Bret earned his BS in biochemistry and BSe in chemical engineering from the University of Iowa in 2006 and his PhD in chemical engineering with a graduate minor in immunobiology from Iowa State University in 2010. As an undergraduate, Bret conducted research in a number of laboratories in a variety of departments including biochemistry, radiology, mechanical engineering, and chemical engineering. As a senior, he worked with Professor Allan Guymon and Dr. Jason Clapper synthesizing biodegradable polymeric shunts to treat eye diseases, igniting a passion for biomaterials-based research. As a graduate student at Iowa State University, Bret worked for Professor Balaji Narasimhan creating polyanhydride nanoparticles for use as single-dose intranasal vaccine delivery vehicles. After earning his PhD, Bret spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow under the advisement of Professor Cato Laurencin at the University of Connecticut Health Center conducting localized anesthetic delivery and musculoskeletal regenerative engineering research.
Bret joined the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering in 2012 as a postdoctoral scholar working with Professor Matthew Tirrell. His research focuses on the immunotherapy applications of peptide amphiphile micelle technology. Bret's long-term interests include the design of novel biomodulatory materials to improve health care technologies.
As the biomaterials community tackles grand challenges like intracellular drug delivery and complex tissue regeneration, minimalist strategies of the past that employ inert biomaterials serving a singular function are suboptimal. Instead novel, multi-dimensional strategies need to be developed in order to achieve the next series of breakthroughs in biomedical research. Bret's research focuses on the design and development of a new class of biomaterials termed biomodulatory materials whose physicochemical properties allow for them to directly modulate cell and host responses. Biomodulatory materials have the potential to impact a number of fields with Bret's personal interest focusing on immunoengineering, cancer therapy, and regenerative engineering. As a member of the Tirrell group, Bret specifically investigates the immunological and cancer therapy applications of peptide amphiphile micelles.
J. C. Barrett, B. D. Ulery, A. Trent, S. Liang, N. A. David, and M. Tirrell. Modular Peptide Amphiphile Micelles Improving an Antibody-Mediated Immune Response to Group A. ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering. 2016.
K. Black, B. Lin, E. Wonder, S. Desai, E. J. Chung, B. Ulery, R. Katari, and M. Tirrell. Biocompatibility and Characterization of a Peptide Amphiphile Hydrogel for Applications. Tissue Engineering A. 2015. Vol. 21, Pg. 1333-1342.
A. Trent, B. Ulery, M. Black, J. Barrett, S. Liang, Y. Kostenko, N. David, and M. Tirrell. Peptide Amphiphile Micelles Self-Adjuvant Group A Streptococcal Vaccination. AAPS Journal. 2015. Vol. 17, Pg. 380-388.