New BME Assistant Professor Developing Nanotechnologies

Jered Haun working to diagnose diseases with nanotechnology

Jered B. Haun, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, in The Henry Samueli School of Engineering, is conducting research focused on developing nanotechnologies to diagnose diseases and obtain new insight into biology.

Haun is broadly interested in detecting unique signatures, or biomarkers, that accompany diseases such as cancer and atherosclerosis. These biomarkers herald the presence of the disease, and may also provide valuable insight about the pathological phenotype that can be used to formulate powerful, personalized therapies. He is working to develop enabling technologies for two primary applications: 1) molecular imaging of diseases inside of patients; and 2) molecular profiling of cell samples that have been removed from patients as part of standard clinical care.

For molecular imaging, Haun is creating new magnetic and fluorescent nanoparticles with improved signal levels and binding properties. A key aspect of this work is the use of novel experimental and theoretical models to study nanoparticle adhesion within blood vessels. The information gained from these models can then be used to engineer targeted nanoparticles with ideal binding characteristics for various scenarios that may be encountered.

For molecular profiling, Haun is developing new nanoparticle sensors and bioconjugation techniques for use with clinical samples. He already has experience in this area, as he was a lead contributor in a clinical study to detect protein biomarkers in micro-biopsies from patients with epithelial cancers. In this work, Haun used magnetic nanoparticles to tag protein biomarkers on cancer cells. The magnetic nanoparticles were then revealed using a miniaturized nuclear magnetic resonance (µNMR) detection device. This study showed that a large panel of biomarkers could be analyzed in minute amounts of patient tissue while also providing an accurate and rapid diagnosis. Haun plans to continue this work using different cancer types and detection modalities. In addition, he is developing new devices for processing and detecting clinical samples, which can be operated at the patient’s bedside.

Haun’s work aligns well into several primary focus areas of BME, specifically biophotonics, bio-microelectricalmechanical systems (bioMEMS), and cardiovascular technology.  His expertise in developing nanoparticles for targeting tumors and studying cell biology in vivo has strong synergy with the UC Irvine Center for Complex Biological Systems (CCBS) and the Institute of Clinical and Translational Science (ICTS) at UC Irvine.

Haun received his B.S. in chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota in 2000, his M.S.E. in biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University in 2003, and his Ph.D. in bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania in 2008. He joined the Samueli School in July 2011.