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David William Grainger, PhD

Languages spoken: German

Academic Information

Departments: Bioengineering - Professor, Dentistry - Adjunct Professor, Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry - Distinguished Professor

Academic Office Information


Research Interests

  • Palliative Care
  • Cancer Prevention
  • Plant Physiology or Morphology
  • Plant Virology
  • Electronic Warfare
  • Handicapped Vocational Service
  • Interleukins
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Radiotherapy
  • Biodiversity
  • Pharmacotherapy

David W. Grainger is a University Distinguished Professor and Department Chair of Biomedical Engineering, and Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Utah. Grainger received his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Utah in 1987 studying blood-compatible polymers. He then received an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship to perform postdoctoral research under Prof. Helmut Ringsdorf, University of Mainz, Germany. This training initiated over 25 years of experience with various aspects of developing “materials in medicine”. Grainger’s research expertise is focused on improving implanted medical device performance, drug delivery of new therapeutic proteins, nucleic acids and live vaccines, nanomaterials interactions with human tissues, low-infection biomaterials, and innovating diagnostic devices based on DNA and protein biomarker capture. Additionally, he is an expert in applications of surface analytical methods to biomedical interfaces, including analytical methods development for difficult organic surface patterns and nanomaterials, and also internationally recognized as an expert of perfluorinated thin films and biomaterials.

Grainger has published ~220 research papers and 30 book chapters on biomaterials innovation in medicine and biotechnology, and novel surface and diagnostics chemistry (H-index 63, 15,100 citations). He has won research several awards, including the 2013 Excellence in Surface Science Award from the Surfaces in Biomaterials Foundation, the prestigious 2007 Clemson Award for Basic Research, Society for Biomaterials, and the 2005 American Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturer’s Association’s award for “Excellence in Pharmaceutics”. He won a 2016 Fulbright Senior Scholar Award to New Zealand, a short-term visiting professorship in Tokyo from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, and a CNRS Visiting Professorship in Paris, France. He has also received several teaching awards for outstanding mentoring and teaching service, including the Daniels Fund Leadership in Ethics Education Award, University of Utah 2010 Distinguished Postdoctoral and Graduate Student Mentoring Award, the US West/Qwest Faculty Education Excellence Award (Colorado State University, 2000), Colorado State University College of Natural Sciences "Undergraduate Teacher of the Year", 2000, Colorado State University Alumni Association "Teacher of the Year", 2002, and several “Favorite Faculty” Awards from CSU Undergraduate Student Associations. In 2014, Grainger delivered the 58th Annual Edward T. Smith lecture at the University of Texas-Houston Department of Orthopedic Surgery, and also the “Dr. K.T. Dholakia” oration, “Challenges in translating antimicrobial technologies to orthopedic implants”, as part of the Bombay Orthopedic Society’s annual meeting in Mumbai, India,, He provided the EU Madame Curie guest lectures at the Technical University-Aachen, Germany in 2009 and the 15th Annual Fritz Straumann lecture, AO Foundation, Davos, Switzerland, December, 2008.

Grainger is an elected Fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), and Inducted Honorary Fellow, International Union of the Societies of Biomaterials Science and Engineering, 2008. He has co-organized 32 international scientific symposia, including the prestigious Gordon Research Conference in Biomaterials, and has presented over 390 invited lectures and outreach workshops all over the world. Grainger also regularly lectures in international graduate summer schools and EU courses. He has served as Chair of several prominent USA research review panels and completed a term on the National Institutes of Health NIBIB Advisory Council. He serves on the editorial boards for 6 major journals, past handling editor for the journal, Biomaterials, for nearly two decades, and a special topics editor for Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews. He is past-Chair and former member of Emerging Bioanalytical Technologies scientific review group (SRG) at NIH, past standing member on the NIH’s Surgery and Bioengineering SRG, and over 20 other NIH and NSF review panels, some as chair. Additionally, he served on the Scientific Advisory Boards of the Univ. Wisconsin-Madison NSF MRSEC on High Performance Nanostructured Materials, the AO Foundation, Davos, Switzerland, the EMPA, Switzerland, and the Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapy at the Charité Research Center, Berlin, Germany, and other past roles on SABs for Swiss Center for Materials Competence, Zurich, Waseda University ASMeW Research Center, Tokyo Japan, the NIH P41 National Surface Analysis Center, University of Washington (NESAC/Bio), and the NSF Harvard/New Mexico NSF PREM MRSEC. Grainger consults widely for the biomedical device and pharmaceutical industry and has been a principal in 6 biotech start-ups, some with successful commercialization efforts with marketed products. Grainger continues to emphasize translational approaches to clinical biomaterials, and validation of clinical effectiveness in implants and drug delivery systems for value-based medicine. His leadership is sought in his official Scientific Advisory Board roles on several international medical technology research consortia and research foundations.

He enjoys playing piano, fly fishing Western rivers and streams, riding bicycles, and ski mountaineering in his free time.

Research Statement

My research interests and group focus on the crossroads of materials and medicine. I am interested in the thematic as well as literal interfaces of biomaterials and living systems. This translates to study and innovation in medical diagnostic systems and bioassays, medical implant designs and improvement using innovative biomaterials and on-baord drug delivery, implant-related infections, surface analysis in biomedical systems, drug delivery systems for proteins and vaccines, and novel surface modification strategies. I have substantial experience in technology transfer, industrial technology translation, consulting, expert witness and technical writing in diverse aspects of medical and drug delivery technology. I have run numerous technical short courses for industrial and academic audiences upon request. I am routinely invited to speak at government advisory, academic and industrial forums, panels, workshops, and working groups.

Global Impact

Awards & Honors

Description Country
Invited named Tsinghua Xuetang Fellow Lecture, “Chemistry Impacts and Challenges in Modern Medical Technology,” China