PhD Spotlight: Caterina Bartomeu Garcia, PhD’22, Chemical Engineering

Originally from ­­­­­­Spain, Caterina Bartomeu Garcia earned her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, and master’s degree in nanoscience materials and processes at Universitat Rovira i Virgili. In 2017, she began pursuing a PhD in chemical engineering at Northeastern.

Advised by Professor and Chair Rebecca Willits, Bartomeu Garcia’s research focused on the development of novel drug delivery systems for the treatment of brain infections such as bacterial meningitis. A significant challenge for current brain disease treatments is the poor permeability of drugs through the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Her research aimed to develop and characterize a pH-sensitive liposomal drug delivery system with a cell-penetrating peptide to both increase the encapsulated drug’s permeability and improve its stability in presence of a bacterial infection. In vitro studies showed great bactericidal properties against two of the main bacteria that cause meningitis, with no cytotoxic effect against two of the main cells that form the BBB. Promising permeability results were obtained with a 2D infection BBB model, suggesting that these liposomal systems represent a potential alternative to the use of antibiotics alone.

Bartomeu Garcia has one publication in the International Journal of Nanomedicine. She has collaborated on many other projects focused on material science, such as the surface modification of ceramics and stainless-steel surgical materials to improve their biocompatibility, reduce their degradation and prevent bacteria adhesion and proliferation. These collaborations during her PhD resulted in five peer-review publications. She has also presented her research in multiple conferences, including the Society for Biomaterials annual meeting in Seattle (2019), TechConnect World Innovation Conference in Boston (2019) and the American Institute for Chemical Engineering annual meeting in Boston (2020). She was an invited speaker in the Frontiers in Nanomedicine & Drug Delivery meeting in London (2019). In 2022, Northeastern University awarded her the Dissertation Completion Fellowship.

Bartomeu Garcia is currently working as a scientist at Repertoire Immune Medicines in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She continues to work with drug delivery systems, now focused on the delivery of novel mRNA technologies for the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as diabetes type 1 and multiple sclerosis.

Related Faculty: Rebecca Willits

Related Departments:Chemical Engineering