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Liangfang Zhang

Joan and Irwin Jacobs Chancellor Professor of Nanoengineering and Bioengineering

Dr. Liangfang Zhang received his Ph.D. in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in 2006 under the supervision of Prof. Steve Granick. He was a postdoctoral associate in the laboratory of Prof. Robert Langer at MIT during 2006-2008. He joined the Department of Nanoengineering at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) as an Assistant Professor in July 2008 and was promoted to an Associate Professor with tenure in March 2012. Dr. Zhang’s research interests focus on the design, synthesis, characterization and evaluation of lipid- and polymer-based nanostructured biomaterials. One specific interest lies in developing nanomaterials for healthcare and other medical applications, for example, drug delivery to improve or enable treatments of human diseases. In addition, he also seeks to understand the fundamental sciences underlying the arenas of nanomedicine. Overall, Dr. Zhang's research covers a broad scope of multidisciplinary areas including chemical & molecular engineering, materials science, chemistry, nanotechnology, biotechnology and medicine.

Targeted drugs that treat specific tissues are often attacked by the body’s immune system. Lianfang Zhang’s research group approaches the problem from an engineering perspective and bypasses the biology. They fool the immune system by using natural red blood cell membranes to camouflage nanosponges that deliver drugs and soak up toxins.





Key Words:

anticancer drugs, biomimetic nanotechnologies, cellics therapeutics, immunostimulatory, nanoparticles, nanosponges, toxins.

Dr. Zhang and his research team are focused on developing cutting edge biomimetic nanotechnologies to address complex biological problems associated with human diseases. Of particular interests are the invention and development of cell membrane derived nanoparticles. These biomimetic nanoparticles can be used to deliver anticancer drugs and immunostimulatory agents and also to absorb and neutralize chemical and/or biological toxins that attack human cells. The lab adopts a multidisciplinary approach that involves chemical and biomolecular engineering, materials sciences, chemistry, nanotechnology, biotechnology and medicine. Dr. Zhang’s research work has been consistently published in premium scientific journals including PNAS, Nature Nanotechnology, Nature and others and has received numerous awards and recognition.

As for the commercialization plans, Dr. Zhang’s research on biomimetic nanoparticle technology attracted a high level of interest from business community and investors, leading to the formation of two biotech startup companies, namely Cellics Therapeutics and Cello Therapeutics, both based in San Diego. Cellics develops cell-mimicking nanosponges for biological toxins associated with antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. Cello develops biomimetic nanoparticles for prolonged and targeted drug delivery to treat cancer. Both companies are developing platform technologies, that can either countermeasure broad-spectrum chemical and biological molecules associated with various types of diseases or deliver broad-spectrum of payloads towards diverse medical applications. 

The companies are in their preclinical stages.  Dr. Zhang established the companies by securing professional investors and recruiting competent business leaders.

In Dr. Zhang’s opinion, more efforts and supports should be provided to investigators, especially early-stage investigators, who are interested in translational activity but have no prior experience.

Dr Zhang collaborates with Dr. Victor Nizet’s lab for the testing of biomimetic nanoparticles using murine infection models developed and other transgenic animal models developed by the Nizet lab.

More information about Dr. Zhang’s research work can be found here: