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Pings Lecture Addresses Peptide Materials Engineering

Mork Family Department Hosts New Lecture to Honor the Late Provost and Chemical Engineer

April 04, 2008 — Medical research will benefit greatly from the development of new peptide materials to solve some of today’s most challenging diseases, such as HIV and cancer.  Professor Matthew Tirrell, dean of engineering at UC Santa Barbara, discussed some of the latest laboratory work in this area April 3 as guest speaker for the new Mork Family Department Pings Lecture, established in honor of the late Cornelius J. Pings, a prominent chemical engineer and former USC provost.
Lecture VIPs, from left to right, included Viterbi School Prof. Joe Qin; Mork Department Chair Theodore Tsotsis; Lecturer UC Santa Barbara Engineering Dean Matthew Tirrell; and Viterbi School professor Muhammad Sahimi.

Peptides are functional modules of protein macromolecules that can be displayed apart from the whole protein to create biofunctional surfaces and interfaces, or can be re-assembled in new ways to create synthetic mimics of protein structures. Each of these routes are being pursued to gain new insight into protein folding and to develop new, functional, biomolecular materials, Tirrell said. Studies focus on using peptide-lipid conjugate molecules (peptide amphiphiles) and relating them to multi-functional surfaces; liposomal drug delivery; protein analogous micelles; and DNA-binding peptide modules and anti-microbial peptides.

Tirrell, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers, the AAAS, and the APS, conducts research in polymer surface properties, adsorption, adhesion, surface treatment, friction, lubrication and biocompatibility. Co-author of approximately 270 papers and a book on the subject, Tirrell has been a Sloan and a Guggenheim Fellow, a recipient of the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award and has received the Allan P. Colburn, Charles Stine, William H. Walker and the Professional Progress
Guest speaker and UC Santa Barbara Engineering School Dean Matthew Tirrell, left, joins Marjorie Pings, widow of the former USC provost and lecture's namesake (Cornelius J. Pings), and Viterbi School Dean Yannis C. Yortsos, right.
Awards from AIChE.  In 2003, he concluded two years of service as co-chair of the steering committee for the National Research Council’s investigation, "Beyond the Molecular Frontier: Challenges for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering."  
Tirrell received his B.S. in chemical engineering at Northwestern University and Ph.D. in 1977 in polymer science from the University of Massachusetts. From 1977 to 1999 he was on the faculty of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota, where he served as head of the department from 1995 to 1999.

The Pings Lecture was established by the USC Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science to honor Pings’ many academic and administrative achievements.  Pings served as USC provost and senior vice president for academic affairs from 1981 to 1993, and later served as president of the Association of American Universities.