The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Richard Vachet

Professor and Department Head

My research group is developing new measurement tools to help optimize drug delivery and to assess the effectiveness of the delivered therapeutics. In one area of work, we focus on the development of new measurement tools to track and image nanoparticle-based drug delivery vehicles in vivo. These methods use novel mass spectrometric approaches that are capable of simultaneously monitoring the delivery vehicle and the drug of interest in cells and tissues. In other work, we are developing and applying new measurement approaches to sensitively and selectively detect biomarkers in complex biological fluids. These biomarker detection studies seek to develop a platform by which we can rapidly assess the effectiveness of a therapeutic by measuring the underlying biomolecules that are indicators of a given disease state.

Current Research
We have two primary areas of investigation:

  1. new mass spectrometry-based methods to image nanoparticles in vivo and
  2. nanomaterials as novel extraction/concentration/detection methods along with mass spectrometry for protein and breast cancer biomarker analyses in complex biological samples.
  3. new methods to study the higher order structure of protein therapeutics

Learn more at

Academic Background

  • BS College of William and Mary
  • PhD University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Postdoctoral Training: NRC postdoctoral fellowship - Naval Research Laboratory
Zhao, B.; Serrano, M. A. C.; Wang, M.; Liu, T.; Gordon, M. R.; Thayumanavan, S.; Vachet, R. W. “Improved mass spectrometric detection of acidic peptides by variations in the functional group pKa values of reverse micelle extraction agents,” Analyst, 2018, 143, 1434-1443.
Wang, M.; Zhao, B.; Gao, J.; He, H.; Castellanos, L. J.; Thayumanavan, S.; Vachet, R. W. “Altering the Peptide Binding Selectivity of Polymeric Reverse Micelle Assemblies via Metal Ion Loading” Langmuir, 2017, 33, 14004-14010.
Elci, S. G.; Tong, G. Y.; Yan, B.; Kim, S. T.; Kim, C. S.; Jiang, Y.; Saha, K.; Moyano, D.; Marsico, A.; Rotello, V. M.; Vachet, R. W. “Dual mode mass spectrometric imaging for determination of in vivo stability of nanoparticle monolayers” ACS Nano 2017, 11, 7424–7430.
Borotto, N. B.; Zhou, Y.; Hollingsworth, S. R.; Hale, J. E.; Graban, E. M.; Vaughan, R. C.; Vachet, R. W. “Investigating Therapeutic Protein Structure with Diethylpyrocarbonate Labeling and Mass Spectrometry” Anal. Chem. 2015, 87, 10627-10634.
Elci, S. G.; Jiang, Y.; Yan, B.; Kim, S. T.; Saha, K.; Moyano, D. F.; Tonga, G. Y.; Jackson, L. C.; Rotello, V. M.; Vachet, R. W. “Surface charge controls the sub-organ biodistributions of gold nanoparticles” ACS Nano 2016, 10, 5536-5542.
Marsico, A. L. M.; Elci, G. S.; Moyano, D. F.; Tonga, G. Y.; Duncan, B.; Landis, R. F.; Rotello, V. M.; Vachet, R. W. “Enhanced Laser Desorption/Ionization Mass Spectrometric Detection of Gold Nanoparticles in Biological Samples Using the Synergy Between Added Matrix and the Gold Core” Anal. Chem. 2015, 87, 12145–12150.
Contact Info

Department of Chemistry
N363 Life Sciences Laboratory
240 Thatcher Way
Amherst, Ma 01003

(413) 545-2733