About Us

Principal Investigators

David Gorenstein, Ph.D., Contact Principal Investigator, oversees overall administrative responsibilities at UTHSC-Houston for the chemical linkage of fluorophors, thioaptamers (and X-aptamers) to nanoparticles. He will oversee all thioaptamer and X-aptamer selections and preparations. Dr. Gorenstein is the Deputy Director and Professor of The Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine at The University of Texas at Houston. Dr. Gorenstein has 40 years of experience in protein and nucleic acid biochemistry (and more recently proteomics), drug development, and the development of biophysical applications of NMR spectroscopy to probe the detailed structure and dynamics of proteins and nucleic with over 250 publications. He is inventor of over 3 dozen patents (awarded and pending) on the synthesis of dithiophosphate oligonucleotide analogues and thiophosphate aptamer combinatorial selection technologies.


Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, is the President and CEO of The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, where he holds the Ernest Cockrell Jr. Distinguished Endowed Chair. He is also the director of the Institute of Academic Medicine and executive vice president of The Methodist Hospital System, and is president of The Alliance for NanoHealth in Houston. Dr. Mauro Ferrari is a founder of biomedical nano/micro-technology, especially in their applications to drug delivery, cell transplantation, implantable bioreactors, and other innovative therapeutic modalities. In these fields, he has published more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and six books. He is the inventor of more than 30 issued patents, with about thirty more pending in the US and internationally. His contributions have been recognized by a variety of accolades, including: the Presidential Young Investigator Award of the National Science Foundation; the Shannon Director's Award of the National Institutes of Health; the Wallace H. Coulter Award for Biomedical Innovation and Entrepreneurship; and the Italiani nel Mondo Award from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Anil K. Sood, M.D., Principal Investigator, is Professor and Vice Chair for Translational Research in the Departments of Gynecologic Oncology & Reproductive Medicine. He is also Director of the Blanton-Davis Ovarian Cancer Research Program and Co-Director of the Center for RNA Interference and Non-Coding RNA. His research is focused in three main areas: 1) development of new strategies for systemicin vivo siRNA delivery using biocompatible nanoparticles; 2) effect of neuroendocrine stress hormones on ovarian cancer growth and progression; and 3) development of novel anti-vascular therapeutic approaches. Dr. Sood has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and has authored and co-authored several book chapters, and he serves on the editorial board for several journals. He is a Deputy Editor for Gynecologic Oncology. Dr. Sood has received major recognition for his research accomplishments including the Hunter Award, the Margaret Greenfield/Carmel Cohen Excellence in Ovarian Cancer Research Prize, and the GCF/Claudia Cohen Research Prize for Outstanding Gynecologic Cancer Researcher.  He was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation, an honor society for physician-scientists. Dr. Sood is actively involved in teaching graduate students and clinical fellows.  He is a member of The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and teaches classes related to cancer cell signaling pathways.


Gabriel Lopez-Berestein, M.D., Principal Investigator, is a professor in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Lopez-Berestein has been with MD Anderson since 1979 and has more than 30 years of experience in cancer research. He has published more than 200 research articles, reviews and book chapters, and has edited books in the area of cancer research. His two major areas of interest are nanoparticulate carriers for the delivery of nucleotides and small molecules in the treatment of cancer, and cell differentiation and apoptosis signaling in acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). Dr. Lopez-Berestein’s research efforts concentrate on the development of nanoliposomes and nanoparticles for the delivery of siRNA to target major signaling pathways in cancer. Several of these targets were identified to play a prominent role in cell growth in his laboratory. He brought from concept to clinic, seven different antimicrobial and antitumor agents. Of those seven, one, Abelcet, reached the market and the other six continue in different stages of clinical development.


Jennifer West, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, is Fitzpatrick Family University Professor of Engineering at Duke University. Dr. West’s research in biomaterials and tissue engineering involves the synthesis, development, and application of novel, biofunctional materials, and the use of biomaterials and engineering approaches to study biological problems. Current projects include the design of ECM-mimetic hydrogel materials, novel microfabrication strategies for biomimetic patterning, and nanoparticle theranostics. West's research in biomaterials, nanotechnology and tissue engineering involves the synthesis, development, and application of novel biofunctional materials, and the use of biomaterials and engineering approaches to study biological problems.