59877-Shahbazi, Reza

Reza Shahbazi, PhD, MS

Assistant Professor of Medicine

R3 C321G
Indianapolis, IN
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Dr. Shahbazi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology at Indiana University School of Medicine and joined as an active member of the Brown Center for Immunotherapy in 2021.

Dr. Reza Shahbazi earned his Ph.D. in Nanotechnology and Nanomedicine in 2017 from Hacettepe University, in Ankara, Turkey, where he worked on developing siRNA nanotherapeutics for triple negative breast cancer therapy. Then continued his research as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the field of Stem Cell Gene Editing at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle. During his Postdoc, Dr. Shahbazi worked on developing CRISPR nanoformulations for in vivo gene editing in hematopoietic stem cells and T cells as a cure for HIV, and beta thalassemia. His research in this field has received a lot of attention and broadcast from different media. Dr. Shahbazi is an active member of the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy (ASGCT) and has received a meritorious award from the society. His scientific work has resulted in multiple patents that have been licensed. 

Key Publications

Shahbazi R., Sghia-Hughes G., Reid J.L., Kubek S., Haworth K.G., Humbert O., Kiem H.P., Adair J.E., Targeted Homology-Directed Repair in Blood Stem and Progenitor Cells with CRISPR Nanoformulations. Nature Materials, (2019); 18(10): 1124-1132. PMID: 31133730

Adair J.E., Enstrom M.R., Haworth K.G., Schefter L.E., Shahbazi R., Humphrys D.R., Porter S., Tam K., Porteus M.H., Kiem H.P., DNA Barcoding in Nonhuman Primates Reveals Important Limitations in Retrovirus Integration Site Analysis. Molecular Therapy Methods & Clinical Development, (2020); 17: 796-809. PMID: 32355868

Shahbazi R., Ozpolat B., Ulubayram K. Oligonucleotide Based Theranostic Nanoparticles in Cancer Therapy. Nanomedicine, (2016); 11(10): 1287-1308. PMID: 27102380

Shahbazi R., Asik E., Kahraman N., Turk M., Ozpolat B., Ulubayram K. Modified Gold based siRNA Nanotherapeutics for Targeted Therapy of Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Nanomedicine, (2017), 12(16): 1961-1973. PMID: 28745127

Shahbazi R., Ozcicek I., Ozturk G., Ulubayram K. Functionalized Gold Nanoparticles Manifested As Potent Carriers For Nucleolar Targeting. Nanotechnology, (2017); 28(2): 025103. PMID: 27924783

Arslan M., Shahbazi R., Ulubayram K., Ozpolat B., Targeted Therapies for Pancreatic Cancer and Hurdles Ahead. Anticancer Research, (2018); 38(12): 6591-6606. PMID: 30504367

Sen G.T., Ozkemahli G., Shahbazi R., Erkekoglu P., Ulubayram K., Gumusel B.K., The Effects of Polymer Coating of Gold Nanoparticles on Oxidative Stress and DNA Damage. International Journal of Toxicology, (2020); 39(4): 328-340. PMID: 32483993

Titles & Appointments

  • Assistant Professor of Medicine
  • Assistant Professor of Microbiology & Immunology
  • Education
    2017 PhD Hacettepe University
    2012 MS Anadolu University
    2008 BS University of Tabriz
  • Research

    Dr. Shahbazi’s lab is focused on developing CRISPR nanotherapeutics as a one-time therapy, and making these therapeutics available to all patients in the world. Many different congenital and acquired diseases could be treated by precise editing of the faulty DNA carrying the wrong genetic code. Currently, gene editing technologies can be applied ex vivo where cells need to be isolated, treated, and transplanted back to the patient. However, this is a very expensive treatment and limited to only blood cells that are accessible. In his postdoctoral work, Dr. Shahbazi developed a potent CRISPR nanoformulation that can seamlessly deliver both the gene editing component and the template DNA for targeted gene insertion in hematopoietic stem cells and showed its potential as a proof of principle therapy for HIV, and beta thalassemia (Shahbazi et al., Nature Materials, 2019). Currently, along with developing disease specific CRISPR nanotherapeutics, Shahbazi lab is working on developing novel CRISPR nanoformulations to generate engineered T cells with cancer specific T cell receptors (TCR), or chimeric antigen receptor-modified T (CAR-T) cells for cancer immunotherapy. 


    Another aspect of Dr. Shahbazi’s lab is to look at the noncoding part of the DNA and search for the key markers for cancer therapy. As it is known only about 1 percent of the DNA is made up of protein-coding genes; the other 99 percent is noncoding which is responsible for producing many different forms of either long or small RNA molecules that facilitate intercellular communication. In the case of neoplasms, these RNA molecules can contribute to tumor growth, treatment resistance, and metastasis. Shahbazi lab is experienced in developing oligo based nanotherapeutics to target specific RNA molecules inside the cancer cells to control tumor growth and metastasis. Previously, Dr. Shahbazi developed a gold-based siRNA nanotherapeutic to treat an aggressive form of breast cancer called triple negative breast cancer. This specific oligo-based formulation was able to control the tumor growth and proliferation in four weeks of treatment with only once a week injection of siRNA nanotherapeutic (Shahbazi et al., Nanomedicine, 2017).

    Exosome profiling and looking at the exosomal communication in solid, and liquid tumors at the molecular level is another project that is going on in the Shahbazi lab. This project would help in identifying specific therapeutic markers for cancer therapy.

  • Awards
    Org: American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy/Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
    Desc: Career Development Award in Gene and Cell Therapy
    Scope: International
    Date: 2022-01-01
    Org: American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT)
    Desc: Meritorious Abstract Travel Award
    Scope: International
    Date: 2018-05-16
    Org: Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK)
    Desc: Graduate Scholarship Program for International Students
    Scope: International
    Date: 2015-09-01
    Org: The Republic of Turkey, Ministry of National Education
    Desc: Scholarship Award
    Scope: International
    Date: 2012-05-01

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