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National Science Foundation HomeNational Science Foundation - Directorate for Engineering (ENG)
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Engineering Better Health - 1

NSF support for Engineering Better Health includes

• Developing new technologies and processes to improve health care quality and reduce costs, such as
technologies for less invasive diagnostics and for more precise delivery of drugs to target tissues

• Designing novel structures and materials, such as ceramic joints and artificial skin

• Developing models and tools to understand and control biological systems, such as bioengineering
approaches to creating new antibiotics and anticancer drugs

Imagine a future . . .
in which the endless bounty of nature is transformed into powerful new antibiotics
and cancer-fighting drugs manufactured quickly and cost-effectively by bacteria.

NSF-supported researcher Chaitan Khosla of Stanford University is pioneering an exciting new approach to the production of novel antimicrobial and anticancer drugs from bioengineered organisms. Working at the crossroads of chemistry, biology, and chemical engineering, he is developing products that could not have been conceived of a few years ago.

Khosla is redesigning bacteria to produce more effective compounds for fighting human diseases. His techniques provide a faster, lower-cost method of creating new and improved variants of already-known natural drugs.

Kosan Biosciences, Inc., a start-up firm co-founded by Khosla, is working with pharmaceutical companies to advance the most promising drug candidates. Two anticancer compounds,
KOS-862 and 17-AAG, are now in clinical trials.

Among the first to spot Khosla’s promise, NSF-ENG provided this gifted researcher with his first federal grant in 1992. Khosla received continued NSF support throughout the 1990s under programs designed to afford outstanding young science and
engineering faculty greater freedom to pursue cutting-edge research.

 

Created with support from NSF, a bioengineered version of the natural tumor-fighter geldanamycin (green) attacks a cancer-promoting protein called Hsp-90 (gold and blue).

 

“For virtually every new technology that has emerged from my lab, the pivotal discovery or technical capacity that made it possible can be traced back to an exploratory project funded by NSF. The opportunities provided by NSF funding have been of paramount importance to my work.”

Chaitan Khosla, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, and Biochemistry,
Stanford University, and co-founder of Kosan Biosciences, Inc.


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