Heather D. Maynard is the Dr. Myung Ki Hong Professor in Polymer Science at UCLA. Maynard is a worldwide leader in the area of protein-polymer conjugates, which are important therapeutics for a variety of diseases. She develops new synthetic methods to make the materials, invents new polymers to improve properties such as stability, and demonstrates preclinical efficacy of her conjugates with an eye towards translation for human health. Maynard’s research and teaching have been recognized by numerous awards including the American Chemical Society Arthur Cope Scholar Award, Bioconjugate Chemistry Lectureship Award, Fulbright Specialist Award, National Science Foundation Career Award, Hanson-Dow Award for Excellence in Teaching and the UCLA Student Development Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award. Maynard is both an American Chemical Society Polymer Chemistry and Polymer Materials: Science and Engineering Fellow. She is also an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Leverhulme, Kavli Frontiers, and Royal Society of Chemistry Fellow and was a member of the United States Defense Science Study Group from 2016-2017.
Heather Maynard’s research in polymer chemistry has three main thrusts. The first is in the area of protein-polymer conjugates and polymeric stabilizers. Protein stability and in vivo half-life are readily enhanced by the conjugation of polymers. Maynard exploits this by designing novel polymers inspired by Nature that aid in the delivery of proteins. These strategies are applied to proteins that are therapeutics for diabetes and cancer. Second, Maynard develops novel materials including hydrogels and nanoparticles that respond to a variety of chemical or physical triggers for drug delivery. Her polymers are stimuli-responsive and exhibit changes in one or more properties in response to biological cues in order to deliver therapeutic cargo when and where needed. The third focus area is on polymeric solutions towards protecting and sustainably releasing precious and agriculturally-relevant cargo such as proteins, pesticides, and water. As the global population rapidly increases, sustainable and efficient solutions for food security such as those developed in the Maynard group are urgently needed.