Tirrell Group

Handan Acar, PhD

  • Postdoctoral Researcher (Alumni 2017)
    Assistant Professor, University of Oklahoma

  • Contact: hacar@uchicago.edu

Handan Acar received her BSc in Gazi University in 2006 and MSc In Ankara University in 2008. She obtained her PhD in materials science and nanotechnology in UNAM, Bilkent University in 2013, where she worked on the synthesis and characterization of self-assembling peptides and their application as templates for one-dimensional inorganic nanostructures under the supervision of Professor Mustafa O. Guler. Then she moved to Iowa to work as a postdoctoral researcher in mechanical engineering at Iowa State University (2013-2014) with Professor Reza Montazami. In 2014 she joined Professor Matthew Tirrell's group as a postdoctoral researcher at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago where she is working jointly with Professor James LaBelle's group at the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago. Her current work focuses on complex coacervate formations with novel polyelectrolytes and designing peptides as biocompatible-engineered therapeutics at the nanoscale.

Handan's research aims to use non-biological interdisciplinary approaches for biological applications. One part of her research is on forming complex coacervates in organic solvents in order to expand their applications. She also focuses on designing and developing peptides that can be used both therapeutically and diagnostically, binding to target cells with high levels of specificity. Her research utilizes both chemical and biological concepts in an effort to develop cancer therapeutics. She uses chemical tools and engineering approaches, such as programmable self-assembling molecules, to understand and manipulate biological systems. These include biocompatible engineered therapeutics at the nanoscale. In the Tirrell goup, her specific interest is on designing peptide amphihile micelles for immunology and cancer therapy in collaboration with Dr. James LaBelle.

Activating the Intrinsic Pathway of Apoptosis Using BIM BH3 Peptides Delivered by Peptide Amphiphiles with Endosomal Release

Schnorenberg, M.R., Bellairs, J.A., Samaeekia, R., Acar, H., Tirrell, M.V. and LaBelle, J.L., 2019. Activating the Intrinsic Pathway of Apoptosis Using BIM BH3 Peptides Delivered by Peptide Amphiphiles with Endosomal Release. Materials, 12(16), p.2567.

Zwitterionic polypeptides for antifouling membranes

Maria Piatkovsky, Handan Acar, Amanda B. Marciel, Matthew Tirrell, Moshe Herzberg. Zwitterionic polypeptides for antifouling membranes. Journal of Membrane Science. 2018. Vol. 549, Pg. 507-514.

Self-assembling peptide-based building blocks in medical applications

H. Acar, S. Srivastava, E. J. Chung, M. R. Schnorenberg, J. C. Barrett, J. L. LaBelle, M. Tirrell. Self-assembling peptide-based building blocks in medical applications. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews. 2016.