19th July 2017 – Goutham Radha, Howard University

Goutham RadhaEver considered why you choose the field that you chose? The very first time I saw rectus abdominis contracting in frog’s ringers attached to lever and a smoked Sherrington drum, I was awestruck. That is when I realized why I chose scientific research as my career. I worked on several research projects in Pharmacology during my Bachelors. It is during that time that I learned what it takes to do research.

After my Bachelors in Pharmacy, I worked towards a Masters in Cell and Molecular Biology. I worked in a lab working on Neurological Effects of HIV-1. Though a lot is established about what HIV-1 does in the peripheral body, we do not have much information about what it does in the brain. The virus can cross the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) and infect astrocytes, replicate and cause a latent infection. What worsens the condition, is that the Antireterovirals, do not cross the BBB, and hence the virus in brain is not affected. I used several methods in the lab to ascertain the effects of some of the viral proteins in astrocytes.

Currently, I’m working in a research lab at Howard University, in Washington, DC. The lab’s focus is to understand the pathology of Breast cancer. Aside from my research, I’m a Photographer and I love it. I have an almost active Instagram account and a website (which is still in progress, typical researcher, right?). Recently, I started playing Ultimate Frisbee and I absolutely love it. I try to stay active, run, workout, and Science!

November 9th 2015 – Moe Wehbe, BC Cancer (UBC Pharmaceutical Sciences)

Moe WehbeMy name is Moe Wehbe and I’m a 4th graduate student at the University of British Columbia doing research out of the BC Cancer agency in Pharmaceutical sciences. My goal is to create lipid nanoparticles for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most aggressive and common type of primary brain tumour. The human brain is naturally shielded from the rest of the body through the blood brain barrier. Although, this is important to keep us healthy it provides a unique barrier that needs to be overcome when trying to treat brain tumours. GBM is commonly treated with a combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Many chemotherapeutics are unable to reach the tumour due to this barrier, this makes treatment difficult. Cancer treatment through chemotherapy is often given as a combination of drugs, GBM cannot be treated this way due to the insufficient number of drugs able to enter the brain and reach the tumour. Thus, I would like to increase the number of drugs available to treat GBM. My hypothesis is that for drugs that have some propensity to cross the BBB, increasing circulation lifetime should increase the amount of drug accumulated in the tumour site. Increasing drug circulation lifetime can be achieved through encapsulation by liposomes. The alteration in drug pharmacokinetics has been well documented with different liposome formulations created using a variety of lipid compositions. The model drug I’m using for this work is Carboplatin which does show some propensity to cross the blood brain barrier and the ability to kill GBM cells. An important aspect in my approach to drug formulation development is to ensure that everything I do is scaleable to larger batches. This is a necessity to have what we do in the lab translatable to larger batches and eventually the clinic. For this reason, the formulations themselves remain very simple using a passive equilibration to achieve high and efficient loading in the liposomes themselves. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have on lipid based drug delivery, challenges associated with brain delivery and drug pharmacokinetics.