Associate Professor, Materials Science and Engineering
Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering - GIDP
Dr. Romanowski's research interest is in the development of nanotechnology for biological and medical applications. Of particular interest in the medical field are new methods of delivery of therapeutic and diagnostic agents, with improved efficacy and low toxicity. In his laboratory they prepare and manipulate materials on the nanometer scale, appropriate for interrogation of cellular functions in cancer, imaging, and surgeries. This work, funded primarily by NIH and NSF, has been made possible by the unique interdisciplinary environment fostered by the Biomedical Engineering Department and the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona.
His work on translating physics into medical products have huge implications for the evolution of personalized medicine. On cue, a tiny pillbox of gold floating in your bloodstream can deliver its medicine exactly to the right cell, one that is sick with cancer, avoiding all of your healthy cells. A gold capsule – about 50 to 200 nanometers in diameter, large enough to do the work of transporting a few molecules of medicine and respond to light signals – is too large to pass out through the kidneys. But on command by an enzyme, it can fall apart into pieces smaller than 10 nanometers, just a few molecules. The new size can easily leave our bodies at no risk. The gold pillbox has many other possible applications. In addition to delivering a drug, it can become a part of a diagnostic test, or deliver genetic material to a cell to permanently modify the cells’ DNA—a key step in gene therapy.
Dr. Romanowski's experience spanning 25 years of research and development labs in pharmaceutical industry and academic research, has helped him in providing an environment particularly conducive to training students of different educational backgrounds and career goals in science and engineering. He participates in several NIH programs focused on mentoring underrepresented groups, including MARC (Maximizing Access to Research Careers), Minority Health Disparities Program, Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD), Diversity Supplement to a Program Project Grant (P01).
As a member of the University of Arizona Cancer Center Dr. Romanowski participates in the Cancer Imaging program by developing technologies for intraoperative imaging and image-guided delivery of therapies.