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After Hamid Ghandehari graduated from the University of Utah with his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in pharmacy and pharmaceutics & pharmaceutical chemistry, he spent about 11 years working for other universities before he made his way back to the U.

“The scientific environment, the people and our physical environment are what brought me back,” Ghandehari said. “Utah is extremely well known in the area of drug delivery science. That basically grew in part out of the artificial heart program, which was back in the 80s. There was a lot of emphasis at that time on biomaterials which were used by pioneering faculty at the U for controlled drug delivery.”

It didn’t hurt that Ghandehari also loved Utah’s mountains where he could ski and hike.

Upon returning to the U as a USTAR professor in 2007, he continued his research in the Departments of Molecular Pharmaceutics and Biomedical Engineering. Ghandehari has since established himself as one of the great U researchers. His lab focuses on drug delivery to specific sites in the body in order to minimize side effects while maximizing the benefits of the drug. The scope of his research includes not only studying different types of biomaterials to serve as carriers for the drugs, but also making the materials and then testing them both on cells and later animal models.

“You always want your technologies to be developed so they can help with human diseases and treatments,” Ghandehari said. “As a drug delivery scientist, I think the most natural pathway is to try to translate your discoveries, so ultimately, patients are treated more effectively with less side effects.”

Ghandehari has pursued many paths in order to achieve the greatest impact possible for his research. With the help of the Technology Licensing Office, he has filed for multiple patent applications, prepared technologies for marketing and even started a company. Most recently, Ghandehari received an Ascender Grant to continue developing a technology that would help treat cancer.

Learn more about the Ascender Grant

“There are several ways to treat tumors: chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, but each of them has its own complications,” Ghandehari said. “Another method is to try and cut off the blood supply to those tumors. People have come up with embolic agents that cut off the blood supply to the tumor; however, the types of embolics that have been developed are either small beads that don't penetrate through the tumor micro vessels or they are oil-like materials that don't stay around for a long period of time.”

Ghandehari and his team have developed a polymer that is liquid at room temperature and a certain amount of time after injection gels around the tumor to cut off the blood supply. The polymer can then be incorporated with chemotherapeutics to deliver the drugs effectively.

With the Ascender Grant funding, they are hoping to develop this technology into a clear, marketable product and prepare for regulatory approval as well. The end goal is to convince potential licensees that this is a technology they should focus on and invest in.

The assistance of the Technology Licensing Office has helped bridge the gap between Ghandehari’s expertise and the knowledge needed to successfully develop a market-ready product or start a company. “Scientists have a good handle over the technical issues,” he said. “What scientists typically don't have a good handle on is how to start and continue a successful company.”

He pointed out that a company needs a strong leadership team with a CEO who can network and sell the technology along with others who can implement the technology in an environment that’s different from the academic lab.


We support you and your innovation.

Regardless of what you are looking for, or what stage you are in the innovation journey, the Technology Licensing Office is your go-to source to connect you with the U’s innovation ecosystem.

Call 801.581.7792 or send us a message