Faculty: Biography

Shanta Dhar, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Chemistry
Address: Chemistry Building
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602
Office: Room 679
Phone: (706) 542-1012
Email: shanta@uga.edu
Biosketch
Ph.D. Bio-inorganic ChemistryIndian Institute of ScienceBangalore, India2005
M.Sc. ChemistryUniversity of North BengalDarjeeling, India1998
B.Sc (Hons.) ChemistryUniversity of North BengalDarjeeling, India1996
Post-doctoral Experience
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Bio-organic Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University, 2006-2007
Postdoctoral Fellow in Molecular Oncology, Department of Bio-inorganic Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2007-2010
Honors and Awards
2011 Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) Prostate Cancer Idea Development Award (DoD-PCRP)
2011 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, Oak Ridge Associated Universities
Research Interests
The Dhar lab research interests lie at the interface of chemistry and biology with particular emphasis on nanocarrier mediated delivery of metal-based drugs for their potential applications in various diseases and in the development of nano-vaccines. They are focused on interdisciplinary approaches for drug development. The lab strategically place research at the interface of biological chemistry and nanotechnology. Despite the progress made in using nanocarriers in cancer therapy to increase tissue accumulation of drug molecules to improve efficacy and to reduce unwanted side effects, successful sub-cellular targeting of drugs specifically to cell organelles has only recently gained broader recognition. Many drugs have target sites inside the cell, at specific cell organelles or even inside organelles such as mitochondria. Dr. Dhar's research is directed to develop organelle targeting polymeric nanoparticle-metal complex constructs, and to study nanoparticle assisted targeted delivery and the anticancer properties. The lab develops technologies that use a combination of conventional methods of cancer treatment and immunotherapy in a single nanoparticle platform to provide powerful low-cost tool to treat cancer in humans.

The lab works in the areas of diagnosis and combination therapies for cancer and cardiovascular disease with particular emphasis on nanomedicine for solid tumors that are highly metastatic. The research program includes pre-clinical and clinical testing of different nanomedicine platforms. As a research team with a strong background in chemistry, they aim to provide the scientific community with valuable knowledge that can guide into the discovery of potential drug candidates and vaccines.

The lab strategically places research at the interface of biological chemistry and nanotechnology. Currently they are working in the following research areas:

Project 1: Despite the progress made in using nanocarriers in cancer therapy to increase tissue accumulation of drugs to improve efficacy and to reduce side effects, successful sub-cellular targeting specifically to organelles has only recently gained broader recognition. Until now, little effort has been focused to deliver organelle-targeting drugs selectively to a sub-cellular compartment of the cancer cells. Dr. Dhar's research is directed to develop organelle targeted engineered nanoparticles that will offer several advantages over the existing drugs

Project 2: The lab develops technologies that use a combination of conventional cancer treatment and immunotherapy in a single nanoparticle platform to provide powerful tool to treat metastatic cancer.

Project 3: They are working to test a combined approach for diagnosing and treating pancreatic cancer with a specially engineered nanoparticles.

Project 4: The research program is also focused to develop nano-sensors for apoptosis detection in atherosclerotic plaques. The overall objective of the project is to develop and apply a targeted long-circulating magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) active nanoparticle platform that selectively targets macrophages inside atherosclerotic plaques and can sense apoptosis.
Representative Publications
Marrache, S.; Choi, J. H.; Tundup, S.; Zaver, D.; Harn, D. A. and Dhar, S. “Immune stimulating photoactive hybrid nanoparticles for metastatic breast cancer” Integr. Biol., 2012, DOI:10.1039/C2IB20125A.

Roy, M.; Dhar, S.; Maitya, B. and Chakravarty, A. R. "Dicopper(II) complexes showing DNA hydrolase activity and monomeric adduct formation with bis(4-nitrophenyl)phosphate" Inorg. Chim. Acta. 2011, 375, 173-180.

Dhar, S.; Kolishetti, N.; Lippard, S. J. & Farokhzad, O. C. "Targeted delivery of a cisplatin prodrug for safer and more effective prostate cancer therapy in vivo
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 2011, 108, 1850-1855.

Kolishetti, N.; Dhar, S.; Valencia, P.; Lin, L.; Karnik, R.; Lippard, S. J.; Langer, R. & Farokhzad, O. C. “Engineering of self-assembled nanoparticle platform for precisely-controlled combination drug therapy” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 2010, 107, 17939-17944.

Lee, T.; Zhang, X.; Dhar, S.; M. S.; Lippard, S. J.; Jasanoff, A. P. “In vivo imaging with a cellpermeable porphyrin-based MRI contrast agent”
Chem. Biol. 2010, 17, 665-673.
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