Roadmap: Latest Campus & Coronavirus Info | Scheduled System Maintenance Dec 2-10
Saturday, December 5, 2020

Q&A: Lyle Hood, UTSA Department of Mechanical Engineering

Q&A: Lyle Hood, UTSA Department of Mechanical Engineering

UTSA professor Lyle Hood specializes in designing innovative medical devices.

(March 6, 2018) -- Lyle Hood is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). He specializes in designing innovative medical devices.

Among his designs are a laser needle for treating cancer that can do the work of both a cutting-edge surgical needle and a medical laser, giving it the ability to eradicate cancerous tumors while also delivering chemotherapy drugs.

He’s also the co-creator of a tiny implantable drug delivery system that’s ideal for treating diseases that need frequent medicinal doses over several days or weeks, such as cancer, HIV or AIDS.

Can you talk about the project you’re currently most excited to be working on?

That’s difficult. I am very lucky to have a lot of exciting research going on right now. For instance, microneedles for transdermal drug delivery and cancer treatment, digital extenders for doubling the reach of human fingers while still retaining their sense of touch, redesigning how the basic IV drip works… there’s a lot. Probably my most impactful is a novel drug delivery system we’re developing for delivering immunotherapy inside tumors to get the human body’s immune system to attack cancer.

What is the most important thing going on in your field that no one is talking about?

I’m not sure how many people are talking about this, but it hasn’t become popular knowledge. Immunotherapy is a huge advancement that will impact the health care of many of our students as they get older. Usually, we treat cancer by cutting it out, poisoning (chemotherapy), or burning it. Enlistinging the human body’s own immune system to recognize and eradicate it is very different, because if it’s successful, your adaptive immunity (why you typically don’t get the chicken pox twice) will forever be on guard for that particular form of cancer. It’s a true cure, and that’s extraordinarily important.

How has your personal journey influenced your work?

That’s complicated and there are a diverse set of contributions. One of the most defining is my dad, who is a very important role model for me. He is a periodontist whose entire practice was revolutionized by the adoption of a new technology while I was in high school. He bought a laser system them allowed him to provide patients with better results from fewer visits. This decreased their individual cost while increasing his take home as he was able to help far more people. To me, that’s the best possible outcome for medical technology, and one of the reasons I chose medical research after deciding I didn’t want to stay a pre-med student (too much memorization!).

What advice do you usually give to your students?

My students would have a hard time identifying individual pieces of counsel, as I tend to give way too much unsolicited advice. Common ones are along the lines of:

  • The business world is for extroverts and morning people, so your professional persona should be both.
  • The smartest is typically outdone by the hardest working, and successful engineers should work both smarter and harder.

What do you think makes UTSA unique?

I think UTSA is more student-focused than a lot of universities. In addition to the proper prioritization and focus on diversity, the student accommodations on those with low incomes, special needs and degree-specific services (e.g. printing for the arts majors) are truly unique and make UTSA great. I think that our non-traditional student population and military ties are also very influential and give UTSA its singular flavor.

If you weren’t an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, what career do you think you would have?

Before making the professor transition at UTSA, I was very close to taking jobs reviewing new medical devices at the FDA or working on powered exoskeletons at Northrop Grumman. I could definitely return to a career in those industries. However, the community focus on serving people here at UTSA is quite contagious, so if I wasn’t able to continue as a professor, I believe I’d seek a similar role supporting my community within a non-profit organization or as a different type of educator.

Joanna Carver

Go inside Lyle Hood’s laboratory.

Learn more about the UTSA Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn.

UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.




UTSA launches new cybersecurity institute to aid U.S. manufacturers

UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.