Fellows & Projects

NIH T32 Supported Postdoctoral Fellows

Juan Beltran Huarac, Ph.D.

(919) 962-1011

juanbh@email.unc.edu

Beltran-Huarac joined UNC in 2018. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Puerto Rico in chemical physics and completed postdoctoral research in the areas of materials for nanotechnology and biomaterials at the University of Puerto Rico and in toxicology research at Harvard. He is currently working under the mentorship of Drs. Alexander Kabanov and Gianpietro Dotti on two projects “Remote Control of Therapeutic Protein Secretion via Magneto-Mechanic Actuation for Stem Cell Therapy” and “Cytoskeletal disruption-induced remote actuation for selective cancer treatment using magnetic field-activated iron oxides with different morphologies.”

Emily B Harrison, Ph.D.

ebh@email.unc.edu

Harrison joined UNC in 2016 after receiving her B.S. from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and her Ph.D. in neuroscience at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She studied the role of microRNAs in traumatic brain injury under the guidance of Howard Fox, Ph.D. Her current research focus, under the guidance of Chad Pecot, M.D., is uncovering novel miRNA regulators of cancer metastasis and exploring therapeutic strategies for microRNA delivery and inhibition.

Inbal Hazkani BenDror, M.D.

(919) 962-1011

hazkani@email.unc.edu

Hazkani BenDror joined UNC in 2018. She received her M.D. from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Medical School in 2006. She combines surgical experience in Otolaryngology with an interest in biomedical nanotechnology. She is currently working under the guidance of Drs. Andrew Wang and Alexander Kabanov on surgical implications for nanotechnology and head and neck cancer immunotherapy.

Edikan Ogunnaike, Ph.D.

(919) 962-1011

eogunna@email.unc.edu

Ogunnaike joined UNC in 2018. She received her B.S. and M.S. from Florida A& M University, and her Ph.D. at the University of South Florida from the Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering. She is currently working under the guidance of Drs. Gianpietro Dotti and Frances Ligler in the area of nanotechnology and cell engineering to develop a smart biomaterial which can be used in the delivery of engineered t-cells against solid tumors.

Shahin Sendi, M.D., Ph.D.

hsendi@email.unc.edu

Sendi joined UNC in 2017. He received an MD from Tehran University, Iran, an Mphil in Infection Biology from Karolinska Institute, Sweden and a PhD in Molecular Cell Biology from UNC Charlotte in 2013 where he worked on molecular pathogenesis of HCV. He has been working on the molecular pathogenesis of liver diseases. He is currently working under the guidance of Drs. Andrew Wang and Alexander Kabanov to explore nano-particle based treatment of liver metastasis.

Mostafa Yazdimamaghani, Ph.D.

(919) 962-1011

mmaa@email.unc.edu

Yazdimamaghani joined UNC in 2018. He received his B.S. from Isfahan University of Technology and his M.S. from the University of Tehran. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Utah in the area of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry. He is working under the guidance of Drs. Jon Serody and Chuck Perou. His current work is harnessing the power and specificity of the immune system by cancer immunotherapy to treat lung cancer utilizing neoantigens and nanotechnology.

NIH T32 Associated Fellows

Lida Ghazanfari, Ph.D.

lidagh@email.unc.edu

Ghazanfari earned her PhD from Amirkabir University of Technology in 2014. She also holds MSc and BSc degrees in biomedical engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology. Ghazanfari joined the laboratory of Alexander Kabanov in 2016. Ghazanfari’s research interests span a wide range of topics in theranostic platforms with a direct impact on cancer nanotechnology, including intelligent control of nano-bio interfaces to develop new nano-based therapies for prevention/treatment of cancer, innovation in multifunctional nanocomposite integration of nano-sized drug formulations, efficient stimuli and remotely actuated drug delivery systems.

Yu Mi, Ph.D.

yumi1@email.unc.edu

Mi earned his PhD from the National University of Singapore, in the department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in 2013. He also holds a BS from Tsinghua University. He joined the laboratory of Andrew Wang in 2015. Mi’s current research examines the use of nanoparticles to improve cancer immunotherapy.

NIH T32 Postdoctoral Alumni

Zach Rodgers, Ph.D.

Zach Rodgers, Ph.D. is originally from Ohio where he earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Youngstown State University studying C-H insertion chemistry on furanose platforms with Dr. Peter Norris. Rodgers later graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Ph.D. in organic chemistry under the guidance of David Lawrence, Ph.D. During this time, Rodgers worked on near-infrared light-mediated drug release for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.

During his training, Dr. Rodgers primary work focused on NPs coated with cancer cell and Mycobacteria membranes as vaccination scaffolds. He also developed, characterized, and screened the efficacy of cancer and BCG membrane coated NPs as melanoma vaccine platforms. In vivo pilot studies on the formulations show promise, and he has trained and will correspond with another postdoctoral researcher who will continue this promising research. They, we hope to fully optimize this NP vaccine system and publish within the next year.

Dr. Rodgers is now an Assistant Professor at Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA. He will run a research laboratory with a focus on developing photochemical methodologies and catalysts for use in biomaterial lithography and complex block co-polymer synthesis. The latter project will be dedicated to developing α-functionalized co-polymers for self-assembling nanoparticle systems with applications in drug delivery. The nanotechnology experience gained during the C-CNTP will aid him in accomplishing this research. He will also be developing a Polymer and Nanotechnology course for advanced chemistry students at the college.


Pamela Tiet, Ph.D.

Pamela Tiet, Ph.D. is originally from California where she earned her B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of California, Berkeley. She later graduated from City of Hope with a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences with an emphasis on nanotechnology under the guidance of Jacob Berlin, Ph.D. During this time, she worked on developing a biosensor to detect Staphylococcus aureus using oligonucleotide-functionalized gold nanoparticles and on the synthesis of silica-coated paclitaxel nanocrystals for the purpose of loading onto tumor-tropic neural stem cells for targeted drug delivery. Pamela was accepted into the NIH Carolina Center for Nanotechnology Training Program as a T32 postdoctoral fellow at UNC. While at UNC, she focused on cancer immunotherapy under the mentorship of Kristy Ainslie, Ph.D. and Jenny Ting, Ph.D. Dr. Tiet is now an Associate Scientist at United Therapeutics.

 

 


Elizabeth Wayne, Ph.D.

Elizabeth Wayne completed her Ph.D. at Cornell University in biomedical engineering in 2016 and earned her B.A. in physics from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009. Wayne has been named a 2017 TED Fellow.

Macrophages are a natural choice for gene delivery. Macrophages are a member of the innate immune system whose functions include phagocytosis of cellular debris and initiating the inflammatory response including the recruitment of other immune cells. Macrophages are found in large numbers in solid tumors and in other diseases where inflammation is prevalent, such as neurodegenerative disease and atherosclerosis.

Previously published work in the Kabanov group has demonstrated macrophages’ ability to horizontally transfer genes to ischemic muscle cells and that this activity is enhanced within the presence of pluronic block copolymers. Preliminary research shows that macrophages are also capable transferring genetic material to cancer cells. Wayne’s central goal is to develop a macrophage-mediated nonviral delivery system to deliver genetic material to the tumor environment.

Wayne has been named a 2017 TED Fellow. She is an advocate for women in academia. She co-hosts the PhDivas podcast and is featured in the Super Cool Scientists: Women in Science Coloring Book.