The Importance of Zeta Potential for Drug/Gene Delivery in Nanomedicine

By James Leary

Biomedical Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Published on


Keynote Address


Dr. Leary's research and teaching career as a professor spans more than 32 years. His original training includes an aerospace engineering degree from M.I.T., postgraduate work in space physics and a Ph.D. in Biophysics from Penn State University with a postdoctoral fellowship at Los Alamos National Laboratory. His research has been funded by NIH for more than 25 years. He is the holder of 9 issued U.S. Patents, with 6 currently pending, and is the author of more than 125 papers in the fields of high-throughput technologies, minimal residual disease monitoring, developmental immunology, cancer research, and nanomedicine. Dr. Leary has served on numerous national expert review panels for more than 30 years and is a frequently invited speaker at national and international scientific conferences, where he has made more than 200 presentations.

After 27 years as a Professor in medical schools at the University of Rochester and the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Dr. Leary moved to Purdue on July 1, 2005 and became the SVM (School of Veterinary Medicine) Endowed Professor of Nanomedicine and a tenured full professor in the Department of Basic Medical Sciences and the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. He is also a Member of the Bindley Biosciences Center, Purdue Cancer Center, Oncological Sciences Center, and the Birck Nanotechnology Center at Discovery Park where his laboratories are located. In 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the AIMBE (American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering), the highest honorary for biomedical engineers in the United States, for his pioneering work in the invention of high-speed flow cytometry and rare-event analysis as well as his more recent work in the design of bionanomedical systems.

Dr. Leary’s currently active research is in two general areas: (1) development of new high-throughput and BioMEMS microfluidic technologies for genomics, proteomics, and drug discovery, and (2) development of smart, nano-engineered systems for single-cell drug/gene delivery for nanomedicine.

Research Interests – My research spans multiple areas but has a common thread of studying cells quantitatively at the single cell level. Over the past 36 years I have been developing high-throughput flow and imaging cytometry methods for quantitative characterization of single cells for a wide variety of biomedical applications in cancer detection and treatment, and in ophthalmology. For the past 8 years I have been working on portable, point-of-care, microfluidics-based devices. For more than 10 years I have been developing medical devices at the nanoscale for a variety of biomedical applications in nanomedicine. As part of this research in nanomedicine, where I have authored or co-authored 27 papers, my research has focused on the development of multilayered, smart nanoparticles for drug/gene delivery to targeted diseased cells. Important to these studies has been the design and monitoring of the size and zeta potentials for these nanodevices, since cell-nanoparticle interactions are fundamentally driven by the zeta potentials of both the cells and the nanoparticles.

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • James Leary (2012), "The Importance of Zeta Potential for Drug/Gene Delivery in Nanomedicine,"

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