Swayam Prabha, MBA, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology (ECP)
Swayam Prabha Headshot


Office Phone
Office Address

3-120A Weaver-Densford Hall
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Lab Address

9-151 Weaver-Densford Hall
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States


Assistant Professor, Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology (ECP)


PhD in Pharmaceutics, University of Nebraska Medical Center

MBA, University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management

Master of Technology, Banaras Hindu University

Bachelor of Pharmacy, Delhi University

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My current efforts are focused on developing novel drug/gene delivery approaches to fulfill unmet therapeutic needs. My tenure in the pharmaceutical industry and involvement in the development of clinical formulations, several of which have been successfully approved by the FDA, have enabled a deeper understanding of what it takes to translate ideas and concepts from laboratory into a clinical drug product. I hope to utilize this knowledge to devise therapies that are highly effective and have fewer side effects for lung and ovarian cancers, both diseases with poor survival rates and in urgent need of novel therapeutic approaches.


Translational Research, Ovarian Cancer, Targeted Drug Delivery, Cell Based Therapies, Nanoengineered Stem Cells Therapeutics

Awards & Recognition

  • Betty and Terry Nobel Gift for Ovarian Cancer Research 2017
  • First Place, Medtronic Interdisciplinary Case Competition to develop “Go-to Market” strategy, 2012
  • Medical Industry Leadership Institute Fellowship, 2010-2011
  • Norman and Bernice Harris award for excellence in cancer research, 2004
  • AAPS Graduate Symposium Award in Biotechnology, 2004
  • Norman and Bernice Harris award for excellence in cancer research, 2002
  • Pre-doctoral Fellowship awarded by the Department of Defense, USA, 2002-2005
  • Widaman Fellowship Supplement from University of Nebraska Medical Center, 2002-2005
  • Best oral presentation at Midwest Student Biomedical Research Forum, NE, 2004
  • First place Oral Presentation at Midwest Student Biomedical Research Forum, NE, 2001
  • Junior Research Fellowship awarded by University Grants Commission, India, 1997-1999

Professional Associations

  • American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists
  • Controlled Release Society
  • American Association of Cancer Research

Research Summary

Translational Research to improve efficacy of chemotherapeutics
A detailed understanding of the biological fate of delivery systems and, more importantly, in the microenvironment of the target tissue is necessary to further improve treatment efficacy. There is a clear need for delivery systems that can seek out and accumulate actively in tumors, without the need for the enhanced permeation and retention effect. My research is primarily focused on developing such targeted delivery systems that can be effectively translated to the clinic.

Nano-engineered MSCs as targeted drug carriers (Funding received from NIH)
Poor delivery of chemotherapeutics to deep-seated and metastatic cancers results in the development of drug resistance and failed therapeutic outcomes. Approaches that improve drug delivery specifically to the tumor tissue could improve therapeutic efficacy while minimizing toxic side effects. In this project, we use mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as tumor-targeted carriers for anticancer therapies. MSCs possess unique tumor-homing capabilities. Our studies show that MSCs can be engineered to carry cytotoxic drugs such as paclitaxel by using nanoparticle-encapsulated forms of the drugs. Such ‘nano-engineered’ MSCs actively traffic to tumors, enabling targeted drug delivery and tumor growth inhibition.

Modified MSCs with artificial receptors for targeted drug delivery (Funding received from Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance)
Targeting a deep-rooted cancer such as ovarian cancer without any systemic toxicity is a major barrier. Ligand-based targeting (‘active targeting’) attempts to exploit the fact that tumor cells overexpress specific membrane proteins that can be targeted with appropriate antibodies or ligands. However, it has become increasingly clear that many, if not most, of these proteins are expressed on normal cells as well. Thus, true tumor-specific targeting is difficult to achieve through targeting of natural membrane proteins. Hence, we are pursuing a unique, two-step targeting approach that relies on the introduction of synthetic targets in the tumor tissue, followed by the delivery of agents that have high affinity for these targets. We are developing little drug factories wherein stem cells are modified with artificial azide targets. Our studies demonstrate the potential of MSC-based two-step targeting strategy to improve the tumor specificity of diagnostic agents and drugs, and thus improve the treatment outcomes for patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer.


Academic Interests and Focus

Cancer Therapeutics; Improving Delivery of Small Molecules; Pharmacometrics

Teaching Areas

Clinical Pharmacology


ECP 8992 Directed Readings; PHAR 5230 Principles of Clinical Pharmacology; ECP 8100/ PHAR 6160 Seminar 


  • Sadhukha T, B. Layek and Prabha S* (2017) Incorporation of lipolysis in monolayer permeability studies of lipid based drug delivery systems. Drug Delivery Translational research, May 1,pp 1-12.
  • Usacheva M, Layek B, Rahman S and Prabha S*, Nanoparticle-mediated photodynamic therapy in mixed biofilms.Journal of Nanomaterials (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/4752894.
  • Layek B, Sadhukha T and Prabha S*, Glycoengineered Mesenchymal Stem Cells as an Enabling Platform for Two-Step Targeting of Solid Tumors, Biomaterials (2016), 88, 97 -109.
  • Fernández-Gallardo J., Elie B.T., Sadhukha T., Prabha S., Sanaú M, Rotenberg S.A., Ramos J.W. and Contel M. Heterometallic titanium-gold complexes inhibit renal cancer cells in vitro and in vivo, Chem. Sci. (2015), 6, 5269-5283.
  • Frik M, Martínez A, Elie BT, Gonzalo O, Ramírez de Mingo D, Sanaú M, Sánchez-Delgado R, Sadhukha T, Prabha S, Ramos JW, Marzo I, Contel M. In Vitro and in Vivo Evaluation of Water-Soluble Iminophosphorane Ruthenium(II) Compounds. A Potential Chemotherapeutic Agent for Triple Negative Breast Cancer, J Med Chem (2014), 57(23): 9995-10012.
  • Sadhukha T., O'Brien T. and Prabha S.*, Nano-engineered mesenchymal stem cells as targeted therapeutic carriers, J Controlled Release (2014), 196:243-51.
  • Sadhukha, T. and Prabha, S.*, (2014). Encapsulation in nanoparticles improves anti-cancer efficacy of carboplatin, AAPS PharmSciTech, 15(4), 1029-1038.
  • Prabha, S., Sharma B and Labhasetwar V. (2012). Inhibition of tumor angiogenesis and growth by nanoparticle-mediated p53 gene therapy in mice, Cancer gene therapy 19(8): 530-7.
  • Prabha, S., Sharma B and Labhasetwar V. (2012). Inhibition of tumor angiogenesis and growth by nanoparticle-mediated p53 gene therapy in mice, Cancer gene therapy 19(8):530-7.
  • Prabha, S., Ma, W., and Labhasetwar, V. (2004) Biodegradable Nanoparticles as Gene Expression Vector in Polymeric Gene Delivery: Principles and Applications edited by Mansoor Amiji, CRC Press, 357-67.
  • Prabha, S. and Labhasetwar, V. (2004) Nanoparticle-Mediated Sustained Wild Type-P53 Gene Delivery Results In Greater Antiproliferative Activity In Breast Cancer Cells, Molecular Pharmaceutics, 1(3), 211-19.
  • Prabha, S. and Labhasetwar, V. (2004) Critical determinants in nanoparticle-mediated gene expression. Pharm Res, 21 (2), 354-63.


  • Sadhukha T, Layek B, and Prabha S Glycoengineered MSCs as therapeutic drug carriers patent application 2017
  • Sadhuka T, Thakral S, Suryanarayanan R. and Prabha S Stable formulations of propofol hemisuccinate Invention disclosure submitted March 2014