Organic Chemistry Student Profile

Sussana Elkassih
Sussana Elkassih

Sussana Elkassih grew up in Arlington, TX, and earned a double degree in Biochemistry and Chemistry from the University of Texas at Dallas. Her father spurred her love for science, teaching her how to think critically.

In her research, Sussana's goal is to "develop controlled polymerization strategies for functional polydisulfides as stimuli-responsive drug and gene carriers. Polydisulfides can be degraded specifically in response to endogenous, intracellular reducing agents, such as glutathione, to trigger drug release inside of cells. So, I could use polydisulfides to construct 'smart' polymeric delivery systems that would target and deliver their cargo specifically to cancer cells. Furthermore, because the polymeric backbone is made up of disulfide bonds, the entire nanoparticle would degrade down to the original monomer units, hence maximizing cargo release and minimizing toxicity."

"The Biological Chemistry – Chemistry Track Program is relatively small, but we compensate with the fact that our program collaborates a lot across all disciplines at both UTSW and other institutions. We have access to several core facilities and our faculty members are all experts within their field. Furthermore, we complete all of our required course work in the first year, we do not have to serve as teaching assistants, and we get the opportunity to complete 2-3 lab rotations. The most important aspect I would like to stress is not only will you have the chance to learn synthetic organic chemistry, but also, a lot of basic biological science as well, thus making you more well-rounded when you proceed to the next step in your academic/professional career."

Sussana also comments about UT Southwestern as a whole. "UTSW is a world renowned basic science research institute known for their breakthroughs in the biological sciences. Furthermore, UTSW has a strong belief in advancing patient care with the scientific discoveries that we constantly make. This belief is distilled into both faculty and students, which not only encourages us to keep working hard, but also makes the research we do worth funding."

Sussana Elkassih
Organic Chemistry Ph.D. Program
Mentor: Daniel Siegwart, Ph.D.