Dr. Thomas develops advanced drug delivery systems and drug screening systems for immunotherapy in the treatment of cancer, lymphedema, and other diseases. 

Dr. Thomas’ bioengineering research focuses on immunotherapy and the therapeutic potential it has in a vast array of diseases. She has developed novel biomaterials for lymphatic drug delivery that improve cancer immunotherapy, vaccination, and lymphedema therapy while simultaneously reducing side effects. She has also developed model systems for drug screening relevant to both tumor immunotherapy and cellular immunotherapies. These have contributed new robust and translationally relevant systems to improve immunotherapy outcomes and widen the patient population that benefits from these therapies.

Dr. Thomas’ innovations have the potential to significantly and positively impact numerous medical applications including:

  • Cancer, lymphedema, and infection treatment
  • Vaccine and immunotherapeutic agent development
  • Predictive modeling of immunotherapy efficacy/drug screening

“The technologies we are developing will provide safer, more effective treatments that can help more people.” — Dr. Thomas.

Research Goals

  • Create study tools: Develop systems useful for the study, testing, and development of therapies for cancer, lymphedema, infection, and other diseases. 
  • Enable therapy: Engineer biomaterials to enable targeted delivery to improve therapeutic effects.
  • Develop anti-metastasis therapeutics: Create immunotherapies that consider unique metastatic cell biology characteristics and develop delivery systems for immunotherapeutic agents targeted to metastatic cells.
  • Lymphedema therapies: Develop therapies for this untreatable disease using targeted drug delivery systems.


  • Lymphatic transport: Studying the fluid dynamics of the lymphatic vasculature and its role in immunotherapy applications to develop new therapeutic delivery systems.
  • Immunity models: Developing engineered tissues to create reproducible, ex vivo immune function responses to design immunotherapy agents and delivery systems.
  • Engineering immunomodulatory biomaterials: Studying immune responses using engineered biomaterials to guide development of therapies with greater potency and safety.
  • Study of metastatic cell mechanobiology: Studying how tumors manipulate the immune system to develop safer, more effective cancer immunotherapies.


  • Woodruff Professor, George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and Parker H. Petit Institute of Bioengineering and Bioscience at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University member
  • 2023 Fellow, American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering
  • 2022 Award for Young Investigator from Elsevier's Biomaterials for "outstanding contributions to the field" of biomaterials science
  • 2018 Young Investigator Award from the Society for Biomaterials for "outstanding achievements in the field of biomaterials research." 
  • 2013 Rita Schaffer Young Investigator Award from the Biomedical Engineering Society "in recognition of high level of originality and ingenuity in a scientific work in biomedical engineering."