Kathryn Uhrich

2007 Regional Award Finalist — Faculty

Kathryn Uhrich

Current Position:
Dean of College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

University of California, Riverside (Previously at Rutgers University)

Polymer Chemistry

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise:  Biomaterials; Biodegradable Polymers; Drug Delivery



PhD, Cornell University
BS, University of North Dakota 

In 2007, when Dr. Uhrich was presented with her Blavatnik Award, her research was divided into two areas: i) amphiphilic macromolecules (AMs) designed to encapsulate and transport drugs and ii) biocompatible polymers that degrade into salicylic acid (SA). Since then, both research areas have expanded and evolved. 

For the AMs, Dr. Uhrich and her colleagues demonstrated that these systems enhance delivery of anticancer drugs and effectively delivery siRNA into cancer cells.  The dramatic change was their observation that AMs control cellular update of LDL and inhibit athero-inflammation.  Dr. Uhrich now designs anti-atherogenic polymers that target macrophage receptors and mitigate LDL uptake.

For the SA-based polymers, her team demonstrated the controlled release of SA by manipulating the polymer composition and formulation. For SA-based polymers, the most notable update is the bone regeneration that occurs when a low, localized concentration of SA is placed in a bone defect, which is particularly significant in diabetic animals.   The major innovation has been the ability to incorporate a wide range of bioactives into polymers for specific applications – antiseptics for surface treatments, anti-oxidants for skin/personal care, common NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, and opiates for chronic pain. In both research areas, Dr. Uhrich is concurrently transferring the technology via licensing, research collaborations and/or start-up companies.

 “The long term goal of my research group is to design biocompatible, biodegradable polymers that will improve human health.  Given that our starting materials are derived from natural sources, we also consider green chemistry approaches to the polymer life-cycle.”

Key Publications:

  1. Wada, K; Yu, W; Elazizi, M; Barakat, S; Ouimet, MA; Rosario-Meléndez, R; Fiorellini, JP; Graves, DT; Uhrich, KE. Impact of Locally Delivered Salicylic Acid from a Poly (anhydride-ester) on Bone Regeneration in Diabetic Rats. J Controlled Release. 2013
  2. Rosario-Meléndez, R; Harris, CL; Delgado-Rivera, R; Yu, L: Uhrich, KE. PolyMorphine: an innovative biodegradable polymer drug for extended pain relief.  J Controlled Rel. 2012
  3. Hehir, S; Plourde, NM; Gu, L; Poree, DE: Welsh, W; Moghe, PV; Uhrich, KE. Carbohydrate Composition of Amphiphilic Macromolecules Influences Physicochemical Properties and Binding to Atherogenic Scavenger Receptor A. Acta Biomat. 2012

Other Honors:

2014 Fellow, National Academy of Inventors
2013 Fellow, American Chemical Society
2013 Common Pathways Award, NJ Association for Biomedical Research
2012 Sioux Award, University of North Dakota

In the Media:

ARROWS initiative launches at BU, sheds light on inequality in STEM fields. The Daily Free Press.  November 17, 2014