Sanjib Saha

Sanjib Saha, Ph.D. student, Pharmaceutics and Drug Design

Designs therapies for eye diseases

Hometown: Khulna, Bangladesh
Faculty mentor/advisor: Dr. Aliasger K. Salem, Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences
What is your degree program and expected graduate date? Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics and Drug Design, May 2023.
Please describe your research: My research is designed to develop and characterize biomaterials-based novel drug and gene delivery systems to solve therapeutic challenges for the treatment of multiple eye diseases including Fuchs’ dystrophy, Usher syndrome, and retinoblastoma. I have developed solubilized ubiquinol which has been proven to be highly effective in preserving corneal function and treating Fuchs’s dystrophy.
In simple terms, why does this research matter? My research matters because eye diseases have a significant effect on vision and overall quality of life. We do not have any available therapeutics for many eye diseases including Fuchs’ dystrophy and Usher syndrome. Fuchs’ dystrophy affects approximately 4% of people over the age of 40 in the USA. Additionally, the delivery of drugs and genes to the targeted sites of action in both anterior and posterior segments of the eye is very challenging because of the various ocular barriers. Novel biomaterials-based technology has been found to be effective at overcoming the challenges of conventional dosage forms in terms of increasing bioavailability, efficacy, and mitigating unwanted effects.
How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I began conducting research during my first semester as a graduate student at the University of Iowa which started with lab rotation in The Salem Laboratory of Advanced Drug and Gene Delivery.
How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? During my graduate studies, the unique research ecosystem of Dr. Salem’s lab of collaborative research effort between physicians and pharmaceutical scientists has been key to my development as a graduate student. This ecosystem has enabled me to know the patients’ needs and therapeutic challenges physicians face to treat their patients and ultimately utilizing my drug development knowledge to solve these unmet challenges. Additionally, my collaborative research has enabled me to develop my communication skills with fellow researchers.
What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? After graduation, I would like to work as a pharmaceutical product development scientist in the industry to develop novel therapeutics.
Does your research have connections to or implications for COVID-19? Please explain.   I develop biomaterials-based gene delivery platform. The same platform is also being widely used to develop novel vaccine candidate for COVID-19 by different academic and commercial organizations.

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