By Jennifer Khirallah, Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate
Research at Tufts University spans a wide variety of areas with scientists and engineers that contribute to and advance their fields. I am working in the Xu Lab in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, where we study the use of lipid nanoparticles for small molecule delivery for therapeutic applications.
The Xu lab, located in the Science and Technology Center, is run by Professor Qiaobing Xu. We collaborate with different professors, institutions, and doctors to utilize lipid nanoparticles to deliver a therapeutic cargo for different treatments. These lipid nanoparticles have been designed to target specific organs and cells, such as the liver, lung, spleen, and brain, and therefore acts as a targeted delivery vehicle.
There are many completed and ongoing projects in our lab that have use our lipid nanoparticles in applications such as cancer vaccines, gene editing liver cells, and neurotransmitter-derived lipidoids for brain delivery. I am working on two projects; one project analyzes the use of a liver targeting lipid nanoparticle for treatment of metabolic disorders and the other project aims to analyze and optimize the long-term stability of mRNA-loaded lipid nanoparticles.
I found my passion in this research subject during my various experiences in both research and industry. I worked with different types of nanoparticles for a plethora of applications and eventually found this cutting-edge approach in the Xu lab. The research done in our lab is pushing boundaries and progressing medicine today. Being part of that advancement makes me excited to go to lab every day!
I work extremely independently, and this has pushed me to think more critically and to rely on myself for my needs and goals. I set my own experiments and timelines and am directly responsible for the progress of my projects, which is teaching me about time management, planning, and adaptation. Research has so many bumps that I have learned to adapt in order to save an experiment, which has taught me how to be a quick decision maker under pressure. Overall, the Xu Lab has interesting research and I find the work fascinating. I am grateful to be involved in a laboratory with direct clinical translation and to contribute to the drug delivery field. The technology being developed in this field is revolutionary and can change modern medicine as we know it.