The Engine Appoints MIT Institute Professor Paula Hammond to Its Board of Directors
Today, The Engine, the venture firm spun out of MIT that invests in early-stage Tough Tech companies solving the world’s most urgent problems, announced the appointment of Paula Hammond to its Board of Directors. Hammond has been a leader at MIT and professor of chemical engineering for over 25 years and is currently the head of the MIT Department of Chemical Engineering and an MIT Institute Professor, the highest honor bestowed upon a faculty member at MIT. She brings to The Engine entrepreneurial experience and a deep background in macromolecular design and synthesis, targeted drug delivery for cancer, nanoscale assembly of synthetic biomaterials, electrostatic and directed materials assembly.
Hammond’s career highlights include the development of “stealth polymers” to disguise cancer chemotherapeutics contained in nanoparticles so that they can reach tumors, design of a bandage that rapidly clots blood on major wounds to prevent blood loss, and development of LayerForm™ technology to build drug delivery films with alternating drug and polymer layers. In 2013, she co-founded a biotechnology company, LayerBio Inc. to commercialize LayerForm™ for regenerative medicine applications. She has worked on the development of polymers for use in batteries, thin films of carbon nanotubes that can be used in batteries, solar cells, and fuel cells. Along with her colleague Angela Belcher, she presented her research on virus-based batteries to President Barack Obama in 2009.
“The Board is absolutely thrilled to welcome Paula to our board,” said Katie Rae, CEO and Managing Partner at The Engine. “Her impressive career as an engineer and co-founder creating technology that can help save lives, coupled with her impact on the MIT community, enables Paula to bring passion and experience that will benefit our Tough Tech founders in their journeys and help guide the firm in our continued growth.”
Hammond received her Ph.D. in 1993 from MIT in chemical engineering with her thesis research focused on synthesizing polymers with mechanochromic properties. After completing her Ph.D., she was appointed an assistant professor, working with her lab to design polymers and nanoparticles for applications in drug delivery, wound healing, and energy and fuel cells. She is also co-founder of The Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies – a team encompassing MIT, the U.S. Army, and industry working together to discover and field technologies that dramatically advance soldier protection and survivability capabilities. She co-authored a paper, with fellow MIT professor Darrell Irvine, in 2014 on a novel material for drug delivery which is the science at the core of The Engine’s portfolio company, Vaxess, a biotechnology company developing vaccines and therapeutics delivered through a next-generation sustained-release intradermal microneedle patch.
“I have followed The Engine’s work closely during my time at MIT and through my collaboration with its portfolio company, Vaxess. Now more than ever, the mission of The Engine is vital and world changing,” said Hammond. “Supporting Tough Tech companies is crucial as we work to address today’s most pressing challenges; I’ve seen this firsthand through my nearly three decades of work in human health and energy technologies. I look forward to being more intimately involved with The Engine and its founders.”
Hammond has received awards and recognition over the course of her career, and has been elected to all three National Academies – Engineering, Science, and Medicine. In 2019, Hammond received the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Margaret H. Rousseau Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement by a Woman Chemical Engineer. She has also received the ETH Zurich Chemical Engineering Medal, the American Chemical Society Award in Applied Polymer Science, among others. She’s been elected fellow at AIChE, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, ACS Division of Polymer Chemistry, AIMBE, and Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute.