Biologics Seminar Series: The pulmonary surfactant system as a target and a vehicle for delivery of drugs and nanomaterials

The Biologics Seminar series is a programme of seminars organised by the Vaccine Design and Delivery group at the Department of Pharmacy. Each time, a different speaker is invited to present their work for one hour.


Professor J. Perez-Gil, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Dean of the Faculty of Biology, Complutense University of Madrid (UCM), Spain, will speak about The pulmonary surfactant system as a target and a vehicle for delivery of drugs and nanomaterials.​


Pulmonary surfactant is a lipid/protein complex whose main function is to form a surface-active film at the respiratory air-liquid interface, essential to maintain a large surface available for gas exchange along breathing dynamics. Apart of this crucial biophysical role, surfactant integrates elements in charge of innate mechanisms of defense that maintain that large respiratory surface free of pathogens.
Intense research during last few decades have revealed the molecular mechanisms of very specialized hydrophobic proteins in surfactant to promote transference of surface-active lipid species into the interface and to maintain highly cohesive multilayered interfacial structures stable during compression-expansion cycling in alveoli. These structures constitute the first physical barrier encountered by inhaled entities such as pathogens, nanoparticles, allergens, etc, and define their fate, and potential pathogenic consequences, in the airways.
On the other hand, the intrinsically dynamic properties of surfactant have been used to facilitate the distribution into the lung of poorly-soluble drugs once they are properly incorporated into surfactant.
The talk will summarize current knowledge on structure-function mechanisms of surfactant at air-liquid interfaces, and the consequences of the interaction of surfactant with drugs and nano-particulated materials.

Brief biography

Professor J. Perez-Gil received his B. Sc. Degree in Biology and his Ph. D. in Biochemistry at Complutense University in Madrid. He then carried out postdoctoral research in physical chemistry of lipid and lipid-protein systems at the laboratory of Prof. Kevin M. W. Keough, at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, in St. Johns, Canada, and at the Max-Plank-Institut für biophysikalische Chemie, in Göttingen, Germany, under the supervision of Prof. Derek Marsh. He then returned to Complutense University, where he has spent most of his professional career, now as Professor and Chair of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Dept., at the Biology Faculty of UCM. Presently, he is serving as the Dean of the Faculty of Biology, UCM and is an elected President of the European Biophysical Societies' Association (EBSA). Dr. Perez-Gil received in 2006 the Bruker Prize from the Spanish Society of Biophysics, for his contribution to the development and spreading of Biophysics in Spain, and is an active member of the Biophysical Society.
The main research interest of Dr. Perez-Gil is focused on the elucidation of the organization and molecular mechanisms of the lipid-protein complexes of pulmonary surfactant, and the way lipids and proteins mutually modulate their physical properties in different lipid-protein systems.

The seminar will last for 35 min + 10 min questions and is free of charge. Please contact Prof. Camilla Foged ( or +45 35 33 64 02) for further information.