I am the administrative assistant of Sangeeta Bhatia and LMRT. I grew up in California, New Jersey, and Texas, and received my B.S. in Psychology from U.T. Austin and M.S. in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M University. I started working at M.I.T. in 2000 and joined the LMRT group in 2005.
I completed my undergraduate training at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, earning my B.Sc.H in Life Sciences in 1996. My PhD was granted in 2002 by University of Toronto’s Immunology department, for my research performed in the laboratory of Christopher Paige at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Princess Margaret Hospital. My work focused on the signaling pathways responsible for an essential selection point in early B lymphocyte differentiation. I continued to explore how microenvironmental signals influence cell fate decisions during postdoctoral work with David Scadden at Massachusetts General Hospital. While part of this group, I helped design, implement and direct an undergraduate research intern program at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. I moved from the bench to scientific publishing when I joined Cell Press as a founding editor of the journal Cell Stem Cell. I joined LMRT in the fall of 2011, where I serve as a “chief of staff” to the Director, Dr Bhatia, by helping to oversee the research and operations of the entire group. In this role, I function as an internal resource person for all matters related to experimental design and conduct, scientific paper and grant writing. I also work to support and promote the professional development of all group members.
Lian-Ee is a Singaporean native, who received her B.A. in Biology from Cornell University in 1996. After two and half years as a Research Assistant at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and Dana Farber Cancer Institute, she decided to pursue her Ph.D. at Tufts University School of Medicine. She joined the lab of Dr. John Coffin, working on the effects of the surrounding chromosome environment on retroviral expression. After completing her Ph.D. in 2006, she returned to Longwood Medical Area as a lab manager in the lab of Dr. Richard Blumberg at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, focusing on musocal immunology. She took a short hiatus after the birth of her second child and subsequently became the Lab Manager in the Fiebiger Lab at Children’s Hospital, working on food allergies for almost two years. She made her way to the corporate world and became Operations Manager at Widestreets Corp, an IT startup. In the spring of 2014, she decided to return to science and joined LMRT as Lab Manager.
Dr. Tarek Fadel is the Assistant Director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine at the MIT Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. Before joining MIT, Dr. Fadel was a Staff Scientist at the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO), the coordinating body for the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). During his time at NNCO, he served as the Executive Secretary for the Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee of the White House’s National Science and Technology Council's Committee on Technology. The NSET Subcommittee coordinates planning, budgeting, program implementation, and review of the NNI.
Dr. Fadel received his PhD from Yale University in 2011, where he continued as a post-doctoral researcher to develop nanoscale platforms for cancer immunotherapy. He previously held positions as Vice President for Research at the International Technology Research Institute, and Product and Systems Interaction Engineer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Dr. Fadel is lead author of several peer-reviewed publications in the fields of nanomedicine, cancer immunotherapy, and biophysics.
I received my Ph.D. in Cell Biology from University of Barcelona I Hospital Clinic working on the biology of hepatic stellate cells in the context of liver pathophysiology. In the Bhatia laboratory, I have been interested in understanding the maintenance of the functional phenotype of cultured liver sinusoidal cells and hepatocytes with the goal of developing in vitro systems that better recapitulate liver biology. Recently, we have started to use these models to recapitulate and characterize the liver stage of Malaria infection. Our current goals are to establish a reproducible human platform in order to 1) study the biology of the infection process in the liver; 2) screen compounds for activity against the liver stage of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax (including the hypnozoite); and 3) develop and validate pre-erythrocytic vaccines.
Liliana graduated from Universidade do Porto (Portugal) in 2003 and completed her doctoral studies in 2009 at Institut Pasteur (France). Liliana has a long term interest in malaria research that stemmed in the laboratory of Artur Scherf in Paris (France), where she was engaged in deciphering the mechanisms of gene regulation and antigenic variation in the most virulent malaria parasite. Later, in the laboratory of Maria Mota (Lisbon, Portugal), she focused on understanding host nutrient sensing by malaria parasites, using animal models. Currently, in the Bhatia group, she is working with the liver team to investigate host-parasite interactions during liver-stage malaria.
Post-Doctoral Researchers and Fellows
Quinton received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of New Mexico in 2011 and a Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 2017. He completed his graduate work under the mentorship of Dr. Sharon Gerecht, where he explored the roles of physical cues on human pluripotent stem cell differentiation towards vascular lineages. During his graduate studies, he was awarded both the NSF-GRFP and NIH/NHLBI F-31 fellowships and in 2016 was named a Siebel Scholar. In the Bhatia lab, Quinton is interested in using engineering approaches to control the extracellular niche, to drive the self-assembly of liver tissue for therapeutic application.
Justin was born and raised in Minnesota. He completed his undergraduate degrees in Chemistry and Cell Biology at Minnesota State University and was a Howard Hughes Undergraduate Research Fellow at Stanford University. He matriculated into the Medical Science Training (MD/PhD) program at the University of California - San Diego School of Medicine. His thesis work, under the mentorship of Leanne Jones at the Salk Institute, focused on understanding mechanisms regulating the maintenance and regeneration of the stem cell microenvironment. Following completion of his internship at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, Justin entered the Harvard Radiation Oncology Residency Program. He is broadly interested in the role of regenerative therapies in oncology.
Liang received her B.S. in Biotechnology from Nankai University (Tianjin, China) in 2006. She then studied at University of Waterloo (Waterloo, ON, Canada) where she obtained her M.S. degree in molecular biology and biochemistry. From 2009, she enrolled in the Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences program at Northwestern University completing her doctoral studies in Professor Chad Mirkin’s laboratory. Her dissertation research was at the interface of biology and materials science, and focused on the synthesis, characterization, and application of nanostructures for nucleic acid therapeutics. Throughout her education, her work was recognized by honors such as the HHMI International Student Research Fellowship, the Ryan Fellowship and the Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad.
After earning her Ph.D., Liang joined the LMRT in April 2015. Here at LMRT, she is working to further develop therapeutic delivery solutions from a multidisciplinary viewpoint, with a continuous interest in exploring the diagnostic and therapeutic capacities of nanomaterials against tumor metastasis.
Leslie received her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2009 and Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Washington in 2015. She completed her graduate work in Professor Suzie Pun’s lab developing synthetic polymers for in situ cross-linking of fibrin matrices in blood clots to accelerate clotting kinetics and increase clot stiffness for hemostatic applications. She was recognized for her graduate work and received the 2015 UW College of Engineering Award for outstanding service and achievement. Her research interests broadly encompass drug delivery and the human microbiome. At LMRT, she is developing nanomaterials for intracellular delivery of antibiotics to multidrug resistant bacteria to increase therapeutic efficacy of drugs previously limited by their poor penetration. Outside of lab, Leslie enjoys the occasional run, karaoke, strategy board games, and trips to Costco.
Tiffany received a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 2010 and Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Rice University in 2015. Her thesis work in the laboratory of Dr. Antonios Mikos focused on the development of injectable, dual physically and chemically gelling hydrogels for craniofacial bone tissue engineering, for which she was awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein F31 fellowship from the National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research. At LMRT, Tiffany is interested in further exploring the interaction between biomaterials and cell biology, especially in regards to microarchitecture for liver tissue engineering and pathogenesis.
Allison received her B.A. in Biology from Hamilton College (Clinton, NY) in 2007. Following undergrad, she spent a year investigating malaria in pregnancy and drug resistant malaria parasites as a Fulbright Scholar with Dr. Daouda Ndiaye at the University Cheikh Anta Diop and Le Dantec Hospital in Dakar, Senegal. This experience sparked a deep interest in understanding both malaria parasite biology, and the public health interventions needed to control malaria disease. From 2008-2010, Allison was an Emerging Infectious Disease Training Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA, where she worked to develop novel molecular diagnostic tools for malaria with Dr. Venkatachalam Udhayakumar. Allison continued her work in malaria as a graduate student with Dr. Dyann Wirth at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, receiving her Ph.D. in 2016. Her NSF-supported dissertation research investigated fatty acid metabolism in Plasmodium falciparum parasites. She also used in vitro drug resistance selection approaches to identify novel genetic markers for artemisinin resistance. In the Bhatia lab, Allison is interested in understanding the host immune response to the liver stage of malaria infection.
Chayanon received his B.Eng. in Nanoengineering from Chulalongkorn University (Thailand) in 2011 and spent a year working as a research assistant in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Mahidol University (Thailand). He then completed his Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Washington in 2017 under the mentorship of Prof. Suzie Pun. His thesis work focused on development and optimization of a targeting peptide that binds to tumor-associated macrophages for cancer therapy. At LMRT, he is interested in developing drug delivery technologies to improve cancer and antibacterial therapies.
Ahmet received his B.S. (2011) and MSc. (2013) in Chemistry from Bilkent University, Turkey. During his studies, he delved into the synthesis of supramolecular borane-based photodynamic agents for skin cancer. He then moved to Switzerland and completed his Ph.D. in École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in the laboratory of Prof. Francesco Stellacci. His doctoral work was focused on developing novel methods to characterize protein-nanoparticle interactions in thermodynamic and mechanistic perspectives. He also collaborated in number of studies involving lymph-node accumulating mixed-ligand coated gold nanoparticles as drug delivery agents. He was awarded with a Swiss National Foundation fellowship for his postdoctoral studies in LMRT. Here, he is investigating the effects of serum proteins on diagnostic and therapeutic nano-agents and developing methods to exploit protein adhesion on nanoparticles for enhanced efficiency.
Arnav graduated summa cum laude in December 2012 from the Engineering Honors program at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. At UT, Arnav was a recipient of the National Merit Fellowship and several Cockrell School of Engineering multi-year fellowships. Prior to attending MIT, Arnav worked as a researcher in several different labs: a) Experimental therapeutics department at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, b) Femtosecond Laser Laboratory at UT Austin, and c) Multiscale Thermal Fluids Laboratory at UT Austin. His work on the role of apoptotic proteins in cancer, superhydrophobic surfaces for energy reduction and polymeric materials for surface energy control culminated in several first author publications and American Physical Society conference presentations. During the summer of 2012, Arnav served as an engineering research consultant in the Heat Transfer division at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering (EMRE), working specifically in the areas of heat exchanger fouling management and design.
Arnav is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Medical Engineering and Medical Physics (MEMP) at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST). Broadly, Arnav is interested in modeling human physiology. His work at the LMRT encompasses several aims: a) recapitulating liver pathophysiology in vitro, b) modeling multi-organ pathological conditions on chip, and c) elucidating a library of biomarkers for liver disease processes. Arnav is currently funded by the Paul & Daisy Soros Foundation and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Nil graduated from Washington University in St Louis in 2011 with a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering. At WashU, as a McKelvey Scholar, she worked in the lab of Dr. Rohit Pappu in simulating the conformational preferences and aggregation mechanisms of flanking sequences in polyglutamine expansions. After graduation, she worked at the BioMEMS Resource Center led by Dr. Mehmet Toner where she worked on developing microfluidic mazes for quantifying cancer cell migration as well as a microfluidic chip for Tuberculosis Diagnostics. Nil is currently pursuing a PhD at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST). At LMRT, she is interested in establishing in vivo and in vitro liver platforms for testing Malaria drugs and vaccines.
Colin came to MIT in 2013 after working as a research assistant in Sohail Tavazoie’s lab at the Rockefeller University in NYC, where he studied biomolecular and post-transcriptional mechanisms underlying cancer metastasis, particularly in melanoma. Before that, he received his B.S. cum laude in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University in 2011.
At MIT, Colin is pursuing a Ph.D. in Medical Engineering & Medical Physics through the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences & Technology (HST) Program. At LMRT, he is studying targeted, modular siRNA delivery vehicles for therapeutic applications primarily in cancer and bacterial infections. Additionally, he is interested in research at the interface between nanotechnology and synthetic biology, to develop responsive, tunable therapeutics.
A Goldwater Scholar, Amanda Chen graduated summa cum laude from the University of Rochester (UR) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering in 2014. Her undergraduate work with Dr. Danielle Benoit on cartilage tissue regeneration was recognized by the Society for Biomaterials. At UR, Amanda was the recipient of several national and college-wide awards for leadership, research, and teaching efforts.
She was awarded the Whitaker International Fellowship to pursue a Master of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at Churchill College, University of Cambridge. Here, she focused on developing synthetic liposome vaccines in the laboratory of Dr. Nigel Slater.
As an NSF Fellow, Amanda is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Biological Engineering. Broadly, she is interested in leveraging pathophysiology, systems biology, and materials science to engineer better organs on both the "tiny" (i.e. sub-cellular activity, tissue microarchitecture) and "large" (i.e. organ/system crosstalk) levels. At LMRT, she aims to work on the design and fabrication of multicellular tissue-engineered platforms that perform liver function.
Jesse Kirkpatrick is a native of Miami Beach, Florida, where he was in a rock band. He eventually came to his senses and decided to pursue a degree in Biological Engineering at MIT. There, he engaged in a variety of research activities that fueled his desire to translate engineering technology to the clinic. He worked on liver tissue engineering with Dr. Joseph Vacanti (MGH), studied inflammatory bowel diseases with Dr. Maria Abreu (University of Miami) and Dr. Chen Varol (Tel Aviv-Sourasky Medical Center), developed computational tools for the study of infectious diseases with Dr. Ram Sasisekharan (MIT), investigated the role of innate immunity in the liver disease primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) with Dr. Steven Freedman (BIDMC) and helped validate a microfluidic chip for intracellular delivery at the laboratory of Dr. Robert Langer (MIT).
Upon joining the Medical Engineering and Medical Physics PhD program through the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Jesse’s deep interest in the liver, particularly cholestatic liver diseases, led him to connect with Dr. Bhatia. At LMRT, Jesse develops nanosystems to aid in the early detection of cancer in high-risk patients, particularly focusing on malignancies of the liver, prostate and lung.
Melodi graduated from MIT in June 2016 with a B.S. in Biological Engineering. As an undergraduate, she studied optogenetics under Kay Tye (MIT) and hepatocyte growth under Sangeeta Bhatia (MIT). In the summer of 2015, she also researched proteasome localization under Hermann Steller (Rockefeller University) as a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow. Upon graduation, Melodi began pursuing a PhD in Medical Engineering and Medical Physics through the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program. At LMRT, she is interested in studying infectious disease and developing diagnostics with direct applications to global health. Melodi is being supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. In her spare time, she loves going to concerts and running around Boston.
Ava Soleimany is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Harvard in Biophysics as a NSF Graduate Research Fellow. She graduated from MIT in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Molecular Biology. There, she worked with Dr. Timothy Lu in MIT’s Synthetic Biology Group on engineering state machines, a model of computation, in living cells using synthetic gene networks. While at MIT, Ava was honored with the Henry Ford II Scholarship, awarded to the student with the highest academic standing in the school of engineering. Broadly, Ava is interested in the intersection of nanotechnology, bioinformatics, and immunology. At LMRT, she aims to develop novel nanosensors for understanding disease biology, with a specific focus on the immune system’s role in cancer metastasis.
Henry grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and graduated with departmental honors from the University of Maryland in 2015, where he earned his B.S. in bioengineering with a minor in statistics. As an undergraduate in Dr. John Fisher’s Tissue Engineering & Biomaterials Laboratory, Henry investigated tubular perfusion system bioreactors in the context of three-dimensional culture of critical-sized bone constructs.
At LMRT, Henry is working on nanoparticle drug delivery for applications in traumatic brain injury and clot dissolution.
Kelsey is a born and raised Bostonian who received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Simmons College in 2016. While there, she received honors for her thesis work in Dr. Mary Owen’s lab studying developmental abnormalities in the hindgut of mice with Dominant hemimelia. At LMRT, Kelsey works on a project focusing on using nanoparticles to improve antibiotic delivery into gram-negative bacteria. Outside of lab, Kelsey enjoys telenovelas, cats and a strong cup of coffee.
Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Meghan holds a B.S. in Psychology and a B.S in Biological Sciences: Microbiology / Immunology from Virginia Tech (2010) and an M.H.S. from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (2017) in Molecular Microbiology & Immunology as well as a certificate in Vaccine Science & Policy. She has 6 years of mammalian and insect cell culture experience including previous research on the in vitro culture of the P. falciparum parasite and the development of a transmission blocking assay. At LMRT, Meghan focuses on the liver stage of the parasite.
Renee grew up in Michigan and graduated from MIT with a degree in Chemistry and Biology. As an undergraduate in the Lippard lab, Renee synthesized, characterized and tested the efficacy of novel platinum anticancer drugs. At LMRT she is developing a high-throughput cancer diagnostic platform that uses DNA barcoding to profile protease activity in pre-metastatic cancer. Outside of lab, she enjoys taekwondo.
Niketa grew up in Bangalore, India and graduated from Christ University with a triple major B.Sc in Biotechnology, Chemistry and Zoology in 2018. As an undergraduate, Niketa worked on the Mycobacterium tuberculosis genome. At LMRT, she works on the liver stage of the malarial parasite. Outside the lab, Niketa enjoys naps, dogs and snacks.