The Center is a multi-disciplinary, multi-departmental entity, involving faculty members who

  1. share the vision and mission of the Center,
  2. are appointed as the Center members, and
  3. contribute to the Center’s work.

CNDD has been instrumental in recruiting 12 new faculty members at UNC-CH in the nanotechnology and drug delivery research area, including the current director of the center, Alexander Kabanov, Ph.D., Dr.Sci. who relocated from the University of Nebraska Medical Center with a team of 20 scientists in August 2012.

Recruitment of Kabanov, a world leader in nanomedicine as the director, has been a major milestone for CNDD. During the last four years, CNDD has grown from six to 23 core faculty members, and now includes investigators from nine different departments at UNC, NCSU and Duke University.

There are six adjunct center members who contribute to center activities, such as graduate courses in the area of drug delivery and nanomedicine, facilitation of the Carolina Nanofomulation Workshop, and more.

The Center’s membership growth has been enhanced by

  1. recruitment of new faculty working in the area of drug delivery and nano medicine,
  2. development of new collaborations between faculty in the area of drug delivery and nano medicine,
  3. establishment of cross-center programs and activities, and
  4. development of resources including core facilities that facilitate nanomedicine research and educational activities of center members.

Kristy Ainslie, Ph.D.

(919) 962-4556

Kristy Ainslie, Ph.D., joined the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy in 2014 as an associate professor in the Division of Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics. Prior to that, she spent almost five years as an assistant professor at the Ohio State University’s Division of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry. The research of the ...

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Eric Michael Bachelder, Ph.D.

Eric Bachelder, PhD, focuses on the development of biomaterials for the treatment of diseases associated with the immune system, inlcuding using liposomes, acid sensitive polymers, and tissue engineering scaffolds.  

Edward Moreira Bahnson, Ph.D.

(919) 843-0842

Bahnson's Research Interests: Cardiovascular disease accounts for 2,300 deaths per day in the US, claiming as many lives as the next four leading causes combined. Current vascular interventions for severe arterial atherosclerosis have limited success due to restenosis secondary to neointimal hyperplasia and remodeling. Diabetes mellitus (DM) represents a particular challenge, ...

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Elena V Batrakova, Ph.D.

(919) 537-3712

The main focus of Batrakova’s research is to develop a CNS delivery system for antioxidants and neuronal growth factors to attenuate neuroinflammation and produce neuroprotection in patients with neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. For this purpose, her group utilizes inflammatory-response cells, macrophages and monocytes that can migrate toward the inflammation site, cross the blood brain barrier, and release the preloaded drugs in the brain.

Soumya Benhabbour, Ph.D.

(919) 843-6142

Soumya Benhabbour’s, Ph.D., research focuses on the development of novel delivery platforms and polymer-based devices that can treat or prevent a disease. Her work 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.

Paul Dayton, Ph.D.

(919) 843-9521

Prior to joining UNC in 2007, Dr. Dayton was research faculty at the University of California at Davis. Dr. Dayton's research interests currently involve applications of ultrasound imaging for assessment of tissue perfusion and monitoring of response to therapy. Other interests include ultrasound-mediated therapeutic approaches.

Joseph M. DeSimone, Ph.D.

(919) 962-2166

The recent breakthroughs in the DeSimone laboratories using specifically-designed materials for imprint or soft lithography have enabled an extremely versatile and flexible method for the direct fabrication and harvesting of monodisperse, shape-specific nano-biomaterials. The method, referred to as Particle Replication In Non-wetting Templates, or PRINT, allows for the fabrication of monodisperse particles with simultaneous control over structure (i.e. shape, size, composition) and function (i.e. cargo, surface structure).

Zongchao Han, M.D., Ph.D.

The Zongchao Han, Ph.D., M.D., laboratory is interested in developing gene therapies for retinal diseases. Han’s lab is particularly interested in understanding the gene expression patterns that are regulated by the cis-regulatory elements. Another interest of the Han laboratory is to produce a multifunctional NP carrier for specific and efficient gene/drug targeting.

Shawn D Hingtgen, Ph.D.

(919) 537-3827

Due to their expansive utility, stem cell-based therapies hold the potential to redefine therapeutic approaches and provide cures for many terminal diseases. In the Hingtgen lab, we seek to harness the potential of stem cells to develop new and better methods for treating terminal cancers, including brain cancer. We use ...

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Leaf Huang, Ph.D.

(919) 843-0736

Leaf Huang was previously at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (1976–1991) and at the University of Pittsburgh (1991–2005) as a faculty member. In July 2005, he was appointed as a Fred Eshelman Distinguished Professor at UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and chair of the Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics, a position ...

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Michael Jay, Ph.D.

(919) 843-3775

Mike Jay, Ph.D., received his B.S. in pharmacy from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1976 and his Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Kentucky in 1980. He was an assistant professor of nuclear medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center from 1980 to 1981 and then returned to the University of Kentucky as an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry in 1981 and rose through the academic ranks. By the end of his twenty-seven years at the University of Kentucky, he was professor of pharmaceutics and professor of radiology.

Alexander V. Kabanov, Ph.D., Dr.Sci.

Alexander “Sasha” Kabanov, Ph.D., Dr.Sci., is the Mescal Swaim Ferguson Distinguished Professor and director of the Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and codirector of the Carolina Institute for Nanomedicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to joining UNC-Chapel Hill in July 2012, Kabanov served for nearly eighteen years at the University of Nebraska Medical Center where he was the Parke-Davis Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and director of the Center for Drug Delivery and Nanomedicine, which he founded in 2004.

Melina R. Kibbe, M.D.

(919) 445-0369

Melina Kibbe’s research interests focus on developing novel therapies for patients with vascular disease while simultaneously studying the mechanism of how these therapies impact the vascular wall. She is currently PI on 3 NIH R01 awards and 1 VA Merit award, in addition to serving as co-Investigator on several other NIH ...

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Sam Lai, Ph.D.

(919) 966-3024

Sam Lai, Ph.D., was born in Hong Kong and spent his childhood in both Hong Kong and Vancouver. After completing high school at Phillips Academy, Andover, he attended Cornell University and received his BS in chemical and biomolecular engineering in 2003. He then undertook doctoral studies at Johns Hopkins University, receiving his PhD in chemical and biomolecular engineering in 2007. Following a one-year postdoc, he became a research assistant professor at Johns Hopkins in fall 2008 before joining the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy in fall 2010.

Rihe Liu, Ph.D.

(919) 843-3635

Rihe Liu received his bachelor’s degree in polymer physics from the University of Science and Technology of China in 1988. He did his graduate work from 1992 to 1996 with Professor Leslie E. Orgel at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and received his PhD in biochemistry from the University of California at San Diego.

James Chris Luft, Ph.D.

(919) 962-6303

Chris Luft, Ph.D. began working with Joseph DeSimone, M.D., in 2007 as the Lead Scientist responsible for the design and implementation of in vitro cell-based assays testing the efficacy and performance of novel PRINT® nanoparticles as drug delivery vehicles. The results generated from these projects allowed him and his team to describe the interdependent ...

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Matthew C Parrott, Ph.D.

(919) 966-3544

Currently, Parrott's research is focused on rapidly screening and identifying drug delivery platforms for cancer imaging using Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT). Specifically, polymers and nanoparticles are being evaluated as potential imaging agents. Parrott's group uses nanotechnology, nuclear chemistry, and molecular imaging to identify nanomaterials with ...

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Chad V. Pecot, M.D.

Chad Pecot, M.D. is a lung cancer specialist with a particular interest in how RNA interference (RNAi) can regulate cancer metastases. Because metastases are responsible for the death of nearly all cancer patients, the ability to control this process is vital. In collaboration with our Carolina Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence. Pecot ...

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Marina Sokolsky, Ph.D.

(919) 962-4698

Sokolsky-Papkov’s project focuses on remotely actuated theranostic drug delivery systems. These systems are bi-modal systems, which contain an imaging agent (specifically MRI responsive superparamagnetic nanoparticles, Fe3O4) and a drug-loading segment.

Alexander Tropsha, Ph.D.

(919) 966-2955

Alex 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. He is creating new approaches to protein 3D structure analysis and prediction based on the principles of statistical geometry.

Nick Tsihlis, Ph.D.

(919) 843-5243

Nick Tsihlis’s focus is on developing and evaluating therapies for patients with vascular disease, as well as understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying how these therapies work. Specifically, he has been working on describing the link between UbcH10, a protein that is required for proper cell cycle progression and cell proliferation, and ...

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Andrew Wang, M.D.


The central theme of Andrew Wang's research program is to apply advances from other fields such as chemical engineering, materials science, biomedical engineering and nanotechnology, to the field of oncology. Research Aims Include: Nanoparticle-based radiosensitizers Nanoparticle chemosensitizers Nanoparticle formulation of "fiorgotten" drugs Biomatrix scaffolds for the ex vivo culturing of primary tumor cells Combining particle drug ...

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William Zamboni, Pharm.D., Ph.D.

(919) 843-6665

William Zamboni, Pharm.D., Ph.D., received his bachelor of science, doctor of pharmacy and doctor of philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He completed his oncology residency at the Warren G. Magnuson Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, MD and his research fellowship ...

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Faculty with Duke University Appointments

Ashutosh Chilkoti, Ph.D.

Ashutosh_ChilkotiAshutosh Chilkoti is the Theo Pilkington Professor and the chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University. His research in biomolecular engineering and biointerface science focuses on the development of new molecular tools and technology’s that borrow from molecular biology, protein engineering, polymer chemistry, and surface science that can then be exploited for the development of applications that span the range from bioseparations, plasmonic biosensors, low-cost clinical diagnostics, and drug delivery. Chilkoti received his Ph.D. from The University of Washington.

Fan Yuan, Ph.D.

fan_yuanFan Yuan’s research interests include drug and gene delivery, mechanisms of molecular transport in cells and tissues, and tumor pathophysiology. The goal of Yuan’s research is two-fold. One is to improve delivery of therapeutic agents in solid tumors; and the second is to understand mechanisms of drug resistance in tumors caused by intrinsic cellular heterogeneity and physiological barriers. These studies may provide useful information on how to improve clinical treatment of cancer based on currently available drugs or molecular medicines in the future. Research projects include quantification of transport parameters, delivery of drugs encapsulated in temperature sensitive liposomes, physical interventions of drugs, electric field-mediated gene delivery, mathematical modeling of drug and gene delivery. Dr. Yuan received his B.S. and M.S at Beijing University, and completed his Ph.D. at City University of New York.

Tatiana Bronich, Ph.D.

bronichTatiana Bronich’s research interests are in the area of self-assembling polymer materials and applications of these materials in medicine. Of special interest is the design and study of novel types of functional materials based on complexes formed between block ionomers and oppositely charged polymers and low molecular weight amphiphilic molecules. These systems are of great fundamental importance as models of biological systems formed as a result of self-assembly processes. In addition, her recent work has expanded to include the application of these amphiphilic block copolymers and block ionomer complexes in drug delivery to treat cancer and the development of the polycation-DNA complexes for gene delivery. Bronich completed her M.S. and Ph.D. at Moscow State University.

Yevgeny Brudno, Ph.D.

Yevgeny Brudno is faculty at the Joint Biomedical Engineering Department at UNC-Chapel Hill and NCSU-Raleigh. Research in the Brudno lab focuses on exploiting cutting-edge chemical, biomaterial and nanomedicine technologies to understand physiological responses during disease and regeneration and fulfill critical unmet needs in the clinic. His group will use chemical prodrug therapy, controlled drug delivery and nanomedicine to enable new forms of cancer chemotherapy and immunotherapy as well as treatment of infection and other diseases.

Kazunori Kataoka, Ph.D.

Kazunori-Kataoka400x400Kazunori Kataoka serves as director of the Center for NanoBio Integration at the University of Tokyo. He serves as a member of the scientific advisory board at Appian Labs, LLC. He is the Editor of Journal of Biomaterials Science, Polymer Edition, the editor of Journal of Controlled Release (Controlled Release Society), and the associate editor of Biomacromolecules (American Chemical Society). He has been the President of Japanese Society of Gene Design and Delivery since 2004 and a vice president of the Society of Polymer Science, Japan since 2008. He serves on the editorial board of twelve international journals. He has been a visiting professor at Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich since 2008. He is professor of Biomaterials at the University of Tokyo, with a joint appointment in the Division of Clinical Biotechnology at the Center for Disease Biology and Integrative Medicine at the University of Tokyo Medical School. He received B.S. (1974) degree in Organic Chemistry, and M.S. (1976) and Ph.D. (1979) degrees in Polymer Chemistry at the University of Tokyo under the guidance of Prof. Teiji Tsuruta.

Natalia Klyachko, Ph.D.

Natalia-KlyachkoNatalia Klyachko serves as deputy director of Nanobiomaterials and Nanobiotechnology at Moscow State University, as well as a professor in Chemistry, and as deputy head chair of Chemical Enzymology at MSU.



Robert Luxenhofer, Ph.D.

Luxenhofer_normalRobert Luxenhofer completed his doctorate in polymer chemistry with the development of novel functional polymers for applications in nanomedicine at the Technische Universität München, Germany, in 2007. During a postdoctoral stay at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, USA he studied endocytosis of different nanomedicines and developed novel high-capacity drug delivery systems. In 2009 he moved to the Technische Universität Dresden, Germany and is since developing high-performance polymers for applications in nanomedicine.

Aaron Mohs, Ph.D.

Aaron MohsAaron Mohs received his B.A. in Chemistry from St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict (Collegeville, MN).  He subsequently completed his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Utah, training under Zheng-Rong LuMost recently, Mohs completed his postdoctoral fellowship in joint Emory-Georgia Tech Department of Biomedical Engineering, as an Emory-GT Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence Distinguished Fellow under the mentorship of Shuming Nie.

Judy Riffle, Ph.D.

jriffleJudy Riffle received a B.S. in Textiles from Virginia Tech, as well as completing her Ph.D. in Chemistry and serving as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemistry at VT. Dr. Riffle managed the Materials Division of Thoratec Laboratories before advancing to V.P. of Research and Development there. She has and continues to serve as a professor in the Chemistry Department at Virginia Tech, where she is also the director of Macromolecular Science and Engineering Education.