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CNDD Director Sasha Kabanov, Ph.D., Dr.Sci., introduces presenter Rogério Gaspar, Ph.D., who presented remotely from the University of Lisbon.
CNDD Director Sasha Kabanov, Ph.D., Dr.Sci., (right) introduces Rogério Gaspar, Ph.D., who presented remotely from the University of Lisbon.

From March 12 to 16, scientists from industry and academia came together at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy to learn about the latest advances in nanomedicine and to get hands-on experience with advanced nanoformulations at the third annual Carolina Nanoformulation Workshop.

The workshop is a unique blend of classroom and hands-on training that stresses interaction and participation. The 2018 edition featured three days of seminars presented by 21 speakers followed by two days of practical experience in the laboratories of the School’s Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery. Twenty-seven participants have attended the workshop, with each experiencing a unique one-on-one learning experience. The goal of the CNW is to provide safe and effective solutions for drug-delivery issues faced by industrial scientists, according to organizer Alexander Kabanov, Ph.D., Dr.Sci., director of the center and the Mescal S. Ferguson Distinguished Professor.

“There is no training like this in nanomedicine,” Kabanov said. “We go into great depth and only offer the workshop to a select group of participants. We are teaching industrial and academic trainees how to translate the most recent discoveries in nanomedicine to new therapeutics and better patient care using innovative education technology tools first developed and adopted by the School for its Doctor of Pharmacy program.”

Twenty-one speakers from organizations such as UNC-Chapel Hill, the NCI’s Nanotechnology Characterization Lab, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Phosphorex, Merrimack Pharmaceuticals and Postnova Analytics addressed and analyzed key issues relevant to industry scientists and presented nanotechnology-based strategies that have been successful in clinical trials. CNW participants received training on a comprehensive body of physicochemical characterization techniques to develop pharmaceutical-grade nanoparticle therapies, on thorough analytical characterization of in vivo nanoparticle disposition (biodistribution/pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, PK/PD) and on factors affecting nano delivery to tumors in animal models vs. humans.

The workshop included six lecture blocks with multiple lectures in each block capped off by a roundtable discussion. Interactive learning modules were made available online to the participants prior to the workshop to facilitate active learning and discussion during the onsite sessions. The online content is made available for six months after the conclusion of the conference.

Participants in the 2018 Carolina Formulation Workshop ask questions during a roundtable session.
Participants in the 2018 Carolina Formulation Workshop ask questions during a roundtable session.

Kabanov said that he was pleased with the mix of participants. Trainees came universities such as Duke, University of Michigan, University of Toronto and UNC-Chapel Hill and from pharmaceutical companies like Precision NanoSystems Inc. and Astellas Pharma. The Carolina Nanoformulation workshop is funded by the UNC Eshelman Institute for Innovation. The institute was created by a historic $100 million gift from Fred Eshelman, Pharm.D., and pursues high-risk, high-reward ideas that advance innovation in education, research and health care.

2018 CNW Speakers

Soumya Rahima Benhabbour, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the UNC and NCSU Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering. Her research combines the elegance of polymer chemistry with the versatility of engineering and formulation development to design and fabricate efficient and translatable delivery systems for cancer treatment and HIV prevention.

Tatiana Bronich, Ph.D., is a professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and a Co-Director of the Center for Drug Delivery and Nanomedicine. Her research interests are in the area of self-assembling polymer materials and applications of these materials in medicine.

Marina Dobrovolskaia, Ph.D., M.B.A., is a senior principal scientist and Head of the Immunology Section at the Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory where she currently directs characterization related to nanomaterials’ interactions with components of the immune system. Her team develops, validates and qualifies the performance of in vitro and in vivo assays to support the preclinical characterization of nanoparticles, and to monitor nanoparticle purity from biological contaminants.

Rogério Gaspar, Ph.D., is a vice chancellor at the University of Lisbon and a full professor in pharmaceutics at the Faculty of Pharmacy who has more than 20 years’ experience in the design and evaluation of nanoparticles and liposomes for drug and gene delivery. He is an international expert in regulatory science and affairs of nanomedicines.

Matthew Gallovic, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He researches the role of polymers and nanoparticles in vaccine and immunotherapy.

Shawn Hingtgen, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics and Pharmacoengineering at UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. His expertise includes development of novel stem cell-based therapies for treating terminal cancers, including brain cancer.

Leaf Huang, Ph.D., is a Fred Eshelman Distinguished Professor and chair of the Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics and Pharmacoengineering at UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. He is a pioneer in liposome research and nonviral gene therapy who has made enormous contributions with many of his inventions currently under preclinical testing.

Alexander V. Kabanov, Ph.D., Dr.Sci., is the Mescal S. Ferguson Distinguished Professor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, director of the CNDD and the co-director of the Carolina Institute for Nanomedicine. He has made very impactful contributions to the field of polymer-based drug and gene delivery.

Kazunori Kataoka, Ph.D., is one of the world’s leading polymer chemists and drug-delivery scientists who has made several high-impact contributions in developing nanomedicines for clinical applications. Several of his polyion complex-based nanomedicines are currently under clinical trials.

Alexander Koshkaryev, Ph.D., is a senior scientist at Merrimack Pharmaceuticals. His research interests include organelle-targeted nano-sized drug-delivery systems, cancer targeting and intracellular delivery of anticancer drugs, siRNA and therapeutical enzymes.

Naoki Makita, M.Sc., is a visiting scholar in the Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery at UNC Chapel Hill. He has 11 years of experience working in the pharmaceutical industry as a scientist, and his primary interest is developing novel delivery technologies for nucleic acids medicine.

Muthiah Manoharan, Ph.D., is the senior vice president of drug discovery at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. He is also an Alnylam distinguished scientist.

Lauren Price, Pharm.D., joined UNC in 2016 as a postdoctoral fellow studying the pharmacokinetics and biodistribution of nanoparticle agents under the mentorship of William Zamboni, Pharm.D., Ph.D.

Julia Rashba-Step, Ph.D., is the vice president of research and development and alliance management at Phosphorex, Inc., which is a privately held company focused on the development of drug-delivery products and technologies. Formerly she was the senior director of novel delivery technologies at Pfizer. Her expertise and interests are in multiple areas of advanced formulation and delivery such as sustained release, noninvasive delivery, high concentration formulation, targeted delivery and innovative devices.

Robert Reed, Ph.D., is a sales and application specialist at Postnova Analytics, Inc., an innovative company that specializes in developing advanced analytical products for customers based in biotechnology, polymer and particle science.

Anna Schwendeman, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of pharmaceutical science at the University Of Michigan College Of Pharmacy with 12 years of experience working in the pharmaceutical industry. Her long-term research goal is to design highly potent and safe synthetic high-density lipoprotein nanomedicines for treatment of atherosclerosis.

Alexander Tropsha, Ph.D., is an expert in the fields of computational chemistry, cheminformatics and structural bioinformatics who works to develop new methodologies and software tools for computer-assisted drug design.

Andy Wang, M.D., is an associate professor and director of clinical and translational research in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the UNC School of Medicine. His expertise includes preclinical development, evaluation and clinical translation of nanoparticle therapeutics to improve cancer management.

Hong Yuan, Ph.D., is a research associate professor of radiology in the UNC School of Medicine and director of the BRIC Small Animal Imaging Facility. Her research focuses on using imaging techniques to measure tumor hypoxia and its effect on radiotherapy.

William “Bill” Zamboni, Pharm.D., Ph.D., is the director of UNC GLP Bioanalytical Facility and the director of the Translational Oncology and Nanoparticle Drug Development Initiative Lab at UNC-CH. He is also the co-director of the North Carolina Biomedical Innovation Network for GLP toxicology and pharmacology studies of small molecule and nanoparticle agents.

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