MAISIM

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Massachusetts Initiative for Synthetic Immunological Materials

 

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MAISIM

Materials-based immunological engineering is an emergent scientific area, distinct from classical biomaterials engineering, now attracting the attention of biomedical, biotech, and pharma sectors.  Immunological materials target a systemic response within an organism, starting with controlled communication between engineered materials and immune cells and, ultimately, exploiting the complex interactive feedback cascade between the immune system and other tissues.

A distinguishing feature of immuno-modulatory materials research is that significant scientific discoveries require early collaborations between materials specialists and immunologists.  Interest in immuno-modulatory materials can be attributed to their potential to transform treatment of diverse classes of disease: malignancy (tumors propagate when cancer evades the immune system), autoimmune disorders (more than 90 recognized types, affecting 50 million Americans), complications from implants/ transplants, and pathogens that circumvent the development of a protective immune response. These are global health issues, where treatment and prevention (including vaccine development) may have the greatest impact.  Because of the global origins of the technical challenges amenable immuno-modulatory materials-based solutions, the field is gaining momentum in research labs around the world. Thus immuno-modulatory materials research (and the commercialization and implementation of relevant technologies) is becoming a global enterprise.

The newly-formed Massachusetts Initiative for Synthetic Immunological Materials (MAISIM), affirms UMass’s commitment to leadership of this growth area and provides the infrastructure to propel cross-disciplinary collaborative research, educational, and entrepreneurial endeavors at the materials-immune system junction.

MAISIM integrates UMass’s strength in Advanced Materials throughout the Colleges of Natural Science and of Engineering (51 materials faculty and $25 million research dollars annually, a top-ranked polymer science department, an NSF MRSEC on polymers, and an NSF-NSEC) and in the Life Sciences, (159 faculty, $30 million in annual research funding (including 20M from NIH annually), a cluster hire of 4 new faculty, and ties to UMass Medical School, Baystate Health System, and Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute (PVLSI).