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Research into the control the synthesis of nanoparticle structures that interface with biological systems in order to develop exquisitely targeted, practical, safe and effective therapeutics, imaging agents and biosensors for cancer and other diseases.

Labs in This Research Area

 John Kessler Lab

Focusing on the biology of neural stem cells and growth factors and their potential for regenerating the damaged or diseased nervous system.

Research Description

The Kessler laboratory focuses on the biology of neural stem cells and growth factors and their potential for regenerating the damaged or diseased nervous system. A major interest of the laboratory has been the role of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling in both neurogenesis and gliogenesis and in regulating cell numbers in the developing nervous system.  Both multipotent neural stem cells and pluripotent embryonic stem cells are studied in the laboratory. Recent efforts have emphasized studies of human embryonic stem cells (hESC) and human induced pluripotent stem cells (hIPSC). The Kessler lab oversees the Northwestern University ESC and IPSC core and multiple collaborators use the facility. In addition to the studies of the basic biology of stem cells, the laboratory seeks to develop techniques for promoting neural repair in animal models of spinal cord injury and stroke. In particular, the lab is examining how stem cells and self-assembling peptide amphiphiles can be used together to accomplish neural repair. The lab is also using hIPSCs to model Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders. 

For more information see the faculty profile of John A Kessler, MD.


View Dr. Kessler's full list of publications in PubMed.


John Kessler, MD

 Dong-Hyun Kim Lab

Therapeutic Micro/Nanoparticles and their hybrid derivatives for treatment of various types of cancer.

Research Description

Image-guided medicine is rapidly growing to improve treatment regimens as advancing medical imaging, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), radiography, ultrasound, positron emission tomography (PET), and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). A combination of modern nanoplatforms with high performance in imaging and therapeutics may be critical to improve medical outcomes. One of emerging fields is the image guided therapy using various nanoparticles. Those are including basic bench, preclinical in vitro/in vivo and clinical researches combining synthesis of multifunctional nanoparticle and tracking/navigation tools to improve accuracy and outcomes of the therapeutics. Most of the emerging interventional technique such as heat activated targeted drug delivery, image guided ablation (microwave or HIFU), percutaneous injection gene/bacteria therapy, transcatheter treatments for tumor specific local therapy, serial biopsy, thrombolytic therapy, and so on, can be combined with nanotechnology in clinic. Careful design/selection/synthesis of multifunctional imaging/therapeutic nanomaterials with therapeutic agents will be critical for the translational optimization these new image guided medicine techniques. The DHKIM Lab for Biomaterials​ of Image Guided NanoMedicine has focused on developing various therapeutic/imaging carriers for the treatment of various cancers. Micro/Nanoparticles and their hybrid derivatives have been exploited as vectors for drug/therapeutic delivery and molecular imaging agents of MRI, CT, ultrasound and luminescent/fluorescents. We are working closely with clinicians, medical scientists, biologist and imaging professionals to translate new therapeutic approaches using multifunctional carriers and diagnostic imaging technique to the clinical setting.

For more information, please see Dr. Kim's faculty profile or visit the Kim Lab Website


See Dr. Kim's publications in PubMed.


Email Dr. Kim

Lab Manager: Xiaoke Huang

Phone Kim lab 312-926-3279

 Stephen Miller Lab

Elucidation of mechanisms of pathogenesis and immune regulation of autoimmune disease, allergy and tissue/organ transplantation

Research Description

The laboratory is interested in understanding the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis and immunoregulation of T cell-mediated autoimmune diseases, allergic disease and rejection of tissue and organ transplants.  In particular, we are studying the therapeutic use of short-term administration of costimulatory molecule agonists/antagonists and specific immune tolerance induced by infusion of antigen-coupled apoptotic cells and PLG nanoparticles for the treatment of animal models of multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes, allergic airway disease, as well as using tolerance for specific prevention of rejection of allogeneic and xenogeneic tissue and organ transplants.

For lab information and more, see Dr. Miller's faculty profile.


See Dr. Miller's publications on PubMed.


Contact Dr. Miller at 312-503-7674 or the lab at 312-503-1449.

Lab Staff

Research Faculty

Igal IferganJoseph Podojil, Dan Xu

Adjunct Faculty

John Galvin

Postdoctoral Fellows

Andrew Cogswell, Gabriel Lorca, Tobias Neef, Haley Titus

Lab Manager

Sara Beddow

Technical Staff

Ming-Yi Chiang, Lindsay Moore

Visiting Scholars

Michael Boyne, Daniel Getts

Temporary Staff

Grant Primer

 Evan Scott Lab

Engineering- and materials-based strategies to target inflammation

Research Description

My research objectives are to investigate the basic immunological processes contributing to diverse inflammation-driven pathologies and to develop targeted therapeutic approaches using engineering- and materials-based strategies. More specifically, I aim to achieve controlled elicitation or suppression of the immune system via the rational design of biomimetic delivery systems that target key inflammatory cell populations. These efforts are focused on addressing fundamental problems in the areas of heart disease, vaccination, transplant tolerance, glaucoma, and cancer immunosuppression.

For more information, see Dr. Scott's faculty profile.


See Dr. Scott's publications


Email Dr. Scott

Phone at  847 467 6719


 Alexander Stegh Lab

Defining and targeting the oncogenome of Glioblastoma.

Research Description

Our research program is aimed at understanding the genetic program that underlies the pathogenesis of Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most prevalent and malignant form of brain cancer. Applying a combination of cell/molecular biology, oncogenomic and mouse engineering approaches, we are dedicated to systematically characterize novel gliomagenic oncogenes and tumor suppressors. We will functionally delineate and validate these pathways using cell culture and animal models and develop novel nanotechnological approaches to target these aberrations in established tumors.

For more information see the faculty profile of Alexander H Stegh MD, PhD, or visit  the Alexander H. Stegh Lab website.

Recent Publications

View Dr. Stegh's full list of publications at PubMed


Alexander Stegh, MD, PhD, at 312-503-2879

 C. Shad Thaxton Lab

Fabricating new nanomaterials and translational nanotechnology with regard to nanoparticle-based molecular diagnostics and nanotherapeutics.

Research Description

Shad Thaxton MD, PhD, invented, synthesized, and characterized the first biomimetic high-density lipoprotein nanoparticles. High density lipoproteins (HDLs) are natural nanoparticles that circulate in the human body to carry cholesterol. Cholesterol carried by HDLs is often referred to as “good cholesterol” because HDL blood levels inversely correlate with the development of cardiovascular disease. The Thaxton Group utilizes a gold nanoparticle scaffold to assemble the natural surface chemical components of HDLs to create synthetic HDL nanoparticles. The HDL nanoparticles recapitulate the size, shape, surface chemistry, and cholesterol binding properties of natural HDLs. As such, The Thaxton Lab is using these unique biomimetic materials to better understand the structure-function properties of natural HDLs and also as potential therapies for atherosclerosis and heart disease.

For more information, see the faculty profile of  C. Shad Thaxton, MD, PhD


View Dr. Thaxton's other publications at PubMed


Email Dr. Thaxton

Phone 312-503-1826

Lab Staff

Post-doctoral Fellows

Nick Angeloni, Kannan Mutharasan, Jonathan Rink

Graduate Students

Kaylin M. McMahon, Michael Plebanek, Sushant Tripathy, Andrea Luthi

Research Technician

Amritha Singh

 Gayle Woloschak Lab

Studying radiation-induced mutations in radiation-induced cancers; DNA-TiO2 nanoparticles; Radiosensitivity/motor neuron disease.

Research Description

Gayle E Woloschak, PhD
Gayle E Woloschak, PhD

The Woloschak Lab members focus their research on three main areas.

The Janus Project: Studying radiation-induced mutations in radiation-induced cancers

This 30 year, $200 million set of experiments were performed at 150 laboratories and then terminated before the data were completely analyzed. Funded by the Department of Energy and National Aeronautic and Space Administration, department radiobiologists will continue the data analyses.

Members of the Woloschak laboratory have assumed responsibility from Argonne National Laboratory for archiving tissue associated with 30,000 mice and 4,000 dogs that received various doses and dose-rates of radiation.

These studies examined the effects of dose-rate on radiation-induced toxicities and radiation-induced cancer. They are analyzing cancer cells from these tissues to find differences in mutational spectra that occur in tumors induced in radiation-exposed animals compared to those that occur in spontaneous tumors. Recent scientific concerns about very low dose exposures makes this effort particularly important.


  • University of Chicago
  • Bundewehr Radiobiology Institute in Munich
  • Argonne National Lab

DNA-TiO2 nanoparticles

The researchers have combined the functional properties of the biomolecule DNA and the inorganic compound TiO2. The project is oriented to investigating the functional use of these nanocomposites for intracellular manipulation, imaging and gene silencing.

Radiosensitivity/motor neuron disease

The project's purpose is to better understand the molecular basis for the combined abnormalities from a molecular-cellular perspective. Chip-based mRNA studies, gene promoter analyses, immunohistochemistry and standard molecular approaches are being used.

Learn More

For lab information and more, see Dr. Woloschak's faculty profile and Woloschak Lab site.


See Dr. Woloschak's publications in PubMed.


Contact Dr. Woloschak at 312-503-4323 or via email.

Research Assistant Professor

Tatjana Paunesku, PhD/ email

Additional Resources

  • Feinberg School of Medicine. Annual Report: Excellence in Research: The Bionanoprobe Penetrates More Deeply. Chicago, Feinberg School of Medicine, 2013.

 Youyang Zhao Lab

The Zhao Lab studies the molecular mechanisms of endothelial regeneration and resolution of inflammatory injury as well as endothelial and smooth muscle cell interaction in the pathogenesis of pulmonary vascular diseases.

Research Description

Recovery of endothelial barrier integrity after vascular injury is vital for endothelial homeostasis and resolution of inflammation. Endothelial dysfunction plays a critical role in the initiation and progression of vascular diseases such as acute lung injury (ALI)/acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and atherosclerosis. A part of the research in the lab, employing genetically modified mouse models of human diseases, endothelial progenitor cells/stem cells, and translational research approach as well as nanomedicine, is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of endothelial regeneration and resolution of inflammatory injury and determine how aging and epigenetics regulate these processes (J. Clin. Invest. 2006, 116: 2333; J. Exp. Med. 2010, 207:1675; Circulation 2016, 133: 2447).  We are also studying the role of endothelial cells in regulating macrophage functional polarization and resolving inflammatory lung injury. These studies will identify druggable targets leading to novel therapeutic strategies to activate the intrinsic endothelial regeneration program to restore endothelial barrier integrity and reverse edema formation for the prevention and treatment of ARDS in patients.

Pulmonary hypertension is a progressive disease with poor prognosis and high mortality. We are currently investigating the molecular basis underlying the pathogenesis.  We have recently identified the first mouse model of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) with obliterative vascular remodeling including vascular occlusion and formation of plexiform-like lesions resembling the pathology of clinical PAH (Circulation 2016, 133: 2447). Our previous studies also show the critical role of oxidative/nitrative stress in the pathogenesis of PAH as seen in patients (PNAS 2002, 99:11375; J. Clin. Invest. 2009, 119: 2009). With these unique models and lung tissue and cells from idiopathic PAH patients, we will define the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying severe vascular remodeling and provide novel therapeutic approaches for this devastating disease. 

The Zhao lab employs the state-of-the art technologies including genetic lineage tracing, genetic depletion, genetic reporter, and CRISPR-mediated in vivo genomic editing as well as patient samples to study the molecular mechanisms of acute lung injury/ARDS, and pulmonary hypertension and identify novel therapeutics for these devastating diseases. Current studies include 1) molecular mechanisms of endothelial regeneration and vascular repair following inflammatory lung injury induced by sepsis and pneumonia; 2) how aging and epigenetics regulate this process; 3) how endothelial cells regulate macrophage and neuptrophil function for resolution of inflammation and host defense; 4) stem/progenitor cells in acute lung injury and pulmonary hypertension and cell-based therapy; 5) mechanisms of obliterative pulmonary vascular remodeling; 6) molecular basis of right heart failure; 7) pathogenic role of oxidative/nitrative stress; 8) lung regeneration; 9) drug discovery; 10) nanomedicine.


View publications by Youyang Zhao in PubMed.

For more information, visit Dr. Zhao's Faculty Profile page


Email Dr. Zhao

Contact Dr. Zhao’s Lab at 773-755-6355

Lab Staff

Zhiyu Dai, PhD.
Research Assistant Professor

Xianming Zhang, PhD.
Research Assistant Professor

Narsa Machireddy, PhD.
Research Assistant Professor

Junjie Xing, PhD.
Research Scientist

Colin Evans, PhD.
Research Scientist

Varsha Suresh Kumar, PhD.
Research Scientist

Xiaojia Huang, PhD
Research Scientist

Hua Jin, PhD
Postdoctoral fellow

Yi Peng, PhD
Research Scientist

Mengqi Zhu, M.S.,
Graduate Student

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