David Needham

Thomas Lord Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Professor Emeritus in the Thomas Lord Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

David Needham Profile Photo
David Needham Profile Photo


Professor Needham has been at Duke since 1987 and over the years has developed many collaborative and scholarly relationships across the campus and Medical School. He holds Faculty and membership appointments as: Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering; Center for Bioinspired Materials and Material Systems; Center for Biomolecular and Tissue Engineering; Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center; and the Duke Cancer Institute.  Internationally, he holds a joint appointment as Professor of Translational Therapeutics in the School of Pharmacy, at the University of Nottingham, UK.  He also collaborates with preclinical researchers at the Erasmus University Medical Center, in Rotterdam, NL. 
For the past 35 years Needham's Lab has developed and used a platform technology of micropipette manipulation to manipulate single and pairs of micro bubbles, droplets and particles in order to assess their behavior in well-defined fluids and solution conditions.  Recently his research and development has focused on nucleation, growth and stability of nanoparticles.  Applications of these fundamental particle and interfacial studies have primarily focused on advanced drug delivery treatments for cancer and now COVID19 with a nasal and throat spray prophylactic and early treatment regimen.


  • B.S. Nottingham Trent University (United Kingdom), 1975
  • Ph.D. University of Nottingham (United Kingdom), 1981


  • Professor Emeritus in the Thomas Lord Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
  • Member of the Duke Cancer Institute

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Doctor of Science. University of Nottingham. 2015
  • Honorary Professor. School of Pharmacy, Nottingham University, Nottingham, UK. 2014
  • Hans Christian Andersen Academy Professor. University Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. 2012
  • Niels Bohr Professorship,. Danish National Research Foundation, Denmark. 2012
  • VELUX Visiting Professor Program. VELUX Foundation. 2011
  • Visiting Professor, MEMPHYS/MultiCaps. University of Southern Denmark, Denmark. 2011
  • Participant: Series of Workshops and Tutorials on u201cCells and Materials at the Interface between Mathematics, Biology and Engineeringu201d. Institute for Pure and Applied Math, UCLA. 2006
  • National Academy of Sciences Committee on Biomolecular Materials and Processes. Board on Physics and Astronomy National Research Council, the National Academies . 2006
  • Participant, u201cBlue Sky Committeeu201d . Duke University. 2006
  • Alfred M. Hunt Faculty Scholarship. Duke University. 1988
  • Recipient F.I.R.S.T. Award. National Institutes of Health. 1988
  • NATO/SERC (England) Fellowship. NATO/SERC . 1983
  • Oppenheimer Research Fellowship. Cambridge University. 1982

Courses Taught

  • ME 490: Special Topics in Mechanical Engineering
  • ME 555: Advanced Topics in Mechanical Engineering