Tejal Desai, PhD

Deborah Cowan Endowed Professor
Director, Health Innovation via Engineering (HIVE)
Phone: +1 415 514-4503
Fax: +1 415 514-9656
1700 4th Street, Rm 203C
UCSF Box 2520
San Francisco, CA 94158
United States


What I do

I am a bioengineer focusing on micro and nanofabrication techniques to create new devices for drug and cell delivery as well as biomaterials for cell and tissue regeneration. I am the immediate past chair (7 years) of the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, a joint department in the UCSF Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine. I also serve as the director of Health Innovation via Engineering (HIVE).

Departmental research area

My research expertise

biomedical microtechnology, biomedical nanotechnology, cell-material interactions, tissue repair and regeneration, biomimetic architectures, drug delivery, oral drug delivery, ocular drug delivery, biomaterials, Nanostructured materials

Professional background


Tejal Desai is the Deborah Cowan Endowed Professor, Department of Bioengineering & Therapeutic Sciences, Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF); and Professor in Residence, Department of Bioengineering, UC Berkeley (UCB). She serves as director of the NIH training grant for the Joint UCSF/UCB Graduate Program in Bioengineering, and founding director of the UCSF/UCB Masters Program in Translational Medicine. She is also the Inaugural Director of the UCSF Engineering and Applied Sciences Initiative known as HIVE (Health Innovation Via Engineering).

Desai is the immediate past chair (7 years) of the Department of Bioengineering & Therapeutic Sciences.

Desai’s research spans multiple disciplines including materials engineering, cell biology, tissue engineering, and pharmacological delivery systems to develop new therapeutic interventions for disease. She seeks to design new platforms, enabled by advancements in micro and nanotechnology, to overcome existing challenges in therapeutic delivery. She has published over 250 peer-reviewed articles and patents. Her research efforts have earned recognition including Technology Review’s "Top 100 Young Innovators,” Popular Science’s Brilliant 10, and the Dawson Biotechnology Award. She is President of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and is a fellow of AIMBE, IAMBE, CRS, and BMES. In 2015, she was elected to the National Academy of Medicine and in 2019 to the National Academy of Inventors.

Desai is a vocal advocate for STEM education and outreach to women and underrepresented minority students. She serves on the university’s Differences Matter Executive Committee and her work to break down institutional barriers to equity and cultivate a climate of inclusion was recognized by the AWIS Judith Poole Award and the UCSF Chancellors Award for the Advancement of Women. As president of AIMBE, she has led advocacy efforts for increased scientific funding and addressing workforce disparities in science/engineering. To foster the next generation of scientists, she has been involved in the SF Science Education partnership and has worked with outreach organizations such as the Lawrence Hall of Science, PBS, and the UN Women’s council to develop hand-on exhibits and videos related to nanotechnology and women in engineering.

She received her B.S. from Brown University in biomedical engineering in 1994 and was awarded a Ph.D. in bioengineering jointly from UCSF and UC Berkeley in 1998.

Research keywords

  • Nanostructured materials
  • Corneal
  • Bone
  • three dimensional scaffold and matrix fabrication
  • medical devices
  • bioengineering
  • Ocular
  • Retinal
  • implantable
  • drug delivery (Oral
  • surface modification and biocompatibility
  • BioMEMS and Biomedical Nanotechnology
  • cell encapsulation technologies (Pancreatic and Neurosecretory)
  • tissue engineering (Cardiovascular
  • nanotechnology
  • drug delivery systems
  • Polyesters
  • Drug Carriers
  • Nanostructures
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Tissue Engineering
  • Calcium Phosphates
  • silicon
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Surface Properties
  • Artificial Membranes
  • Microtechnology
  • Materials Testing
  • Nanoparticles