Education and Work
Peppas was educated in chemical engineering at the National Technical University of Athens (D. Eng., 1971) and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sc.D., 1973) under the direction of bioengineering pioneer Edward W. Merrill. Subsequently, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Arteriosclerosis Center of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under world biomedical leaders Clark K. Colton, Kenneth A. Smith and Robert S. Lees.
He is the Fletcher Stuckey Pratt Chair in Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin and Chairman of the Biomedical Engineering Department. He has been at the University of Texas at Austin since December 2002 and is also serving as the Director of the Center of Biomaterials, Drug Delivery, Bionanotechnology and Molecular Recognition with appointments in the Department of Chemical Engineering, the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the College of Pharmacy at the University of Texas at Austin. Previously, he was the Showalter Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University.
Peppas is a leading researcher, inventor and pacesetter in the field of drug delivery and controlled release, a field that he developed into a mature area of scholarly research. He is also a leader in biomaterials and bionanotechnology, and has contributed seminal work in the fields of feedback controlled biomedical devices and molecular recognition. The multidisciplinary approach of his research in bionanotechnology and biomolecular engineering blends modern molecular and cellular biology with engineering to generate the next-generation of medical systems and devices, including bioMEMS with enhanced applicability, reliability, functionality, and longevity. His contributions have been translated into more than twenty medical products.
Peppas is a member of the US Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences, the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE), the Académie Nationale of France, the Real Academia Nacional de Farmacia of Spain and the Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Sciences of Texas (TAMEST). Very few chemical engineers are members of both NAE and IOM (the others being Frances Arnold, Mark Davis and David A. Tirrell of the California Institute of Technology, Rakesh Jain of Harvard, Robert Langer of MIT, and his former student Kristi Anseth of the University of Colorado). He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Ghent (Belgium, 1999), the University of Parma (Italy, 2000), the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens(Greece, 2000) and the University of Ljubljana.
He is President of the International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering (2008–2016). He has served as a Director of the Biomedical Engineering Society (2008–2011), Chair of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE, 2006–2007), President of the Society for Biomaterials (SFB, 2003–2004), President of the Controlled Release Society (CRS, 1987–1988), Director of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE, 1999-2002), Chairman of the Materials Division of AIChE (1988–90) and Director of the Bioengineering Division of AIChE (1994–97). Peppas was Editor of the leading biomaterials science journal Biomaterials from 1982 to 2002 and an Associate Editor of the AIChE Journal, from 2009-2012. Presently, he is the Editor-in-Chief of the Wiley/SFB biomaterials Book Series, an Associate Editor of Biomedical Microdevices, a Consulting Editor of Pharmaceutical Research and an Associate Editor of the Cambridge University Press Biomedical Series.
He is an inaugural Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society, an inaugural Fellow of the Materials Research Society (MRS), an inaugural Fellow of the CRS, a founding Fellow of AIMBE, a Fellow of the American Chemical Society, Fellow of the Society for Biomaterials, a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Fellow of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS), a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, a Fellow of the American Society for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a Fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and an Honorary fellow of the Italian Society of Medicine and Natural Sciences.
He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Geneva, University of Paris-Sud (Orsay/Chatenay-Malabry), University of Parma, University of Pavia, University of Naples Federico II, Free University of Berlin, University of Santiago de Compostela, Complutense University of Madrid, Hoshi University, Tokyo, Hacettepe University, Ankara, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and the California Institute of Technology.
Peppas is a leading scientist of modern drug delivery. He has helped to set the fundamentals and rational design of drug delivery systems and biomaterials over the past 37 years. He was the first to set the theories and equations that led to the design of a wide range of new systems. For example, using biomedical engineering principles and new biomedical transport theories, Peppas developed the equations that describe Fickian and non-Fickian diffusion of drugs, peptides and proteins in controlled release devices. The “Peppas equation” has become the standard method of analysis of pharmaceutical formulations or systems. His earliest work also led to the development of a number of swelling-controlled release devices for the release of small molecular weight drugs. Using the modeling similarities of phase erosion and state erosion, he developed a unified model for all drug delivery systems. Similarly, he developed the theoretical framework for the analysis of transport through crosslinked biomaterials (the Peppas-Reinhart theory, ionic hydrogels (the Brannon-Peppas theory), and gel-tissue interactions via tethers (the Huang-Peppas theory and the Sahlin-Peppas equation). For the profound impact of these theories and analyses, Peppas has been recognized as the most cited and highly published author in “drug delivery”, “biomaterials and drug delivery”, and “intelligent materials”. He is listed as a Highly Cited ResearcherSM of Thomson Scientific and the Institute of Scientific Information. He has also ranked as one of the most cited chemical and biomedical engineers with 48,000 citations and an H-index of 107.
Applications of his theories and mathematical models have had a profound effect in the field. Peppas and his students originated the novel muco- and bioadhesive systems that interact molecularly with the mucus and tissue and have been able to prolong bioavailability of proteins and peptides in the blood. As a result of his work, a number of biomedical polymers and commercial delivery devices have been launched. Peppas was the first to develop novel toxic-free poly(vinyl alcohol) gels by the freezing-thawing technique in 1975. These gels became very successful articular cartilage replacement systems. In 1978, he developed the same systems for in situ replacement of vocal cords. In 1979 his group pioneered the use of hydrogels in drug delivery applications, including epidermal bioadhesive systems and systems for the release of theophylline, proxyphylline, diltiazem, and oxprenolol. Peppas’ lab has developed new technologies of oral delivery systems for insulin and other proteins. These devices release insulin orally, “protecting” the insulin throughout its transport in the stomach, upper small intestine, and, eventually, blood, and bypassing diabetics’ need for several daily injections. The same technology has been used for the transmucosal (oral, buccal) delivery of calcitonin (for treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women) and interferon-alpha (for cancer therapy), and is presently investigated for interferon-beta release for multiple sclerotic patients. Peppas was one of the pioneers of intelligent biomaterials, and medical devices. Using intelligent polymers as early as 1980, Peppas and his group were the first to use such pH-sensitive and temperature-sensitive systems for modulated release of streptokinase and other fibrinolytic enzymes.
Peppas has founded three companies: Mimetic Solutions, a company that commercializes recognitive systems and is in the forefront of intelligent device and bioMEMs development, Appian Labs and CoraDyn Biosystems for the commercialization of various pharmaceutical products and medical devices. He is the author of 1,200 publications, and numerous proceedings papers and abstracts. He is the coauthor or coeditor of 37 books, including the three-volume Hydrogels in Medicine and Pharmacy (CRC Press, 1987), the monograph Pulsatile Drug Delivery (WSGS, Stuttgart, 1993), two books on Biopolymers (Springer, 1994), the monograph Molecular and Cellular Foundations of Biomaterials (Academic Press, 2004), the book Intelligent Therapeutics: Biomimetic Systems and Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery (Elsevier, 2004), the monograph Nanotechnology in Therapeutics (Horizon Press, 2007) and the book Chronobiology and Drug Delivery (Elsevier, 2007).
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