Tirrell Group

Ravand Samaeekia

Ravand Samaeekia received a BS in biology from the Baha'i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) in Iran in 2007. For his BS thesis project, his focus was to utilize tissue and cell culture techniques as well as hormonal combinations to produce a strain of lilium flower with enhanced genetic and morphological traits. He received his MS in cell and molecular biology from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2012; meanwhile, he conducted his MS thesis project on Alzheimer disease at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer Disease Center at Northwestern University, under the supervision of Professor Changiz Geula. He then joined Professor Geoffrey Greene's lab at the University of Chicago Ben May Department for Cancer Research, working on the diagnostic and medicinal significance of microRNAs on breast cancer treatment. Beginning in November 2013, he joined the Tirrell Lab at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, conducting research on the onco-immunology applications of peptide amphiphile-based nano particles.

The process of programmed cell death (apoptosis) is almost universally disrupted in cancer cells, which gives them the ability to divide unlimitedly and become immortal. Ravand's research is focused on reactivating apoptosis in leukemia cancer cells through delivering small peptides that either inhibit antiapoptotic or induce proapoptotic proteins/pathways. Nanoparticles have proven to be a rather effective delivery platform for medicinal peptides. In this study, Ravand synthesizes micelle-type nanoparticles that are fabricated from peptide amphiphiles, performs functional assays to confirm their bioactivity, and aims to use them as the delivery system in an effective and nontoxic dose in vitro and in vivo.