David Needham

+45 65 503 522


Dr. Needham's research program combines the fields of Materials Science with Colloid and Surface Chemistry focusing on "Single (micro- and nano-) Particle Science and Engineering". The program is in the general area of forming, coating and encapsulation of solid, liquid and gaseous particles in the colloidal size.

Professor Needham holds an appointment as a Hans Christian Andersen Visiting Professor (Sept 2012 - Feb 2013) in the Department of Physics Chemistry and Pharmacy, at the University of Southern Denmark.  He has also been awarded a 5 year Danish National Research Foundation Niels Bohr Professorship to establish a Center for Single Particle Science and Engineering at SDU, startimg in January 2013.  He is a tenured full Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Material Science, in the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University, Durham North Carolina, USA, and is a member of the  Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Needham's Lab uses a platform technology of micropipette manipulation to manipulate single and pairs of micro particles in order to assess their behavior in well defined fluids and excipient concentrations. He brings a wealth of expertise in micromanipulation, colloid stability, micromechanics, and drug delivery formulation.

Download full CV here

Research Interests

The Laboratory of Single Particle Science and Engineering focuses on a range of two-phase micro and nano systems.  Of significant importance in the past five years has been the invention, fabrication, and testing, both in vitro and in vivo, (including Human Clinical trials, now in Phase III for Liver Cancer and Phase I/II for Chest Wall Recurrence of breast cancer see http://celsion.com/pages/pipeline), of a new low-temperature sensitive liposome (LTSL) containing the anti-cancer chemotherapeutic, Doxorubicin. This new anti-cancer drug-delivery and drug-releasing system is designed to release  doxorubicin, within seconds upon being heated from a waxy state at body temperatures and below, to its main acyl chain melting transition at around 41C to 42C.  This work has been carried out in close collaboration with researchers and clinicians in the Duke UNiversity Medical enter (DUMC) Hyperthermia Program (Dewhirst PI) as well as by previous independent RO1 funding awarded to Professor Needham.  New research with liposomes includes diagnostic applications using MRI contrast and the formulation of other drugs like cis-platin and other biological modifiers of cancer cell resistance to therapy.  In other systems there is a stong focus on diffusion-solubility, crystallization and solidification of polymers, lipids, proteins, inorganic crystals and drugs from 2 phase Microsystems, including formulating protein nanobeads in degradable PLGA polymer microspheres. Particular applications of these materials and materials processing concepts have been expanded into 3 Small Business Research Initiation Grants from NSF and NIH that aim to develop and commercialize the dehydration technology for enzymes, peptides, and antibodies. We are also interested in new formulations of the more hydrophobic, (and therefore problematic)  drugs as bio-inspired, pure-drug nano-particles that are targeted to internalizing receptors on metastatic tumor cells.


Surface and Colllid science
Biological Materials
Advanced Drug Delivery
Micro- and Nano-material manufacturing and characterization
Polymer and Protein Materials Engineering

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions:

  • DNRF Niels Bohr Professor, SDU(2013 -2017)
  • Hans Christian Andersen Academy Visitig Professor, SDU (2012-2013)
  • National Academy of Sciences Committee on Biomolecular Materials and Processes, Board on Physics and Astronomy National Research Council, the National Academies (2006)
  • Participant:  Institute for Pure and Applied Math, UCLA, Series of Workshops and Tutorials on “Cells and Materials at the Interface between Mathematics, Biology and Engineering”, March 13 - June 16, (2006)
  • Duke Cancer Institute Cancer Leadership Committee, University Representative, (2011)
  • Visiting Professor with IFK, MEMPHYS/MultiCaps, SDU, Denmark (2011)
  • VELUX Visiting Professor Program (2011-12), Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Member, NanoCAN advisory board, Institute for Molecular Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
  • F.I.R.S.T. Award, National Institutes of Health (1988-1993)
  • Alfred M, Hunt Faculty Scholar (1988-1993)
  • NATO/SERC (England) Fellowshp, NATO (1986-1987)
  • Oppenheimer Research Fellowship, Cambridge University (1982-1983)

Representative Publications: (More Publications)

  • D. Needham and D. A. Haydon (1983).  Tensions and free energies of formation of “solventless” lipid bilayers:  measurement of high contact angles.  Biophys. J. 41, 251-257.
  • E. A. Evans and D. Needham (1987). Physical properties of surfactant bilayer membranes:  thermal transitions, elasticity, rigidity, cohesion, and colloidal interactions. J. Phys. Chem. 91, 4219-4228.
  • D. Needham and R. S. Nunn (1990).  Elastic deformation and failure of lipid bilayer membranes containing cholesterol.  Biophys. J., 58, 997-1009.
  • P. F. Kiser, G. Wilson, and D. Needham.  (1998). A Synthetic Mimetic of the Secretory Granule, Nature, 394, 459-462.
  • D. Needham, G. Anyarambhatla, G. Kong, and M. W. Dewhirst.  (2000) A New Temperature-Sensitive Liposome for Use with Mild Hyperthermia: Characterization and Testing in a Human Tumor Xenograft Model.   Cancer Research: Advances in Brief, 60 (5), 1197-1201 
  • M. A. Holden and D. Needham and H. Bayley, Functional bionetworks from nanoliter water droplets, Journal Of The American Chemical Society, vol 129 no. 27 (2007), pp. 8650 -- 8655 [abs].
  • Jonathan T Su, David Needham, (2010) The Effects of Hydrogen Bonding on the Diffusion of Water in n-Alkanes and n-Alcohols Measured with a Novel Single Microdroplet Method, J. Chem Phys Volume: 132 Issue: 4 Page: 044506
  •  Deborah L Rickard, Brent Duncan and David Needham, (2010). Hydration Potential of Lysozyme: Protein Dehydration Using a Single Microparticle Technique, in press,  Biophysical Journal, Volume 98, Issue 6, 17 March 2010, Pages 1075-1084
  • David Needham, (2011).  Lipid structures: A brief history of multisomes, Nature Nanotechnology , News and Views 6, 761–762, Published online, 06 December 2011
  • David Needham, (2012). Micropipette Manipulation of Lipid Bilayer Membranes, Encyclopedia of Biophysics, Springer http://www.springerreference.com/docs/html/chapterdbid/332494.html
  • Ashley A. Manzoor, Lars H. Lindner, Ji-Young Park, Andrew J. Simnick, Matthew R. Dreher, Shiva Das, Gabi Hanna, Won Park, Gerben Koning, Timo ten Hagen, David Needham, Mark W. Dewhirst, (2012).  Overcoming limitations in nanoparticle drug delivery: triggered, intravascular release to improve drug penetration into tumors, accepted for publication Cancer Research.

Courses offeed over the last 25 years include: Surface and Colloid Science; Engineering Materials; Cellular and Biosurface Engineering; Colloids and Surfaces in Environmental Science and Engineering; Biological Materials Science; Soft Wet Materials and Interfaces; Biologically Inspired Materials and Materials Systems; Mapping Engineering onto Biology.

For more infromation about Needham's evolving educational methods see "EDU-Kation"

also for a recent article see http://www.pratt.duke.edu/pratt_press/web.php?sid=304&iid=34