Lab of ImmunoEngineering and ImmunoTheranostics VCU School of Pharmacy

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Our research mission prosper through dynamic, innovative and cross disciplinary research programs.

Our Mission


We are passionate about drug delivery, or specifically engineering molecular or nano- medicines to deliver immunomodulatory molecules to engineer the immune system for the treatment and prevention of immune-related diseases, including cancer.

Our Research


At A Glance


Our research interests lie at the interface of immune-oncology, nucleic acid therapeutics, nanomedicine, pharmacoengineering and pharmacoimaging. My current focus is to develop “off-the-shelf” nucleic acid nanomedicines to modulate the immune system to treat cancer, and to interrogate the immuno-nano interfaces. My long-term goal is to implement immunotherapy to a broad population of patients. These interests often involve the following areas:

  • ImmunoEngineering
  • ImmunoTheranostics
  • Nanovaccine
  • Nanomedicine
  • Nucleic acid therapeutics and probes (immunomodulatory DNA/RNA, mRNA, siRNA/shRNA, plasmid, Aptamer, etc)
  • Cancer and immune disorders

Our Team


Guizhi (Julian) Zhu

Principal Investigator | PhD, University of Flordia, USA


Dr. Zhu received his BS (2008) in Biotechnology from Nankai University, China, and completed Ph.D. degree (2013) in Medical Sciences at the University of Florida College of Medicine. Dr. Zhu moved to NIBIB/NIH as a postdoc with Dr. Shawn Chen, where Dr. Zhu established the research areas of cancer immunotheranostics in the lab.

At VCU, our research interests lie at the interface of immune-oncology, nucleic acid therapeutics, nanomedicine, pharmacoengineering and pharmacoimaging. My long-term goal is to implement immunotherapy to a broad population of patients.

Ting Su

Post Doctoral Fellow | PhD, Sichuan University, China


Dr. Ting Su graduated from Tianjin University, China, in 2012 with a B.S. in Materials Chemistry. Ting attained her M.S. and Ph.D. from Sichuan University in Dr. Bin He's lab, where she focused on the development of biodegradable polymers and controlled drug delivery system in cancer therapy.

She joined Julian’s lab to continue her postdoctoral training since late 2018, where she focuses on the development of immunotherapeutic nanoparticles based on polymer materials.

Yu Zhang

Post Doctoral Fellow | PhD, Lanzhou University, China


Dr. Zhang graduated from Hunan University, China, in 2011 with a B.A. in Chemistry. He attained his PhD from the Lanzhou University in 2016, where he focused on the development of rare-earth nanomaterial for biological applications in the lab of Dr. Yu Tang. Dr. Zhang then pursued the first stage of his postdoctoral training at the Chinese Academy of Sciences under the guidance of Dr. Xiaohong Fang and Dr. Weihong Tan.

Yu’s project at the Chinese Academy of Sciences focused on the DNA-functionalized nanoprobes for biomarker biosensing and bioimaging in vivo. Yu joined Dr. Zhu’s Lab in January 2019 to develop DNA-functionalized nanovaccines for cancer immunotherapy.

Tingting Shen

Post Doctoral Fellow | PhD, Lanzhou University, China


Dr. Shen graduated from Lanzhou University in 2011 with a B.A. in Chemistry. She attained her PhD from the Lanzhou University in 2016, where she focused on the development of rare-earth doped nanomaterial for multi-color adjustment in the lab of Dr. Yu Tang. During her postdoctoral training at Hunan University, Dr. Shen's research was focused on DNA-functionalized inorganic nanomaterials for photodynamic therapy.

She joined the Dr. Guizhi Zhu’s Lab in January 2019 study DNA-RNA functionalized nanovaccines for cancer immunotherapy.

Wenjie Chen

Post Doctoral Fellow | PhD, Macquarie University, Australia


Dr. Chen has a BSc degree from China Pharmaceutical University, China, before he started research on the non-viral gene delivery systems in Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. In Spring 2015 he moved to Macquarie University to pursue his doctoral career, supported by iMQRES scholarship. Dr. Chen finalized his PhD in Fall 2018 in biomaterial, in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics, where he focused on the development of photo-induced nanomaterial used for gene/drug delivery in the lab of Prof. Ewa Goldys.

After a short postdoctoral training at the University of Minnesota, then he joined Dr. Zhu Lab in spring 2019. His current research interests include nucleic acid delivery, nanomedicine based cancer immunotherapy and gene therapy.

Lujun Hu

Visiting Scholar | PhD, Jiangnan University, China


Dr. Lujun Hu received his B.S. degree from Southwest University, China, and M.S. degree from the Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sichuan, China. He graduated from Jiangnan University, China, with a PhD degree in Dr. Wei Chen’s lab, where he focused on the detection of bifidobacteria on the basis of aptamers and high-throughput sequencing.

He joined Dr. Zhu’s lab in April 2019 to develop diagnostics and prognostics in cancer immunotherapy.

Weinan Wang

Visiting Scholar | PhD, Peking University, China


Dr. Weinan Wang graduated from Changchun University of Chinese Medicine (CCUCM) in 2007 with a B.S. in Natural Product Chemistry. He attained his PhD from Peking University in 2013, where he focused on development of multiple analysis strategies to monitor the chemical variations of different natural compounds in dark tea during processing under the supervision of Prof. Pengfei Tu. He then became a faculty of CCUCM after graduation and joined Prof. Zhidong Qiu’s group to proceed researches on natural product discovery with different analytical techniques, including LC-MS (Orbit-Trap, Q-TOF, QQQ), NMR, IR, SERS etc.

He joined Dr. Zhu’s lab in May 2019 to develop analysis strategies for the discovery of molecular probe to facilitate the individualized mouse "patient" stratification and therapy response monitoring during cancer immunotherapy.

Shurong Zhou

Graduate Student | MS, Peking University, China


Shurong Zhou graduated from Peking University in 2019, where she obtained her B.S. and M.S.
in pharmaceutical sciences. During her research training for master program, she worked on
constructing a novel delivery system for oral protein delivery.

She joined Dr. Zhu’s lab for further
study on immunotheranostics and drug delivery for cancer immunotherapy.

Kush Shah

Undergraduate Student | VCU Honors College, USA


Kush is a junior in the Honors College at VCU as a double major in Biology and Psychology with a minor in Chemistry. Kush joined the lab to learn more about the field of nano therapy based cancer immunotherapy.

Janét Cole

Undergraduate Student | VCU, USA


Janét is a senior at VCU with a major in Biology. Janét joined the lab to learn more on cancer and explore nanomedicine based cancer immunotherapy.

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