PoND (Polymer Nanoparticles for Drug Delivery)
PoND (Polymer Nanoparticles for Drug Delivery) is a CREATE (The Collaborative Research and Training Experience) training program created in response to a growing urgency for better strategies for chronic disease treatment as the average age of Canadians continues to rise. Although the design and discovery of new therapeutic molecules will continue to play a role in treating Canadians with chronic conditions, it is increasingly recognized that a vital key to the future of disease treatment is making existing drugs safer and more specific. Polymer nanoparticles are probably the most widely studied drug delivery systems due to their stability and extensive variability of properties. At the heart of drug delivery materials research are numerous multiscale scientific problems that span the disciplines of physics, chemistry and biology, from molecular-level structure and dynamics to macroscopic animal imaging in relevant models. A critical training gap in this socially- and economically-vital research sector has arisen from the traditional focus of academic research groups on one or two of these problems, without a truly comprehensive multiscale approach. PoND bridges this gap by providing comprehensive and cutting-edge training with an industrial focus at all levels of the drug delivery problem. The program combines 8 academic researchers from across Canada (Victoria, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City) each with complementary expertise in distinct areas of drug delivery research, along with various Canadian and international companies providing industrial training focus through internships, mentoring, and training module participation. The unique graduate program is based on four training pillars: 1) Training modules and capstone courses; 2) Interdisciplinary research; 3) Industrial internships; and 4) PoND Research Days. Based on these four training pillars, PoND trainees obtain a critical balance of scientific knowledge, technical proficiency, problem-solving ability, industrial perspective, and professional "soft skills", making them uniquely "employer-ready" for a strong and growing Canadian pharmaceuticals/drug delivery sector.