Vince Venditto grew up in Philadelphia, PA and graduated from Gettysburg College in 2003 with a BS in Chemistry. During his time at Gettysburg, he worked with Prof. Don Jameson to synthesize Troger’s base derivatives as scaffolds for self-assembled architectures. He also performed summer research at the NIH National Cancer Institute with Dr. Martin Brechbiel. After graduating from Gettysburg, he started a 2-year post-baccalaureate fellowship in Dr. Brechbiel’s lab, where he synthesized a library of copper chelates to be used for cancer therapy and worked to chemically modify dendrimer constructs with therapeutics for cancer drug delivery. This work propelled him to pursue a PhD at Texas A&M University with Prof. Eric Simanek where he performed the kilogram-scale synthesis of a triazine-based dendrimer and developed a synthetic strategy to incorporate a variety of therapeutic prodrugs. After graduating from Texas A&M in 2009, he was awarded a NIH postdoctoral fellowship to work at the University of California, San Francisco with Prof. Frank Szoka where he focused on the development of a liposomal HIV vaccine. Since 2015, he has been Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Kentucky, College of Pharmacy. Although 16 years since his undergraduate degree, his liberal arts education at Gettysburg College provided the foundation to not just solve interesting problems, but to know which questions to ask.

Chemical Biology: A Liberal Arts Approach

Chemistry serves as the basis for biological interactions, including those that activate or inhibit immune responses during disease progression. Harnessing our understanding of chemical interactions and working at the interface between chemistry, immunology vaccine design and drug delivery offers a unique opportunity to develop technologies to better understand and treat disease. With a focus on cardiovascular disease and driven by observations in patients, my laboratory explores different facets of liposome-based immune modulation in three main areas: lipid synthesis, drug delivery, and vaccine design. Each aspect of this research program focuses on fundamental chemistry to establish modular liposomal formulations with easily exchangeable components to accurately and precisely manipulate the immune system. Using chemo-selective synthetic strategies, we have generated a library of novel lipids with diverse compositional space to fine-tune liposomal properties, and to serve as lipid anchors to decorate liposomes with clinically relevant moieties. In drug delivery, we have exploited the lipophilicity of therapeutics and recognition of liposomes by the immune system to formulate and repurpose FDA approved therapeutics for the treatment of inflammatory conditions. Finally, incorporation of these advances into a single formulation composed of carrier lipids, clinically relevant moieties and therapeutic agents, provides a platform to exquisitely enhance or suppress immune responses to elucidate fundamental biological properties and alter the trajectory of disease.