Laboratory for Plant Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Research

plantBiotechAndPharmThe Laboratory for Plant Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Research conducts researches in both basic plant biology and biological engineering.

On the basic science side, Researchers focus on two important topics of basic plant biology: gene expression and protein trafficking. They are exploring how gene expression is controlled at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels as well as to identify new genetic elements that control gene expression. Another area of interest is to understand the regulation and mechanism of protein posttranslational modification and assembly.

Researchers are also focusing on using genetic engineering approach to develop novel protein pharmaceuticals in plants. Successful researches include multiple NIH-funded projects to optimize the expression and assembly of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), vaccines and to design novel fusion proteins to enhance their targeting and efficacy against West Nile virus, Ebola virus, Hepatitis C, HIV, and other infectious diseases, cancer, or potential terrorism agents. Translational research is another important focus of the laboratory to bridge bench discovery to clinical products. Innovative protein purification, scale-up, process development, bioprocessing and analytical procedures are being developed to meet FDA’s current Good Manufacture Practice (cGMP) regulations. This effort has facilitated the testing of plant-made vaccines in human clinical trials.

The Laboratory for Plant Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Research also provides undergraduate students with real-world research opportunities. Undergraduate researchers conduct research side by side with faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students. Past and current undergraduate researchers have successfully completed their research projects and published their findings in high-impact peer reviewed journals.

Major Projects

  • Plant Made Microbicides and Mucosal Vaccines for STIs - NIH funded (7.4 million)
  • Development of a Vaccine for Ebola Virus - NIH funded (3.2 million)
  • Plant-derived Vaccines Against Hepatitis C - NIH funded (3.7 Million)
  • Plant-derived MAb Therapeutics for West Nile Virus -NIH funded (1.5 million)

Director

Associated Faculty

Student Researchers

  • Graduate students:
    Christopher Brock (PHD)
    Jonathan Hurtado (MS)
    Kahlin Leuzinger (MS)
    Renyan “Sofia” Sun (MS)
  • Undergraduate students:
    Jake Stahnke
    Jennifer Perez
    Matthew Dent (SOLUR Researcher)
    Haleigh Martinez (Barrett Honors College)
    Alyssa McNulty
    Jonathan Beeson
    Kalina Harrell
    James Hazel (Barrett Honors College)
    Jason Sckrabulis

Associated Programs

In the News

Intellectual Property

“MAb Therapeutics against West Nile Virus with Improved CNS Penetration” No. 61/494,612.
“Production of a Monoclonal Antibody Therapeutic against West Nile Virus in Plants” . No. 61/293,828.
“A DNA Replication System for High-level Rapid Production of Vaccines and Monoclonal Antibody Therapeutics in Plants” No. 61/092,318.

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