Nicole F. Steinmetz, Ph.D. 

Professor and Vice Chair, Department of NanoEngineering & Director of the Center for Nano-ImmunoEngineering & Co-Director of the Center for Engineering in Cancer

Dr. Steinmetz is a Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of NanoEngineering at the University of California, San Diego (07/2018-present) and is the Founding Director of the Center for Nano-ImmunoEngineering (nanoIE) and Co-Director of the Center for Engineering in Cancer (CEC). She has Adjunct or Affiliate Appointments as Professor of Radiology, Professor of Bioengineering, Faculty of the Biomedical Science Graduate Program; she is a Member of the NCI-designated Moores Cancer Center, the Institute for Engineering, the San Diego Center for Precision Immunotherapy,  the Center for Drug Discovery and Innovation, and the Institute for Materials Design and Discovery.

Dr. Steinmetz started her independent career at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, where she was promoted through the ranks of Assistant Professor (10/2010-06/2016), Associate Professor (07/2016-12/2017), Full Professor (01/2018-06/2018). In 2017 she was named the George J. Picha Designated Professor in Biomaterials and Director for the Center for Bio-Nanotechnology. 

Dr. Steinmetz trained at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA where she was a NIH K99/R00 awardee and AHA post-doctoral fellow (2007-2010); she obtained her PhD in Bionanotechnology from the University of East Anglia where she prepared her dissertation as a Marie Curie Early Stage Training Fellow at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK (2004-2007). Her early training was at the RWTH-Aachen University in Germany, where she obtained her Diploma (Masters) in Molecular Biotechnology (2001-2004) after completing her pre-Diploma from the Ruhr University Bochum, Germany (1998-2001).

At UC San Diego; Dr. Steinmetz serves as the Founding Director of the Center for Nano-ImmunoEngineering and Co-Director of the Center for Engineering in Cancer. Dr. Steinmetz also is a Co-PI of UC San Diego's NSF-funded Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC); and in the MRSEC she serves as the Co-Lead for IRG2 focused on Living Materials. Dr. Steinmetz serves on review panels for NIH, NSF, and CDMRP and she was a standing member of the NIH Nanotechnology study section.  She served on the Editorial Board of Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews (WIREs) on Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology; she and currently serves on the Advisory Editorial Board for ACS Nano, Molecular Pharmaceutics, Journal of Materials Chemistry B, Materials Advances and Advanced Therapeutics. Dr. Steinmetz has chaired symposia at American Chemical Society, Materials Research Society, and Foundations of Nanosciences; and she served as Chair of the Gordon Conference of Physical Virology (2015). 

Dr. Steinmetz has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles, reviews, book chapters, and patents; she has authored and edited books on Virus-based nanotechnology. Research in the Steinmetz Lab is and has been funded through grants from federal agencies, including National Institute of Health, National Science Foundation (including an NSF CAREER), US Department of Agriculture (NIFA), and Department of Defense (CDMRP), as well as private foundations, including Susan G. Komen Foundation, American Cancer Society, and American Heart Association. Over the past 10 years, Dr. Steinmetz has been awarded grants as PI and Co-PI totaling $48+ million in total costs.

Dr. Steinmetz’s teaching philosophy was shaped during her time as a high-level athlete competing for the German National Team in Artistic Roller Figure Skating; her goal is to teach students to be fearless when approaching experimental challenges, learning difficult techniques, or presenting their results in front of their peers, and to always stand up and try again until they succeed.


  • Professor Steinmetz named as one Top Women in Academic Entrepreneurship  |
  • 2022 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI)
  • 2022 Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES)
  • 2022 Beaker List - a UCSD Edition; recognized as Top Entrepreneurial Life Science Professors @ UCSD |
  • 2021 Fellow of the International Association of Advanced Materials (FIAAM)                              
  • 2019 recognized by National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) during Women's History Month |
  • 2018 RSC Fellow | Royal Society of Chemistry 
  • 2017 George J. Picha Designated Professorship in Biomaterials
  • 2017 AIMBE Fellow | American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering
  • 2016  Ohio  Cancer Research Singular Sensations Honoree
  • 2016 Daniela Pucci Prize at NanoPlasm 2016
  • 2016 American Cancer Society (ACS) Research Scholar Award
  • 2015 CWRU's Bruce Jackson, MD, Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring 
  • 2015 National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award
  • 2015 YoungInnovator of Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering, Biomedical Engineering Society
  • 2015 Chair of Gordon Research Conference of Physical Virology
  • 2014 Susan G. Komen Career Catalyst Grant
  • 2014 Crain's Cleveland Business Forty under 40 Awardee
  • 2011 Mt.Sinai Scholar, Case Western Reserve University
  • 2009 K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award (NIH/NIBIB)
  • 2008 American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2007 British Science Federation Communication Award, Category New Researcher
  • 2006 Finalist for the European Young Chemists Award, Budapest, Hungary
  • 2006 Awarded Participation at Meeting of Nobel Prize Winners in Lindau, Germany
  • 2006 Bryan Harrison Award, International Conference on Advances in Plant Virology, Warwick, UK
  • 2004 Marie Curie Early Stage Training Fellowship 
  • 2004 Awarded Springorum Denkmuenze, RWTH Aachen University, Germany

Past Affiliations

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