Leadership

Leaf Huang Ph.D.

Leaf Huang (Ph.D.) was previously at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (1976–1991) and at the University of Pittsburgh (1991–2005) as a faculty member. In July 2005, he was appointed as a Fred Eshelman Distinguished Professor at UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and chair of the Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics, a position he held until 2012.

Huang has published over 400 peer-reviewed articles, close to 200 invited reviews and book chapters. Professor Huang was the first (1990) to describe the prolonged circulation time of the PEGylated liposomes, laying the foundation for long-circulating drug delivery system. Later he designed and manufactured the cationic liposomes used in the first human clinical trial for non-viral gene therapy in 1992. In his research career of three decades, his focus has been drug delivery using self-assembled nanoparticles. The payloads of his studies include plasmid DNA, siRNA, mRNA, miRNA, polypeptide and low molecular weight drugs. The use of delivery system for administration effectively increases the efficacy and reduces side effects of the drugs. During Professor Huang’s productive research career, he has founded some spin-off biotech companies as an attempt to translate the bench discovery into clinical practices.

Rihe Liu Ph.D.

Rihe Liu (Ph.D.) received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California at San Diego in 1996. Later he carried out postdoctoral work with Professor Jack W. Szostak at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, trained in in vitro selection of functional biomolecules. During his postdoc research, he co-invented the mRNA-display technology that has been used by Bristol-Myers Squibb for the systematic development anti-cancer biopharmaceuticals.? Professor Liu joined the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2001. He pioneered the application of mRNA-display technology for in vitro selection of proteins with desired functions from various natural proteome libraries and synthetic protein domain/polypeptide libraries. This technology laid the groundwork for the selection of novel targeting ligand and ‘TRAP’ protein as an antagonist for therapeutic targets.