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NameEmailPhD ProgramResearch InterestPublications
Benhabbour, Rahima
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Pathobiology & Translational Science

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biomaterials, Drug Delivery, Nanomedicine, Pharmacology

Dr. Benhabbour’s academic research focuses on development of novel tunable delivery platforms and polymer-based devices to treat or prevent a disease. Her work combines the elegance of organic and polymer chemistry with the versatility of engineering and formulation development to design and fabricate efficient and translatable nanocarriers and drug delivery systems for cancer treatment and HIV prevention.

Dr. Benhabbour has also Founded her startup company Anelleo, Inc. (AnelleO) in 2016 to develop the first 3D printed intravaginal ring as a platform technology for women’s health.

Current technologies in development in Dr. Benhabbour’s Lab include:
– 3D Printed intravaginal ring technology: A) Multipurpose prevention technology (MPT) for prevention of HIV/STIs and unplanned pregnancy.
– Polymer based ultra-long-acting injectable implant for HIV prevention and treatment.
– Combinatory chitosan/cellulose nanocrystals thermoresponsive hydrogel system: A) Sub-Q or intraosseous injectable for treatment of osteoporosis; B) Bio-ink for 3D bioprinting; C) Scaffold for stem cell delivery (e.g. iNSCs for treatment of post-surgical glioblastoma.
– Mucoadhesive thin film for treatment of vulvodynia.
– Targeted nanoparticles and hydrogel scaffolds for treatment of NSCLC.

Lu, Zhiyue
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Chemistry

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biomaterials, Biophysics, Cell Signaling, Computational Biology, Drug Delivery, Systems Biology

Button, Brian
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Biochemistry & Biophysics

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biochemistry, Biomaterials, Biophysics, Cell Biology, Cell Signaling, Drug Delivery, Drug Discovery, Nanomedicine, Pathology, Physiology, Systems Biology, Translational Medicine

The Button lab in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics is part of the Marsico Lung Institute. Our lab is actively involved in projects that are designed to define the pathogenesis of muco-obstructive pulmonary disorders and to identify therapies that could be used to improve the quality of life in persons afflicted by these diseases. In particular, our research works to understand the biochemical and biophysical properties of mucin biopolymers, which give airway mucus its characteristic gel-like properties, and how they are altered in diseases such as Asthma, COPD, and cystic fibrosis.

Nguyen, Juliane
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Pharmaceutical Sciences

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, Biomaterials, Drug Delivery, Immunology, Translational Medicine

The Nguyen lab develops the next generation of effective and safe biotherapeutics for life-threatening diseases such as cancer and myocardial infarction. We engineer novel immunomodulatory carriers based on genetically encoded materials and lipids that home to the site of disease, respond to changes in the microenvironment, and effectively deliver nucleic acids and drugs.

Polacheck, William
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Cell Biology & Physiology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biomaterials, Cancer Biology, Cardiovascular Biology, Cell Biology, Translational Medicine

The Polacheck Lab develops microfluidic and organ-on-chip technology for disease modeling and regenerative medicine. Our efforts are organized around three primary research thrusts: 1) Developing humanized microphysiological models for inherited and genetic disorders; 2) Defining the role of biofluid mechanics and hemodynamics on the cellular microenvironment; 3) Understanding the role of cell-cell adhesion in the generation and propagation of cellular forces during morphogenesis. We further work to translate the technology and techniques developed in our lab into tissue engineered therapies for organ replacement and regenerative medicine.

Knight, Abigail
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Chemistry

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biochemistry, Biomaterials, Nanomedicine

The Knight group focuses on designing novel macromolecular materials with functions inspired by biological systems. These materials will generate platforms of new biomimetic polymeric architectures addressing growing concerns in treating, diagnosing, and preventing human disease. This research bridges the fields of chemical biology and polymer chemistry using characterization and synthetic tools including polymer and solid-phase synthesis and nanomaterial characterization. Specific project areas include: (1) developing a new class of peptide-polymer amphiphiles inspired by metalloproteins, (2) designing well-defined polymer bioconjugates for biosensing, and (3) evolving functional biomimetic polymers.

Hingtgen, Shawn
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Pharmaceutical Sciences

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biomaterials, Cell Signaling, Drug Delivery, Stem Cells, Translational Medicine

Imagine a naturally intelligent therapy that can seek out and destroy cancer cells like no other available treatment.  In the Hingtgen Lab, we are harnessing Nobel Prize-winning advancements to create a new type of anti-cancer treatment: personalized stem cell-based therapies.  We use a patient’s own skin sample and morph it into cells that chase down and kill cancer. We take advantage of a little-known aspect of stem cells- they can home in on cancer by picking up a signal through receptors on the cell surface. All the while, the therapeutic stem cells are pumping out potent anti-cancer drugs that selectively kill any cancer cell nearby while leaving the healthy brain unharmed. Our initial studies focused on aggressive brain cancers, however we quickly expanded our testing to a variety of cancer types. Working at the interface of basic science and human patient testing, our ultimate goal is to translate this novel approach into the clinical setting where it can re-define treatment for cancers that currently have no effective treatment options.

Legant, Wesley R.
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Pharmacology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biomaterials, Cancer Biology, Cell Biology, Cell Signaling, Computational Biology

Life is animate and three-dimensional.  Our lab develops tools to better understand living specimens at single molecule, cellular, and tissue level length scales.  Our current efforts comprise three synergistic research areas: 1) development and application of novel fluorescent imaging modalities including: super resolution, light sheet, and adaptive optical microscopy 2) investigation of how mechanical forces and cytoskeletal dynamics drive cancer cell migration through complex three-dimensional environments, and 3) generation of microfabricated platforms to precisely control the cellular microenvironment for tissue engineering and drug screening.

Forest, Greg
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Bioinformatics & Computational Biology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biomaterials, Computational Biology

Research interests include: transport processes in the lung, flow and structure of nano-materials & macromolecular fluids, weakly compressible transport phenomena, solitons and optical fiber applications, inverse problems for material characterization and modeling of transport in multiphase porous media.

DeSimone, Joseph M.
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Chemistry, Pharmacology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biomaterials, Cancer Biology, Nanomedicine, Pharmacology

The direct fabrication and harvesting of monodisperse, shape-specific nano-biomaterials are presently being designed to reach new understandings and therapies in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.  Students interested in a rotation in the DeSimone group should not contact Dr. DeSimone directly.  Instead please contact Chris Luft at jluft@email.unc.edu.