Sant Lab

Developing Biomimetic Microenvironments for Regenerative Therapies

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, PA


  Principal Investigators

Shilpa Sant, Ph.D

Shilpa Sant, PhD is an Assistant Professor at University of Pittsburgh in the Departments of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Bioengineering. Before joining Pitt, she was a Ruth Kirschstein NRSA Interdisciplinary training fellow at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, and the Centre for Bioengineering at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA.

Dr. Sant received a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Technology from University of Montreal, Canada, a Masters degree in Pharmacology and a Bachelors degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Mumbai. She has extensive research experience in diverse fields including materials science, polymer chemistry, drug delivery, tissue engineering, natural and synthetic biomaterials and microfabrication. Her postdoctoral research involved fabrication of functionalized bioinspired materials and scaffolds applicable for the heart valve and tooth germ tissue engineering. She has contributed over 20 articles in peer-reviewed journals, 2 book chapters and currently editing a book entitled "Biomedical Nanomaterials in Tissue Engineering: Fabrication and Applications". Dr. Sant's exemplary achievements in research have been recognized by prestigious fellowships: Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NIH, USA), Post-doctoral Fellowship (Le Fonds Quebecoise de Recherche sur Nature et Technologies (FQRNT), Canada), Post-graduate Scholarship B (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Canada). She has also received several awards including "2013 CMBE-BMES Rising Star-Fellow Award", "2010 Society For Biomaterials-STAR Award" to name a few.

Dr. Sant's research goals are to develop an independent and multidisciplinary research program at the interface of biomaterials, controlled drug delivery, and tissue engineering. Specifically, she aims to develop tissue-engineered tumor models that recreate the three-dimensional structure, cell-cell/cell-ECM interaction, stromal environments, and signalling cues present in vivo. Dr. Sant is a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society, Controlled Release Society, American Association of Cancer Research, the Indian Pharmaceutical Association, and Sigma Xi.


Past Positions:

2011-2012        Interdisciplinary Training Fellow, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering

                          Harvard University/ Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston

2008-2011        Research Fellow, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston

2008-2008        Clinical Research Assistant, Labopharm Inc., Canada 

2000-2002        Senior Research Fellow, SNDT Women's University, Mumbai, India

1999-2000        Lecturer in Pharmacology, University of Mumbai, India

1997-1999        Junior Research Fellow, Bombay College of Pharmacy, Mumbai, India


Vinayak Sant, Ph.D

Vinayak Sant, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of Pittsburgh. Vinayak completed his BS in Pharmaceutical sciences and MS in Pharmaceutics from University of Pune, India. He then pursued Ph. D at University of Mumbai, India in Pharmaceutics with specialization in novel drug delivery systems and moved to University of Montreal, Canada for postdoctoral research in the area of nanotechnology for solubility and bioavailability enhancement. Vinayak joined University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy after 9 years of industrial experience in companies such as Pharmascience Inc., Montreal, Canada, Labopharm Inc, Laval, Canada and Patheon Inc., Mississauga, Canada. His expertise include novel oral and parenteral dosage form development, nano/microparticulate delivery systems for solubility enhancement and cGMP manufacturing for IND / NDA filings. Vinayak has filed 5 patents and contributed in the development of platform technologies for modified/sustained drug delivery generating IP rights that have been successfully commercialized. At School of Pharmacy, Vinayak will be responsible for Non-thesis based Masters program in Pharmaceutical Sciences. He will also leverage his industrial and research experience to support other faculty members in their research programs.

Past Positions

2011-2012        Senior Technical Project Leader, Pharmaceutical Development Services, Patheon Inc.,

                          Mississauga, Canada

2006-2011        Manager, Formulation Development,  Labopharm Inc., Laval, Canada 

2004-2006        Scientist, Formulation Development, Pharmascience Inc., Montreal, Canada

2001-2004        Postdoctoral Fellow, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Montreal, Canada

2001-2001        Formulation Development Executive, Bharat Serums and Vaccines Ltd., India


Graduate Students

Shilpaa Mukundan

PhD student, Pharmaceutical Sciences

Shilpaa Mukundan completed her B.Tech in Bioprocess Engineering from SRM University, Chennai, India. She has prior research experience at MIT-Harvard Health Sciences and Technology and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School. She worked as a research Trainee in the lab of Dr. Ali Khademhosseini before joining Sant Lab in November 2012 as Visiting Research Scholar. currently, she is pursuing PhD in the Dept. Of Pharm. Sci. since Fall 2013. Her braod research interests are biomaterials/scaffold design for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

Yingfei Xue

PhD student, Pharmaceutical Sciences

Yingfei completed his BS in Pharmaceutical Engineering in 2012 at East China University of Sci & Tech, Shanghai, China. He then completed MS in pharmaceutical Sciences at University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy in October 2013. Before joining the Sant lab, he was a medicinal chemist working at synthetic methodology and new drug discovery lab. Currently, he is pursuing PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences. His research focuses on the synthesis of novel elastomers for tissue engineering and drug/gene delivery applications.


Akhil Patel

Thesis MS Student, Pharmaceutical Sciences

Akhil completed Bachelor of Pharmacy (2008-2012) from Gujarat Technological University, India. Currently he is pursuing MS in Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of Pittsburgh. He joined Sant lab in August 2013. His research interests include development of synthetic scaffolds mimicking natural extracellular matrix and study of cell-matrix interactions.



Yuzhe Chen

Thesis MS Student, Pharmaceutical Sciences

Yuzhe completed BS and MS from College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Zhejiang University. He is thesis-based MS student in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. His research interests include non-viral gene delivery and scaffold-based drug/gene delivery for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.


Visiting Research Scholars

Jr-Jiun Liou (Jean)

Visiting Research Scholar

Jean finished MS in Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University in 2013, with a bachelor's in Biochemistry at National Taiwan University. During the past year, she has been working on a project to study the roles of interstitial flows in breast cancer cell migration revealed by a three-dimensional microfluidic system. She joined Sant lab in September 2013. She is interested in studying cell migration & cell-cell interactions in cancer progression.


Undergraduate Students

Rebecca Hartley

 Undergraduate, Bioengineering







Lab Alumni

Sumit Goenka, Visiting Research Scholar (Nov 2012-Feb2013)

Maria Jaramillo, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Yuka Higuchi, Bioengineering undergraduate student (June 2013-Dec 2014)