Cecelia Leal researches lipids, peptides, and nucleic acid assemblies to advance understanding of their function; as well as design new materials for the delivery of drugs and genes to cells. She is the Principal Investigator of the Leal Research Lab – and her team discovered a new type of non-viral siRNA delivery vehicle – that allows the localized release of drugs in precisely controlled, patient-specific time sequences. Leal has developed liposomal formulations to efficiently release cancer drugs as a response to acoustic stimulus. She also studies oxygen transfer in diseased lung tissue using sensors to measure oxygen permeation between biological surfaces.
Cecilia Leal received her MS in Industrial Chemistry from the University of Coimbra in Portugal and a PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Lund in Sweden. After working for a year at the Norwegian Cancer Hospital, Cecilia was a Vetenskapsrådet postdoctoral fellow in Materials Science at the University of California in Santa Barbara. She is an Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, an Associate Professor at the Materials Research Lab, and an Associate Professor of Biomedical and Translational Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is also a Racheff Faculty Fellow in Materials Science and Engineering and an Associate Professor at Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. Leal is the recipient of a 2018 UIUC Grainger College of Engineering Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research, the 2016 NSF CAREER Award, the 2016 NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, and the 2019 UIUC Campus Distinguished Promotion Award. She is also a mentor for the CCIL’s TiMe program.