Posted October 5, 2007

Mechanical engineering grad student wins AHA fellowship for breast cancer research

Kiani and Donelson
Photo by Ryan S. Brandenberg/Temple University

At left, Fred Donelson and Mohammad F. Kiani, professor and chair of mechanical engineering

Fred Donelson, a second-year graduate student in mechanical engineering, has been awarded a prestigious two-year, $42,000 fellowship from the American Heart Association to support his research into the targeted delivery of anti-vascular drugs to irradiated tumors in breast cancer.

Donelson, 24, is working in the laboratory of Mohammad F. Kiani, professor and chair of mechanical engineering, whose research focuses on targeted drug delivery, biofluidic device, radiation oncology, tissue engineering and tissue oxygenation. He is the second student in Kiani’s lab to earn this AHA fellowship.


“During the past decade, there has been an increasing focus on cancer therapies that combine ionizing radiation with anti-vascular drugs,” explained Kiani. “However, anti-vascular drugs have undesirable side effects in many normal tissues, are mostly effective at or above maximally tolerated doses, and are most effective when administered after radiotherapy.

Kiani and his colleagues are testing the hypothesis that particle-based targeted delivery of anti-vascular drugs to irradiated mammary tumors can circumvent side effects or limitations of combination radiation-systemic anti-vascular therapy, Kiani said.

“This is what Fred has been working on for the past year,” he added.

Kiani said Donelson was recruited into Temple’s mechanical engineering graduate program last year and already has shown great potential for research and scholarship.

“During the past year, Fred has managed to develop a keen understanding of the fields of targeted drug delivery and radiation oncology, has learned a large number of experimental techniques, and has collected some preliminary data,” he said, adding that Donelson’s work has already yielded important findings.

“This summer, he submitted an abstract as the first author for presentation at a meeting of the Nanomedicine and Drug Delivery Symposium. He will also start publishing his work in a peer-reviewed journal this year as a secondary author on a manuscript that is currently in preparation by another member of my laboratory, and includes data collected by Fred.”

Donelson, a 2006 graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in physics and a minor in mathematics, said that when he was an undergraduate he visited several schools where he thought he might like to pursue graduate education and talked to people there about research projects that sounded interesting. He added that he was especially interested in using engineering principals for health- and medical-related purposes.

“Dr. Kiani is doing some very interesting research in the biomedical engineering field that interested me, and Temple looked like a very good school to continue with my studies,” Donelson said.

He said his experience so far at Temple and in Kiani’s lab has been “very hands-on, which is what I had hoped it would be.”

Donelson said he hopes to purse a career in biomedical engineering, possibly in cancer research, after earning his Ph.D. at Temple.