Elizabeth Wayne, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Trainee

Elizabeth Wayne, Ph.D., is an NIH Carolina Center for Nanotechnology Training Program T32 postdoctoral fellow in the Carolina Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Prior to UNC, she 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.

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.