Our Mission

We are dedicated to developing novel bioengineered tools to address unmet biomedical needs and biological questions, and to quickly translate them to the clinic to help patients. Through working at the interface of pharmaceutical sciences, biomedical engineering, biology, and medicine, our interdisciplinary and collaborative team aims to develop next generation stem cell-based and immuno-therapeutics and miniaturized diagnostics (Research). We are also fully committed to the professional development of the personnel in the laboratory and do everything we can to ensure successful career paths (Education).  If you are interested in joining the team, collaborating, donating, or are interested in what our research expertise can do for you, please contact Dr. Weian Zhao (weianzhao.uci@gmail.com).

Immunotherapeutics Discovery

Immunotherapeutics including antibodies and T cells hold great promises to be next-generation treatment for cancer. We have been developing single-cell technologies including droplet-based systems to facilitate rapid and cost-effective discovery of immunotherapeutics.



Cells constantly interact with their surrounding niche. Physical and mechanical properties of cellular microenvironments regulate essential cell functions. We have demonstrated that tissue biophysical cues can be harnessed as a novel target to develop next generation cancer treatment.


Engineering Cell Therapy

Cell therapies including stem cells and immune cells have offered great hope for treating many tragic diseases. We have mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and immune cells in various stages of clinical development to treat autoimmune diseases, neurological disorders and cancer.


In Vitro Diagnostics

We have been developing rapid diagnostics to diagnose diseases at early-stages, when intervention is most effective. We developed the Integrated Comprehensive Droplet Digital Detection (IC 3D) technology for rapid detection of low-abundance biomarkers from complex biological samples.



Oct. 2019 Isolation and Characterization of Microvesicles from Mesenchymal Stem Cells M. Rezaa Mohammadi, Milad Riazifar, Egest J. Pone, Ashish Yeri, Kendall Van Keuren-Jensen, Cecilia Lässer, Jan Lotvall, Weian Zhao. Methods

July 2019 – mRNA rescues neonatal acidemia while mice report no aftereffects. Jan Zimak, Yonglei Shang, Weian Zhao. EBioMedicine 

July 2019 – Combinatorial targeting of cancer bone metastasis using mRNA engineered stem cells. Aude I. Segaliny, Jason L. Cheng, Henry P. Farhoodi, Michael Toledano, Chih Chun Yu, Beatrice Tierrai, Leanne Hildebrand, Linan Liu, Michael J. Liao, Jaedu Chog, Dongxu Liuh, Lizhi Sunh, Gultekin Gulseng, Min-Ying Sug, Robert L. Sahi, Weian Zhao. EBioMedicine 

May 2019- Stem Cell-Derived Exosomes as Nanotherapeutics for Autoimmune and Neurodegenerative Disorders. Milad Riazifar, M. Reza Mohammadi, Egest J. Pone, Ashish Yeri, Cecilia Lässer, Aude I. Segaliny, Laura L. McIntyre, Ganesh Vilas Shelke, Elizabeth Hutchins, Ashley Hamamoto, Erika N. Calle, Rossella Crescitelli, Wenbin Liao, Victor Pham, Yanan Yin, Jayapriya Jayaraman, Jonathan R. T. Lakey, Craig M. Walsh, Kendall Van Keuren-Jensen, Jan Lotvall, and Weian Zhao. ACS Nano


Latest News

Aug. 29, 2019:
Our collaborator, Amberstone Biosciences, received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding grant for their research and commercialization of a new immunotherapy technique that targets tumor cells. Congrats!

Aug. 24, 2019: Congratulations go out to two of our hard working graduate students, Jayapriya Jayaraman who has received a UC Drug Discovery Consortium workshop fellowship and Josh Gu who was selected for the SOM PhD Student Fellowship App Incentive Award. These awards are well deserved!

May 16, 2019: Congratulations to Ruchi Desai for winning the Dean’s Summer Research Scholarship.

Jan 10, 2019:  Congratulations to Morgan Kopecky, Jayapriya Jayaraman and Jan Zimak to receive the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2019 Scholar, Otto W. Shaler Scholarship, and NIH-funded ICTS TL1 Training Award, respectively.

Dec 19, 2018: Congratulations to Dr. Aude Segaliny for winning the AAI Young Investigator Award for poster titled Functional immunotherapeutic screening using single-cell droplet microfluidics

Dec 19, 2018: Our talented high school intern Morgan Kopecky has been accepted to Stanford University for Early Action! Congratulations!!

Nov 6, 2018: Zhao lab receives UCI Applied Innovation Proof of Product Grant, in collaboration with Dr. Enrico Gratton.

More news…