Faculty Scholars

Faculty Scholar Marek Urban, Ph.D. at  Clemson University, Clemson South Carolina

Marek W. Urban, Ph.D.

J.E. Sirrine Foundation Endowed Chair

Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Clemson University

Contact: 864-656-1155 or mareku@clemson.edu  

Who is Professor Urban?

Marek Urban is a leading-edge scientist in the field of stimuli-responsive, self-repairing polymeric materials, and biological polymers. Inspired by nature, his research group designs and develops novel materials that enable technological advances in energy, healthcare, agriculture, and transportation. The grand challenge is to impart molecular properties of synthetic materials to achieve the adaptability, responsiveness, and reproducibility of living systems. He holds the Sirrine Foundation Endowed Chair and Professorship positions in the Materials Science and Engineering department. Prior to joining Clemson University, he was a faculty member at North Dakota State University and the University of Southern Mississippi, where he directed the Materials Research Science and Engineering (MRSEC) as well as Industry/University Cooperative Research (I/U CRC) Centers funded by the National Science Foundation. Marek is an invited speaker to numerous international conferences, is the author of over 300 publications, has written four books, and is the author of several patents. He has edited seven books of the American Chemical Society Advances in Chemistry Series as well as the Wiley Handbook on Stimuli-Responsive Materials. He chaired the Gordon Research Conferences and is the recipient of numerous awards. His research has been featured by numerous media, including the NY Times, Forbes Magazine, BBC, NBC, Discovery, USA Today, Yahoo, and many others. In the last decade, he has secured over $16 million in research funding from National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, National Institutes of Health, and US Army Eng. Center, and numerous companies.

How Professor Urban's research is transforming health care

According to the World Health Organization, in 2012 there were about 450,000 new cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis reported in 92 countries. Staph infections caused by staphylococcus bacteria can turn deadly if the bacteria invade deeper into the body, thereby entering the bloodstream, joints, bones, lungs or heart. Unfortunately, an alarming number of otherwise healthy people develop life-threatening staph infections that often lead to death. While hospitals are being penalized for improper sterilization procedures and the overuse of antibiotics, the real question is whether enough research is being conducted to eliminate these problems at its inception, before large doses of drugs are administered in an attempt to save human lives. Marek’s plans are to develop materials that will coat surgical tools, catheters or implants, any devices, and kill bacteria on contact. Unfortunately, the general perception is that infections are not associated with specific diseases and very often occur under most unpredictable conditions. He proposes to develop robust surfaces and interfaces that will be activated upon sensing an infection. Since these approaches require multi-investigator teams, through this collaboration, he will be able to integrate various talents across the state and form inter-institutional partnerships and tackle these critical issues.

Health Research Expertise Keywords

Antimicrobial Surfaces, Self-healing Materials, Stimuli-responsive Materials, Applications of Thereof