Hubbell Lab: Jeffrey Hubbell

Barry L. MacLean Professor of Molecular Engineering Innovation and Enterprise and Deputy Director for Faculty and Staff Affairs

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Research

Hubbell designs materials to assemble in such a way that they can stimulate the immune systems to fight infection or malignancy, or turn off some aspects of the immune system to address auto-immune diseases such as type-1 diabetes. Hubbell has coined the term “immuno-modulatory materials” to describe this newly emerging field of research. Along with his associates, he holds 77 patents.

An entrepreneurial materials scientist, Hubbell has founded three companies based on his research.

One company, Kuros Biosurgery, in Zurich, is developing growth factor engineering and biomaterials technology for surgical sealants and tissue repair agents. That work is based on research from his academic laboratory on growth factor variants that bind to biomaterials such as fibrin, a protein involved in blood clotting, as well as on synthetic hydrogel technology.

Anokion, in Lausanne, is developing immunological tolerance technology for preventing immunity to protein drugs that would otherwise elicit an immune response, also based on research from Hubbell’s academic laboratory. A good example is in hemophilia A. Approximately one-third of children who are treated with the protein drug to correct this genetic disease develop an inhibiting immunological recognition to the protein, which makes their lives very difficult. Anokion is working on ways to induce tolerance to such proteins to prevent their immunological recognition.

The third, Focal, Inc., of Lexington, Mass., was acquired by Genzyme Biosurgery in 2001.

Biography

Hubbell received his bacehlor’s degree from Kansas State University in 1982, and his PhD from Rice University in 1986, both in chemical engineering. He started his academic career as a member of the chemical engineering faculty at the University of Texas, then at the California Institute of Technology.

Hubbell next moved to Switzerland, where he initially served as a professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Institute for Biomedical Engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the University of Zurich. He moved to École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lusanne (EPFL) in 2003 to serve as founding director of the Institute of Bioengineering.

In addition to his membership in the National Academy of Engineering, Hubbell is the former president of the Society for Biomaterials. Hubbell also is an elected fellow of Biomaterials Science and Engineering, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering.

Earlier in his career, Hubbell received the W.J. Kolff Award for Outstanding Research from the American Society of Artificial Internal Organs, the Outstanding Dow Young Faculty Award from the American Society of Engineering Education, and the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Young Investigator Award.

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