Blanka Sharma, Ph.D., assistant professor, has been named the recipient of the 2019-2020 Pramod P. Khargonekar Junior Faculty Award for Excellence. This recognition is awarded each year at the conclusion of the tenure process to the tenure candidate who best reflects the following leadership attributes exhibited by Dr. Khargonekar, former Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Florida: excellence in scholarship and teaching, outstanding mentorship of students, impact in her/his research field and exceptional potential for growth.
Sharma’s research program investigates fundamental material-cell interactions at multiple length scales to guide the development of targeted drug and cell delivery systems for applications in both regenerative medicine and cancer. At this intersection lies the dysfunctional inflammatory mechanisms that propagate tumor development as well as degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis. Sharma’s research seeks to understand the role of specific immune cells and inflammatory mechanisms in tissue pathology and develop therapeutic approaches to direct inflammatory mechanisms in a site-specific manner. For a given application, her group engineers biomaterials to enable therapeutic cells or molecules to overcome specific physiological barriers so they can successfully reach their tissue target.