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Ashish Kulkarni

Assistant Professor

We strive to bridge individual strengths of diverse disciplines including nanoparticle-based drug delivery, supramolecular chemistry, glycan engineering, molecular imaging, mathematical modeling and immunology to develop tools and platform technologies for addressing fundamental and translational questions in human diseases, with a goal of developing paradigm shifting immunotherapy strategies.

Current Research

Dysregulated immune system activation is at the root of several diseases: overactivation can lead to autoimmunity and underactivation can lead to immunodeficiency, compromise resistance to infections and allow for the development of malignancy. Our group works at the interface of engineering and immunobiology to develop innovative technologies for achieving the precise level of immune activation to treat diseases and improve human health. Specific research areas include: 
1. IMMUNOENGINEERING: Most of our understanding of immune system interactions in diseases is still limited by the lack of proper tools and techniques. We develop immunoengineering platforms to understand and quantitatively study the interactions between different components of the immune system in health and disease. 
2. IMMUNOTHERAPEUTICS: To perturb the interactions between different immune cells at a spatial and temporal scale, and efficiently modulate the immune response, we engineer biologically-inspired immunotherapeutics by utilizing high throughput computational platform technology. 
3. IMMUNOTHERANOSTICS: Real-time monitoring of immunotherapy efficacy is an unmet need in clinics. We are developing immuno-theranostic (therapeutic + diagnostic) platform technology that can enable spatiotemporal delivery of an immunotherapy drug and drug function-activatable imaging agent. This technology can not only allow direct and real-time visualization of immunotherapy effect thereby studying heterogeneity in immunotherapy response but can also be utilized to probe interesting biological questions by real-time monitoring of cellular level immune responses. 

Academic Background

B. Tech. Chemical Technology, Institute of Chemical Technology, India, 2003

Ph.D. Chemistry, University of Cincinnati, 2011

Postdoctoral Fellowship, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical school, 2015

Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, 2017

Associate Bioengineer, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 2017


Kulkarni A. A.*, Chandrasekar V., Natarajan S. K., Pandey P, Nirgud J., Bhatnagar H., Ashok D., Ajay A., Sengupta S.*, “A designer self-assembled supramolecule with signal-inhibition activity amplifies macrophage immune responses against aggressive cancer.”, Nature Biomedical Engineering, Advanced Online Publication. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41551-018-0254-6. (Featured in Nature, BBC News, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Harvard News, UMass News, ScienceDaily, Medical News Today, EPM magazine, Xinhuanet, The Nation, Science News, Technology Networks etc)
Panndya H. J., Dhingra K., Prabhakar D.#, Chandrasekar V.#, Natarajan S. K.#, Vasan A. S., Kulkarni A. A.*, Shafiee H.*, “A microfluidic platform for drug screening in a 3D cancer microenvironment.” Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 2017; 94: 632-42.
Kulkarni A. A.*, Rao P., Natarajan S., Goldman A., Sabbisetti V., Khater Y., Korimerla N., Mashelkar R.*, Sengupta S.*, “Reporter nanoparticle that monitors its anticancer efficacy in real time.”, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2016; 1(15): E2104-13.
Kulkarni A. A., Natarajan S. K., Chandrasekar V., Pandey P, Sengupta S., “Combining immune checkpoint inhibitors and kinase-inhibiting supramolecular therapeutics for enhanced anti-cancer efficacy”, ACS Nano, 2016; 10(10): 9227-42. (Highlighted in 5 news outlets including Science Daily, Eureka Alert, Nanotechnology Now, Health Medicine Newtork, Phys.org and MedIndia.)
Kulkarni A. A., Pandey P, Rao P. S., Wyant G., Mahmoud A., Goldman A., Kotamraju V. R., Ruoslahti E., Dinulescu D., Roy S., Sengupta S., “Algorithm for designing nanoscale supramolecular therapeutics with increased anticancer efficacy”, ACS Nano, 2016; 10(9): 8154-68. (Highlighted in ACS Nano as a perspective and over 6 news outlets including Eureka Alert, NanoWerk, Health Medicine Newtork, Phys.org and MedIndia.)
Kulkarni A. A. #, Goldman A. #, Kohandel M., Pandey PR., Natarajan S., Ravi S., Sabbisetti S., Sengupta S, “Rationally designed 2-in-1 nanoparticles can overcome adaptive resistance in cancer”, ACS Nano, 2016; 10(6): 5823-5824. (Highlighted in over 20 news outlets including NanoWerk, Science Daily, Health Medicine Newtork, News Medical, eCancer and Bioscience Technology.)
Kulkarni A. A.*, Vijaykumar V. E., Natarajan S. K., Sengupta S., Sabbisetti V. S.*, “Sustained inhibition of cMET-VEGFR2 signaling using liposome-mediated delivery increases efficacy and reduces toxicity in kidney cancer”, Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine, 2016; 12(7): 1853-1861.
Kulkarni A. A.*, Roy B., Rao P. S., Wyant G. A., Mahmoud A., Sengupta S.*, “Supramolecular nanoparticles that target phosphoinositide-3-kinase overcome insulin resistance and exert pronounced antitumor efficacy” Cancer Research, 2013; 73(23): 6987-97.
Contact Info

Department of Chemical Engineering
N565 Life Sciences Laboratories
240 Thatcher Rd
Amherst, MA 01003-9292