• Chair, Biomedical Engineering
  • Adjunct Professor, Chemistry
  • Distinguished Professor, Pharmaceutical Chemistry
  • Professor, Pharmaceutical Chemistry
  • Professor, Biomedical Engineering
  • Distinguished Professor, Biomedical Engineering
  • Adjunct Professor of Orthopedics, Orthopaedic Surgery Operations

Research Summary

Grainger's expertise lies in innovating materials in medicine, including applications to improving medical devices, medical diagnostic assays, drug delivery, surface coatings, surgical infection, and host-implant rejection. He uses many types of molecular and cellular methods, surface analytical tools, polymer materials chemistry, cell, molecular and microbiology. He has extensive experience with industrial product R&D in the medical device and diagnostic industries.


  • B.A., Engineering modified with Chemistry, Dartmouth College
  • Ph.D., Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Utah. Project: Heparinized Polymers as blood-compatible coatings


David W. Grainger is a University Distinguished Professor and George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Presidential Endowed Chair in Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Chair of the Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Utah.  Grainger received his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Utah in 1987 studying blood-compatible polymers.  He then received an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship to perform postdoctoral research under Prof. Helmut Ringsdorf, University of Mainz, Germany.  This training initiated over 25 years of experience with various aspects of developing “materials in medicine”.  Grainger’s research expertise is focused on improving implanted medical device performance, drug delivery of new therapeutic proteins, nucleic acids and live vaccines, nanomaterials interactions with human tissues, low-infection biomaterials, and innovating diagnostic devices based on DNA and protein biomarker capture.  Additionally, he is an expert in applications of surface analytical methods to biomedical interfaces, including analytical methods development for difficult organic surface patterns and nanomaterials, and also internationally recognized as an expert of perfluorinated thin films and biomaterials.

Grainger has published ~189 full research papers and 24 book chapters at the interface of materials innovation in medicine and biotechnology, and novel surface chemistry.  He has won research several awards, including the 2013 Excellence in Surface Science Award from the Surfaces in Biomaterials Foundation, the prestigious 2007 Clemson Award for Basic Research, Society for Biomaterials, and the 2005 American Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturer’s Association’s award for “Excellence in Pharmaceutics”.  He won a 2016 Fulbright Senior Scholar Award to New Zealand, a short-term visiting professorship in Tokyo from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, and a CNRS Visiting Professorship in Paris, France.  He has also received several teaching awards for outstanding mentoring and teaching service, including the University of Utah 2010 Distinguished Postdoctoral and Graduate Student Mentoring Award, the US West/Qwest Faculty Education Excellence Award (Colorado State University, 2000), Colorado State University College of Natural Sciences "Undergraduate Teacher of the Year", 2000, Colorado State University Alumni Association "Teacher of the Year", 2002, and several “Favorite Faculty” Awards from CSU Undergraduate Student Associations. In 2014, Grainger delivered the 58th Annual Edward T. Smith lecture at the University of Texas-Houston Department of Orthopedic Surgery, and also the “Dr. K.T. Dholakia” oration, “Challenges in translating antimicrobial technologies to orthopedic implants”, as part of the Bombay Orthopedic Society’s annual meeting in Mumbai, India,, He provided the EU Madame Curie guest lectures at the Technical University-Aachen, Germany in 2009 and the 15th Annual Fritz Straumann lecture, AO Foundation, Davos, Switzerland, December, 2008.

Grainger is an elected Fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), and Inducted Honorary Fellow, International Union of the Societies of Biomaterials Science and Engineering, 2008.  He has organized 25 international scientific symposia including the prestigious Gordon Research Conference in Biomaterials, presented over 325 invited talks all over the world.  Grainger also regularly lectures in international graduate summer schools and EU courses. He serves on editorial boards for 6 major research journals in the biomedical materials field, reviewing over 50 manuscripts annually.  He is past-Chair and former member of Emerging Bioanalytical Technologies scientific review group (SRG) at NIH, past standing member on the NIH’s Surgery and Bioengineering SRG, and over 20 other NIH and NSF review panels, some as chair. Additionally, he serves on the Scientific Advisory Boards of the Univ. Wisconsin-Madison NSF MRSEC on High Performance Nanostructured Materials, the AO Foundation, Davos, Switzerland, the EMPA, Switzerland, and the Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapy at the Charité Research Center, Berlin, Germany, and past roles on SABs for Swiss Center for Materials Competence, Zurich, Waseda University ASMeW Research Center, Tokyo Japan, the NIH P41 National Surface Analysis Center, University of Washington (NESAC/Bio), and the NSF Harvard/New Mexico NSF PREM MRSEC.  Grainger has helped co-found 3 biomedical technology companies, sits on the Scientific Advisory boards for 4 biomedical companies, and actively consults internationally with industries in applications of materials in biotechnologies and medicine. 

He enjoys playing piano, fly fishing Rocky Mountain streams and ski mountaineering in his free time.