Mary Gates Endowment For Students

Tianyi (Iris) Zhang

Mary Gates Research Scholar, 2022-2023

Research Project: A Fluorinated and Heparinized Nanoplatform for Highly Efficient mRNA Delivery to Cancer Cells

Research Project Description: I am currently engaged in the development of an innovative nanoplatform (PFHA-PEI-mRNA-LHP) that aims to efficiently deliver mRNA into cancer cells, thereby enabling therapeutic effects. Additionally, my research involves enhancing both the formula and the coupling method utilized in constructing this nanoplatform. The primary objective of my project is to substantially enhance the effectiveness, efficiency, and safety of mRNA-based gene therapy, revolutionizing the field of genetic medicine.



What advice do you have for future Mary Gates Research applicants?

Engaging in research is a thrilling endeavor that offers unexpected opportunities for knowledge acquisition. Find a topic that captures your interest or holds personal significance for you. Seeking assistance from professors or graduate students in the respective field is always beneficial. Regardless of whether you receive the scholarship or not, you will find yourself with a deeper understanding of your research project and a memorable experience of committing to a goal.

What have you learned throughout your research project? 

Working on this project has not only expanded my knowledge and proficiency in the field, but it has also instilled in me a relentless curiosity and the drive to pursue independent learning. Throughout this journey, I have developed invaluable skills such as goal setting, organization, prioritization, effective communication, and even mentorship of new undergraduates. Moreover, this period of research has allowed me to master essential techniques including cell culture, polymer conjugation, and bacterial genome extraction.
Knowing that my research work directly impacts and brings hope to people provides me with immense comfort. I always hold the belief that one should be kind and extend a helping hand to those in need, and this belief has been reinforced through my experiences in this project.