Painting the Future of Drug Delivery
US Army combat veteran Luis Alvarez has developed a new drug delivery technology that can convert any recombinant protein into a material-binding variant. Here, we find out how the tech can help coat implants and enable long-term local delivery.
James Strachan | | Interview
From war to drug delivery. Tell us more…
I always loved science and I knew from an early age that I wanted to go into something related to biotech. But when I was younger, I also wanted to serve – and figured that was best while I was still young! My original plan was to serve for around five years and then go off to grad school to begin my second career.
After high school, I went straight into the military academy, where I majored in chemistry and life sciences. Normally, when you graduate from the military academy at West Point, you enter military service, but I was able to obtain the Hertz Foundation Fellowship, which allowed me to spend two years at graduate school. I then went back into regular military service, serving in infantry and cavalry units. While deployed in Baghdad, Iraq, I saw many serious injuries – injuries that would influence my research later down the line. After deployment, I used the remaining years of support from the Hertz Foundation Fellowship to do a PhD at MIT – so I was on active duty the whole time I was studying.
I was fortunate enough to have the flexibility within the military to pursue assignments that were technical in nature; I was able to serve in the Research and Development Command for the US Army, which allowed me to continue with military service while completing three technically connected programs within the biopharma space.
A military career and a scientific career are not a very common combination – and actually I don’t recommend it because of the difficulties of navigating the requirements for each – but it worked out for me.
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