health. In 2008, Dr. Little was named 1 of only 16 Young Investigators by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation and is the only professor at the University of Pittsburgh to receive the award. Then in 2009, Dr. Little was recognized as the single most outstanding faculty in the Swanson School of Engineering by the Board of Visitors. Last year, he received the Wallace H. Coulter Translational Research Award.
Dr. Little said the Young Investigator Award, given to only one younger researcher in the world each year, is "an enormous honor for this lab." He hopes it will also be another step toward his goal of making medicine smarter.
"If you take a pill, the signal it gives to the body is kind of everywhere, sort of like a loudspeaker repeating the same word over and over again. What we are trying to do is make the therapy more like having a conversation across the table," said Dr. Little.
Dr. Little received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 2005 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he held three National Graduate Fellowships and received the American Association for the Advancement of Science Excellence in Research Award for his work on engineered therapies that interface with the human immune system. He received a bachelor of engineering in chemical engineering from Youngstown State University in 2000.
This marks the Swanson School of Engineering's third recognition in as many years from the Society For Biomaterials. William R. Wagner, Ph.D., interim director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and professor of surgery, bioengineering and chemical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, won the Clemson Award from the Society For Biomaterials in 2010 and Stephen F. Badylak, D.V.M., Ph.D., M.D., deputy director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and professor, Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, won in 2009.
Illustration: University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering.