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Swanson School of Engineering Professor Steve Little among newest class of AAAS Fellows

In his first accolade of the new year, Steven R. Little, Distinguished Professor and Department Chair of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, has been elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Recognized by AAAS “for remarkable service to charities that advance education in science in impoverished countries and leadership in science internationally, Little is one of four Pitt and UPMC faculty named today as AAAS Fellows, one of the most distinct honors within the scientific community, dating to 1874.

“Steve’s outstanding career trajectory has been highlighted by the prestigious honors he’s received from his peers and societies like AAAS,” noted Robert S. Langer Jr., the David H. Koch Institute Professor and Little’s PhD advisor at MIT. “He is a Renaissance innovator who in his young career has helped to transform drug delivery research and is still poised for greater things.”

At Pitt, Little also holds the title of William Kepler Whiteford Endowed Professor in the Swanson School of Engineering, as well as secondary appointments in Bioengineering, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Immunology, Ophthalmology, and the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Other Pitt faculty named Fellows in this class are Kay Brummond, Associate Dean of Faculty and a professor of Chemistry in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences; Sarah Gaffen, the Gerald P. Rodnan Endowed Professor in the Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology at the School of Medicine; and Jerry Vockley, Chief of Medical Genetics and Director of the Center for Rare Disease Therapy at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine, and professor of human genetics at the Pitt Graduate School of Public Health.

The four are among 564 Fellows across a cadre of scientists, engineers and innovators recognized for achievements across disciplines ranging across research, teaching, administration, industry, government, and communications.

“I am incredibly humbled by this honor, and grateful for the years of mentorship from Bob Langer as well as the resources I’ve received at the University of Pittsburgh to further my research,” Little said. “Congratulations to my Pitt colleagues as well as the other Fellows named in this year’s cohort.”

Since receiving his PhD in 2005 – with his thesis winning the AAAS Excellence in Research Award – he has developed numerous new drug formulations including controlled drug release that mimics the body’s own mechanisms of healing and resolving inflammation. Unlike traditional medications that require large doses administered via ingestion, inoculation or intravenously, biomimetic treatments recruit a patient’s own cells to treat disease at the source. In particular, Little’s research shows potential new applications for glaucoma, gum disease, and even transplant organ rejection.

More about Steve Little
Little, internationally recognized for his research in pharmaceutics and biomimetic drug delivery systems, last fall added the University of Pittsburgh’s highest honor for faculty. Recognizing his contributions to the professoriate as well as research, scholarly impact, and leadership, Little was appointed Distinguished Professor by Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, and is the only University professor to receive the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching, Research, and Public Service awards.

This past December, Little was named to the 2021 Fellow class of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), the highest professional distinction accorded to academic inventors. His other honors include the Curtis W. McGraw Research Award from the ASEE, being elected as a fellow of the BMES and AIMBE, a Carnegie Science Award for Research, the Society for Biomaterials’ Young Investigator Award, the University of Pittsburgh’s Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award, being named a Camille Dreyfus Teacher Scholar, being named an Arnold and Mabel Beckman Young Investigator, and being elected to the Board of Directors of the Society for Biomaterials. The Controlled Release Society (CRS) awarded Little with two of its top honors, the Distinguished Service Award (2021) and Young Investigator Award (2018); and in 2020 elected him its College of Fellows for “outstanding and sustained contributions to the field of delivery science and technology over a minimum of ten years.”