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She was grading college-level chemistry homework when she was a little girl. Now she’s the dean of the School of Pharmacy.

Bouvé College of Health Sciences’ new School of Pharmacy Dean Tatiana Bronich. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

Tatiana Bronich started her career in chemistry as many young chemists do—with a baking soda and vinegar volcanic eruption. 

“My mom was a chemistry professor, and sometimes she let me come to the lab and do little experiments, like the famous volcano experiment,” says Bronich, the newly appointed dean of Northeastern’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Bronich, an elected fellow at the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, knew she was destined for a life in academia since childhood. 

“I started helping my mom grade chemistry homework when I was a little girl,” says Bronich, who previously worked at the University of Nebraska as a professor of pharmaceutical science and associate dean of Research and Graduate Studies.

Carmen Sceppa, dean of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences, says she was delighted to appoint Bronich as dean of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science. “She is an outstanding scientist and world-recognized leader in the areas of drug delivery, nanotechnology, polymer science and pharmaceutics,” Sceppa says. “She’s also an outstanding and effective mentor, and all of her trainees have become successful scientists working in academia and industry.”

Bronich, who began her career in chemistry, has gradually transitioned to medicine where she applies her knowledge of polymer science to pharmaceuticals. 

“I’m a polymer scientist,” says Bronich. “I study how molecules interact with each other and assemble themselves so that we can better understand how new materials, either medicines or other ingredients, will interact with a living organism.” 

Specifically, Bronich works in a field of medicine called nanomedicine, in other words, medicine that performs at an extremely small level. 

“With nanomedicine, you can fit thousands of particles around a single human hair, for example,” Bronich says. “The fact that we can work with such small particles means a lot for medicine in terms of delivery and the ability of medicine to cross barriers and interact with people’s proteins, cells, tissues, or DNA.”  

In her new position as dean, Bronich intends to use her background in nanomedicine to tap into Northeastern’s multidisciplinary approach to pharmaceutical science. 

“Nanomedicine is a field that requires participation from scientists of all different backgrounds,” Bronich says. “We need to work alongside the data scientists, the biochemists, and the engineers, and we have the capacity to do that here.” 

Sceppa shares Bronich’s vision for a multidisciplinary future and hopes that under Bronich’s leadership, the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences can “create a center of excellence in multi-faceted and cutting-edge research on drug delivery and nanomedicine that bridges pharmaceutical sciences, bioengineering, nanotechnology, biology, and medicine.”

Bronich’s overall goal for the School of Pharmacy is to prepare students as best she can for the rapidly shifting field of pharmaceuticals by tailoring class curricula to the specific needs of students in medicine today. 

“One opportunity we have is to help students find their purpose, their ‘why.’ As the dean, my ‘why’ is to give students a chance to discover and pursue their passions,” Bronich says. “I’ve only been here a little more than a week, but I’m already so impressed by the vibrancy, creativity, and excitement that exists at the school.” 

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