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News from 2019

 December 16, 2019  

Our recent paper "A cationic amphiphilic co-polymer as a carrier of nucleic acid nanoparticles (NANPs) for controlled gene silencing, immunostimulation, and biodistribution" is featured on the cover of Volume 23 of Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine! Congratulations to our collaborative team!

Nanomedicine Cover.png

  November 25, 2019  

Our invited review entitled "Innate immune responses triggered by nucleic acids inspire the design of immunomodulatory nucleic acid nanoparticles (NANPs)" has just been published in Current Opinion in Biotechnology! Congratulations to Morgan, Dr. Johnson, Dr. Panigaj, and Dr. Afonin.

(Click here to read it!)

  November 23, 2019  

Our undergraduate researchers Allison Tran and Rosalie Truong both gave oral presentations on their work at the SNCURCS: State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research & Creativity Symposium which was hosted at Duke University and the North Carolina School of Science & Math!

Allison Tran and Rosalie Truong - State

  November 15, 2019  

Morgan presented a poster entitled "From blight to bright: Detecting single point mutations with fluorescent nucleic acid biosensors" at UNC Charlotte's Poster 2.0 Competition based around the latest #betterposter design and was awarded first place!

Morgan Chandler - UNCC Poster 2.0 2019

  November 5, 2019  

Our review "Aptamers as Modular Components of Therapeutic Nucleic Acid Nanotechnology" has been published in ACS Nano! Congratulations to Dr. Panigaj, Dr. Johnson, Weina, Jessica, Ekaterina, Morgan, and Dr. Afonin!

(Click here to read it!)

  October 29, 2019  

Nanomaterials shine in a nano-sized presentation—Morgan presented her research at UNC Charlotte's Three Minute Thesis competition.

Morgan Chandler - UNCC 3MT 2019

  October 22, 2019  

The Afonin Lab enjoyed this year's SERMACS in Savannah, GA! Dr. Afonin gave an invited talk entitled "Smart-responsive nucleic acid nanoparticles designed to modulate immune behavior" in the Frontiers in Nucleic Acid Chemistry session, while Justin and Morgan each presented posters on their latest work. A special congratulations to our high school researcher, Sam Eisen, for presenting a poster in the Project SEED session!

Sam Eisen - SERMACS 2019

  October 21, 2019  

Dr. Afonin attended a conference in Yerevan, Armenia, where he had the opportunity to give an interview with NEWS AM about our research!

  October 1, 2019  

Congratulations to Dr. Afonin for receiving a UNC System Inter-Institutional Planning Grant (IPG) together with UNCG, NCCU, and NCSU. Dr. Afonin is a lead PI on the project that aims to establish a strong research team that will rely on continuous collaboration among diverse institutions and disciplines to address fundamental design aspects of smart biological materials programmed to operate in living cells.

IPG Award.png

  September 20, 2019  

Dr. Afonin gave an invited talk entitled "Immunomodulation with Dynamic Nucleic Acid Nanomaterials" at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at NC State University.

  September 17, 2019  

Our paper "A cationic amphiphilic co-polymer as a carrier of nucleic acid nanoparticles (NANPs) for controlled gene silencing, immunostimulation, and biodistribution" has been published in Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine! Congratulations to Justin, Brittany, Morgan, Lauren, and Dr. Afonin! (Click here to read it!)

  August 23, 2019  

Dr. Afonin and Morgan both attended and gave talks at the XXVIII International Materials Research Congress in Cancun, Mexico, in the Nanomaterials for Drug Delivery, Imaging and Immuno-Engineering section. Dr. Afonin's invited talk was entitled, "Immunomodulation with Programmable Nucleic Acid Nanoparticles," while Morgan's talk was entitled, "Immune Stimulation by Functionalized RNA Nanorings." Thank you to the organizers for a great conference!

IMG_1678 (1).jpg

  August 15, 2019  

Congratulations to the cohort of students who completed the two-week workshop on "Molecular and Cellular Immunology: from Basics to Applications in Preclinical Development of Nanotechnology-Formulated Drugs." This workshop hosted by the Afonin Lab covered topics including an in-depth review of cellular and molecular immunology, basic principles of immunotoxicology and the associated FDA regulatory requirements, preclinical characterization of nanomaterials, and practical applications of immunotoxicology profiles. With the knowledge gained from this workshop, students will better understand and be able to overcome the challenges that many nanomedicine formulations are presented with which prevent their successful translation from bench to bedside. A special thanks to the presenter, Dr. Marina A. Dobrovolskaia (Head of Immunology Section at the Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory), for sharing her valuable time and expertise!

Immunology Workshop

  July 29-31, 2019  

Dr. Afonin and Weina attended the 2nd Conference on Biomotors, Virus Assembly, and Nanobiotechnology Applications at the Ohio State University, where Dr. Afonin served as an organizer for the session on Nucleic Acid Nanotechnology and Weina served as organizer for the student session on RNA Nanotechnology and Biomedicine!

Weina Ke - Biomotors, Virus Assembly, an

  July 26, 2019  

Congratulations to our undergraduate students from the Charlotte Research Scholars and NanoSURE programs for bringing their productive summer research to a close at the UNC Charlotte Summer Research Symposium! Sandra, Jay, Ally, and Rosalie each gave poster presentations on their research projects. (Rosalie is pictured right with Drs. Dreau, Striplin, and Afonin.)

Rosalie Truong - Summer Research Symposi

  July 13, 2019  

Thanks to everyone who came out to NanoDay at Discovery Place! Our lab enjoyed the opportunity to teach visitors about nucleic acid nanotechnology with strawberry DNA extractions and fluorescent DNA-silver nanoclusters.


  June 30, 2019  

Our paper "Editorial for the Special Issue on 'Nucleic Acid Architectures for Therapeutics, Diagnostics, Devices and Materials'" has been published in Nanomaterials! Congratulations to Justin and Dr. Afonin!

(Click here to read it!)

  June 10, 2019  

Weina presented her work in an oral presentation entitled, "Dynamic RNA and DNA nanoassemblies with controlled immunological properties," at System Biosciences' 2nd Annual Bay Area Exosome Research Festival, also known as ExoFest 2019, in San Francisco!

Great job, Weina!

Weina Ke - San Francisco (2019).jpeg

  June 1, 2019  

Congratulations to Melina Richardson for being accepted into the prestigious RISE Germany (Research Internships in Science and Engineering) program! The program is run by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and funded by the German Federal Foreign Office. Melina's extensive research experience made her a great candidate for this program, as she has been an active member of the Afonin Lab for her entire undergraduate career. We are excited for her to learn even more this summer!

  May 22, 2019  

Great job to our Honors Biology student and Charlotte Research Scholar Allison Tran for representing the Afonin Lab with her poster presentation at the Mid-Atlantic PREP/IMSD Research Symposium (MAPRS) at Wake Forest Baptist Health!

Allison Tran presenting at MAPRS 2019_ed
Allison Tran at MAPRS 2019

  May 17, 2019  

Congratulations to Justin for winning 1st Place Overall and to Morgan for winning the Molecular Engineering and Design Focus Area at the 11th Annual Graduate Student Poster Competition hosted by the Center for Biomedical Engineering and Science!

CBES 2019 Awards.png

 May 10, 2019  

Congratulations to Dana Elasmar for winning the James Hovick Memorial Award! This award commemorates a beloved chemistry professor from UNC Charlotte and is presented to a distinguished CHEM 1252 student who embodies exceptional enthusiasm and participation in curriculum beyond the classroom. Way to go, Dana!

  May 2, 2019  

Our collaborative paper "Small-Angle Scattering as a Structural Probe for Nucleic Acid Nanoparticles (NANPs) in a Dynamic Solution Environment" has been published in Nanomaterials! Congratulations to Alex and Dr. Afonin!

(Click here to read it!)

  April 28, 2019  

Thanks to everyone who came out to the NC Science & Technology Expo! Our lab had a great time hosting an experiment for kids to extract the DNA from strawberries while learning about the role of DNA in life.

2019 NC Science Expo - Strawberry DNA Ex
2019 NC Science Expo - Strawberry DNA Ex

  April 14, 2019  

Our paper "Smart-Responsive Nucleic Acid Nanoparticles (NANPs) with the Potential to Modulate Immune Behavior" has been published in Nanomaterials! Congratulations to Morgan and Dr. Afonin!

(Click here to read it!)

  April 13, 2019  

Our collaborative paper "First Step Towards Larger DNA-Based Assemblies of Fluorescent Silver Nanoclusters: Template Design and Detailed Characterization of Optical Properties" has been published in Nanomaterials! Congratulations to Oleg and Dr. Afonin!

(Click here to read it!)

  April 4, 2019  

Congratulations to Justin for being awarded a Graduate School Summer Fellowship (GSSF) from UNC Charlotte that will cover his summer research!

  April 1, 2019  

Congratulations to Allison for winning Best Oral Presentation for her talk, "Lyophilisation and stable storage of nucleic acid nanoparticles" at UNC Charlotte's 2019 Undergraduate Research Conference!

  April 1, 2019  

Congratulations to Dr. Afonin for being recognized for his outstanding contributions in reviewing for the Elsevier journals Journal of Controlled Release and Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine!

Dr. Afonin Oustanding Contribution in Re
Dr. Afonin Oustanding Contribution in Re

  March 20, 2019  

Our paper "Toll-Like Receptor-Mediated Recognition of Nucleic Acid Nanoparticles (NANPs) in Human Primary Blood Cells" was published in MoleculesCongratulations to Justin, Rosalie, and Dr. Afonin!

(Click here to read it!)

  March 15, 2019  

Congratulations to Morgan for winning second place (Liberal Arts and Sciences) for her oral presentation entitled "Broccoli Fluorets: Split Aptamers as a User-Friendly Fluorescent Toolkit for Dynamic RNA Nanotechnology" at UNC Charlotte's 19th Annual Graduate Research Symposium!

Morgan Chandler - 19th Annual GRS_edited

  March 14, 2019  

The "Nucleic Acid Nanobiology for Drug Delivery and Immunotherapy" Special Issue of Molecules is now accepting submissions! Dr. Afonin serves as the Guest Editor for this Special Issue which will include topics such as immunorecognition of nucleic acids, desirable immunomodulation using nucleic acid nanoparticles without harmful side effects, and approaches to the rational design, assembly, characterization, and delivery of nucleic acid nanoparticles.

Click here for more information!

Molecules Special Issue - Nucleic Acid N

  March 8, 2019  

Our paper "Multimodal Polysilsesquioxane Nanoparticles for Combinatorial Therapy and Gene Delivery in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer" was published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces!

Congratulations to Dr. Juneja and Dr. Afonin!

(Click here to read it!)

  January 13-18, 2019  

Our lab attended the 2019 Gordon Research Conference on RNA Nanotechnology. Dr. Afonin was the first discussion leader for the session on "RNA Nanostructures" and Justin gave an invited talk entitled "Understanding Immunogenic Properties of Nucleic Acid Nanoparticles." Justin, Weina, and Morgan each gave poster presentations throughout the week. Thank you to the organizers for a great conference!

  January 12-13, 2019  

Our lab attended the Gordon Research Seminar on RNA Nanotechnology. Justin, Weina, and Morgan each gave oral and poster presentations on recent work. Dr. Afonin was a keynote speaker with his talk "Immunomodulation in RNA Nanotechnology" and also served as a member of the career panel. Congratulations to Morgan for winning an award for her talk and for being elected as the next GRS Chair!

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