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Inaugural NMIN Postdoctoral Award winners announced

The NanoMedicines Innovation Network (NMIN) is pleased to announce the recipients of its inaugural NMIN Postdoctoral Awards: Dr. Noorjahan Aibani and Dr. Jayesh Kulkarni. Details about both recipients and their research plans follow below.

The awardees were selected by the members of NMIN’s Research Management Committee, based on the applicants’ qualifications, as well as the quality of the proposed research projects and training opportunities.

NMIN Postdoctoral Awards provide a stipend of $40,000 a year for a maximum of two years, to enable exceptional postdoctoral scholars to pursue nanomedicine academic research training with Canadian experts.

NMIN Postdoctoral Fellowship Award in Targeted Drug Delivery

Awardee: Dr. Noorjahan (Noor) Aibani

Project: Lipidic nanoparticle formulation of a triple adjuvant for intranasal vaccines for pertussis

Institution: University of Saskatchewan

Supervisor: Dr. Ellen Wasan, College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, University of Saskatchewan

“The NMIN Postdoctoral Award is the precise thrust I need to launch myself in academic research,” comments Dr. Aibani. “It represents an outstanding opportunity to advance my research portfolio toward becoming an accomplished professional in nano-drug delivery.”

Dr. Aibani is working on the formulation of lipid nanoparticles for intranasal delivery of acellular pertussis vaccines with the help of adjuvants which enhance the immunogenic response. She recently joined Dr. Ellen Wasan at the University of Saskatchewan as a Postdoctoral Fellow after completing her PhD at Ulster University in the UK.

“Dr. Aibani’s research is part of a larger vaccine adjuvant development program in our laboratory,” explains her supervisor, Dr. Ellen Wasan. “We are developing mucoadhesive, immunostimulatory adjuvants to enable nasal administration of several vaccines in order to promote mucosal immunity, which is very important for protection from respiratory diseases.”

“The award will extend the time that Dr. Aibani can devote to the project, focused on more effective vaccines for pertussis, which we are working on with the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO)-Intervac in Saskatoon.”

NMIN Postdoctoral Fellowship Award in Gene Therapy

Awardee: Dr. Jayesh (Jay) Kulkarni

ProjectDesign of lipid nanoparticles for gene therapy

Institution: University of British Columbia

Supervisors: Dr. Christian Kastrup, Michael Smith Laboratories, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, School of Biomedical Engineering, and Centre for Blood Research, University of British Columbia; and Dr. Pieter Cullis, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia

“This award will be instrumental in developing my career towards my goal of becoming an independent researcher,” comments Dr. Kulkarni. “As an NMIN postdoctoral fellow, I hope to contribute meaningfully to the Canadian nanomedicine ecosystem and, most importantly, improve patient outcomes.”

Dr. Kulkarni’s research is primarily focused on understanding the biophysical aspects of lipid nanoparticle (LNP) design. With an improved understanding of these formulations and the processes that govern particle formation, he aims to design and develop LNP systems for therapeutic nucleic acid delivery to a variety of tissues, including the skin, blood, and muscle.

“Jay brings an incredible amount of experience and knowledge in the design of LNP systems for nucleic acid delivery to NMIN,” states supervisor Dr. Christian Kastrup. “His research will create new tools for gene therapy, expanding the range of tissues and disorders that can be treated. This award will contribute strongly to developing Jay’s career and support him to achieve his goals.”

“We are pleased that Jay has secured this award as he returns to academic research and look forward to his continued contributions to the nanomedicine field.”

NMIN congratulates its inaugural Postdoctoral Fellows.

NMIN will issue a call for applications in July 2020 for an NMIN Postdoctoral Award in Diagnostics, with the estimated start date of January 1, 2021.

For more information, contact