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Faculty Profile: Vladimir P. Torchilin
At just sixteen years old, Vladimir P. Torchilin so impressed officials at the world-renowned Moscow State University that they admitted him a full two years early to one of the most academically rigorous science programs in the world.
He did not disappoint. An ambitious young scientist, Torchilin had earned an M.S. in polymer science by age twenty-two and a PhD in chemical kinetics and catalysis by age twenty-five, when he joined the faculty at Moscow State University as a junior scientist.
He was one of the youngest scientists ever to receive the doctor of science degree in chemistry and to win the Lenin prize, the highest scientific award in the former Soviet Union.
Nearly three decades and several prestigious appointments later, Torchilin, professor and chairman of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Northeastern's Bouvé College of Health Sciences for the past five years, has received countless honors for his innovative research in such areas as drug delivery systems, drug targeting, cancer immunology, and imaging agents.
He holds more than 45 patents, has received upwards of $5.5 million in grants, has published more than 300 papers, and sat on the editorial boards of fourteen highly respected scientific journals.
On coming to Northeastern from Harvard Medical School, where he was associate professor of radiology with a joint appointment as head of the chemistry program at Massachusetts General Hospital's Center for Imaging and Pharmaceutical Research (CIPR), Torchilin said, "I like what is going on at Northeastern. It is changing fast. More and more strong scientists are coming on board. There is a lot of opportunity to do serious and important work here."
Studying the delivery methods for drugs used to treat cancerous tumors, just one of Torchilin's research areas, is indeed serious work.
"There are many new promising drugs today, but they still have physical properties that make them difficult, and sometimes less efficient, to use," explained Torchilin. "They have terrible side effects and can damage healthy tissue while treating disease."
According to Torchilin, passive drug targeting — administering drugs that go throughout the entire body and deliver only a minor fraction of the drug to the actual tumor or disease site — can be costly and ineffective.
To improve the efficacy of these drugs, Torchilin is researching active drug targeting — a system of administering from inside the body drugs that have been designed for use with certain carriers to literally seek out the disease site, delivering a highly targeted, more efficient and, hopefully, more effective therapy.
"There is so much happening in the field of pharmaceutical
biotechnology," he said. "Life expectancy continues to climb. Unfortunately,
living longer doesn't man that you stay young longer; it means you
stay old longer. We need good medical care and major advances to make
longer life healthy and enjoyable. It is an exciting time to be working
in this field."
|This article appeared in the Winter 2004 edition of Pathways: the Leadership Campaign.|
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