Tannin Schmidt, PhD

Associate Professor, University of Connecticut

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Research interests

My basic and translational research interests in biomedical engineering lie within biomechanics (biotribology), biomaterials, biointerface science and biochemistry/biophysics, all within the context of engineering health.

The goal of my program is to understand the fundamental mechanisms and properties of proteoglycan 4 (PRG4), also known as lubricin (a critical lubricating protein found throughout the human body), at relevant biointerfaces and biomaterials, and to apply that knowledge to the development of PRG4-containing biotherapeutics and biomaterials.

I have been successful in translating basic findings as a scientific co-founder of Lubris BioPharma, a clinical stage start-up company developing recombinant human PRG4 (rhPRG4)-based treatments for osteoarthritis, dry eye, and other diseases. I contributed to the development and characterization of rhPRG4, and have significant experience with the protein. In a recently completed clinical trial, rhPRG4 was demonstrated to be safe and effective in treating dry eye disease (signs and symptoms). Based on these promising results, Novartis exercised an option to in-license rhPRG4 from Lubris, for all ophthalmic indications worldwide (outside Europe) license. Lubris continues to evaluate other applications, such as treating post-surgical adhesions and is engaged with other pharmaceutical companies for development of the osteoarthritis treatment.

The forward-looking vision of my program involves rhPRG4 as a platform technology, either alone or in combination with other molecules or biomaterials, for the treatment of OA (both surgical non-surgical approaches), dry eye, and other diseases/conditions (e.g. cancer, Sjogren’s syndrome, inflammatory arthritis, cataracts) where rhPRG4 may have clinical utility. Sophisticated basic research of PRG4 and its properties/function at relevant biointerfaces will continue, along with subsequent expansion to clinical evaluation of rhPRG4-containing biotherapeutics and/or biomaterials for the treatment of OA and dry eye and other diseases through collaboration with surgeons, clinicians and other basic scientists/engineers.