Dr. Stefano Menegatti, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University, has received the Faculty Early Career Development award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award, known as the NSF CAREER Award, is one of the highest honors given by NSF to young faculty in science and engineering.
NSF will provide $509,930 in funding over five years to support his project, “Light- and temperature-controlled peptide ligands for purifying blood factors and orphan enzyme drugs.” This research is supported by NSF’s Chemical and Biological Separations program in the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems.
Menegatti’s project aims to develop a new paradigm for the purification of labile protein drugs, with the aim of improving production volumes and decreasing manufacturing costs. To this end, the awarded research project aims to develop light- and temperature-controlled synthetic ligands that selectively capture labile target proteins and release them upon exposure to infrared light or lower temperature.
The project will include training of a graduate student and interaction with a high school teacher hired through the prestigious Kenan Fellowship program. Menegatti will interact with biotech industries through the Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center (BTEC) at NC State to disseminate the results of his research and create collaborations aimed toward marketable products.
His research interests include stimuli-responsive peptides and peptide mimetics, and hydrogel-based materials for drug delivery and cell engineering. His research group is currently focusing on protein-peptide affinity interactions with applications in bioseparations and diagnostics as well as drug delivery and design.
Menegatti received a B.S. (2006) and M.S. (2008) in chemical engineering at the University di Bologna in Italy, and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at NC State (2013).