June 9, 2015 | Patti Wieser
At the UC San Diego School of Medicine Senior Awards ceremony on June 6 are (from left): Pradeep Khosla, PhD, chancellor at UC San Diego; Jonathan Copp, MD, recipient of the CTRI Fourth-Year Medical Student Award; and David Brenner, MD, vice chancellor for Health Sciences and dean of the School of Medicine at UC San Diego. Photo by Jill Dumbauld, CTRI
Jonathan Copp, MD, whose research focus is on developing nanoparticles to treat diseases, has received the UC San Diego Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) Fourth-Year Medical Student Award. Copp was honored on June 6 during the School of Medicine Class of 2015 Senior Awards ceremony at the Medical Education and Telemedicine Building. He received a medical degree at UC San Diego on June 7.
"Dr. Copp's work epitomizes clinical and translational research, since it involves development of nanoparticles for drug delivery for treatment of leukemia, infections, and other conditions," said David N. Bailey, MD, Distinguished Research Professor of Pathology and Pharmacy at UC San Diego in a letter nominating Copp for the award. "His outstanding translational research has resulted in eight publications in first-rate peer-reviewed journals, including one first authored."
Copp was among 23 fourth-year medical students receiving awards during the ceremony. In addition to the CTRI award, he received the S.B.H. Memorial Thesis Award, in Memory of Samuel B. Hamburger. Copp is also the 2011 recipient of the CTRI Top Summer Research Poster Award.
In 2010, Copp entered medical school at UC San Diego after receiving bachelor's degrees in biology and chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "At UNC at Chapel Hill I was first exposed to nanoparticles research," Copp said. "After graduating in 2008, I joined the lab of Dr. Andy Wang and worked on targeted delivery of chemotherapy, via nanoparticles, in combination with radiation therapy."
Copp continued his work with nanoparticles at UC San Diego in the Department of Nano-Engineering and Moore's Cancer Center under Liangfang Zhang, PhD. His time at Zhang's lab included a year as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute medical fellow, during which he focused on developing a novel nanoparticle platform for the treatment of autoimmune disease.
"Over the duration of my five years, we worked on using biomimetic nanoparticles to treat diseases ranging from infection to cancer to autoimmune disease in an effort to minimize drug toxicity," Copp said. His recent research incorporated these particles into a biologically compatible hydrogel to treat an MRSA skin infection without the need for antibiotics. MRSA is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
"Jon is a highly motivated and dedicated medical researcher, who is capable of bringing together his academic and life experiences to perform exceedingly well in any endeavor he has chosen. I very much enjoyed working with Jon the past a few years," Zhang said.
Among Copp's publications, he was first author on the paper, Clearance of Pathological Antibodies Using Biomimetic Nanoparticles, published in September 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. He is also a co-author on the paper, Hydrogel Retaining Toxin-Absorbing Nanosponges for Local Treatment of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Infection, published in April 2015 in Advanced Materials. He has filed three patents, one of which has been licensed.
Copp will begin his residency this summer at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where he anticipates continuing his research in biomimetic nanoparticles. "I hope to expand upon this work during my residency and incorporate it into orthopedics infections to prevent and treat prosthetic infection," he said.
The CTRI award, designed to recognize students with outstanding potential for future contribution to translational research, is typically given to one fourth-year medical student per year.