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Undergrad research opportunities in pharmacoengineering lab

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Research in the Lai Lab is at the interface of mucus, immunology, nanotechnology, biomaterials, biophysics, bioengineering and modeling. We are currently working in three primary areas: (1) engineering antibodies for improved protection against pathogens and sperm at mucosal surfaces; (2) elucidating adaptive immune response (i.e. induction of antibodies) against nanomaterials; (3) phage engineering for targeted genetic modulation of the microbial communities; (4) cell and protein based immunotherapies for cancers; and (5) computational modeling. Our research has had strong translational impact, with multiple spinoff companies created based on our inventions that have led to multiple FDA-approved drugs as well as drugs currently in active clinical trials and preclinical development. Below are some example areas that we are looking for students.

Phage Engineering: We are actively developing a number of phage platforms that can deliver specific DNA into target bacterial within the complex microbial communities in the gut microbiome, with the goal of either correcting for the underlying cause of diseases caused by the microbiome (e.g. obesity and hypertension), or to convert these microbes into biofactories for production of biotherapeutics directly in the gut. Students will learn a variety of techniques ranging from cloning and molecular biology to phage production/characterization to a variety of in vitro and in vivo assays for assessing phage transduction potency.

Mucosal Immunology/Immunotherapy: The Lai Lab is broadly interested in engineering antibodies for a variety of mucosal applications, such as aerosol antibody therapy for a variety of acute respiratory infections or vaginally delivered antibodies for reinforcing female reproductive health. A number of such antibodies are currently in clinical and preclinical development. Students will gain exposure to a diverse skillsets in cloning and molecular biology, directed evolution (e.g. yeast display), flow cytometry and other functional assays.

Cancer immunotherapy: Bispecific antibody and vector engineering for cancer immunotherapy: We have been engineering bispecific antibodies that can perturb the immune microenvironment within tumors for enhanced immunotherapy, as well as developing vectors that can specifically target B- and T- cells for in vivo engineering of CAR-B and CAR-T cells, primarily focused on enhanced cellular therapy against cancer. Students will get exposed to diverse skillsets in cloning and molecular biology, cell culture, and flow cytometry.

All interested applicants should send a CV and informal transcript to Sam Lai.

Faculty Advisor
Sam Lai
Research Supervisor
Senior Grad Students & Postdocs in lab
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