Thursday, February 11, 2021

Associate Professor Reza Nejadnik has experience working in academic and industrial settings and has played critical roles on multi-national research teams in Europe and the U.S. Now he’s bringing his global view of protein pharmaceutical research to the University of Iowa’s College of Pharmacy.

Nejadnik joined the College’s team of pharmaceutical experts in December 2020, and is in the process of setting up his laboratory. He is excited to work with colleagues in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Experimental Therapeutics and interact with students.

A retiring professor told me that research is important, but that teaching and transmitting knowledge to the next generation is even more important...I truly believe that teaching has the biggest impact, and this is one of the main reasons that I want to work in academia.

A native of Iran, Nejadnik studied biomedical engineering and worked on physical chemistry and biointerface projects at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. After receiving his PhD from the university, he traveled to the U.S. for postdoctoral work and conducted a number of projects in protein characterization and surface interactions.

In 2013, he joined Leiden Academic Center for Drug Research in the Netherlands to co-lead COMPACT, a partnership between academic institutions and industry under the framework of European Innovative Medicines Initiative to study the formulation and delivery of macromolecules, including establishing a deeper understanding of protein aggregation and protein-material interactions.

Nejadnik’s career then took him to Frankfurt, Germany, where he worked at the pharmaceutical company Sanofi to develop biopharmaceutical drug products. During his three years in pharmaceutical drug research and development, Nejadnik concentrated on developing antibody and nanobody drug products for Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials and worked with student interns.

“At Sanofi, I realized that I wanted to go deeper in my research and that I wanted to continue working with students,” said Nejadnik. “Having worked in industry, I think I’m aware of the importance of real-life applications and the steps that are required to bring a drug from the lab bench to the marketplace.”

Nejadnik is looking forward to collaborating with large molecule researchers at the College and the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. He says that the College’s emphasis on protein pharmaceuticals was an essential factor in his decision to come to the University of Iowa.

It was clear to me during my interviews that the leadership at the College had made a strategic decision to push forward with research in biopharmaceuticals, and that was a big plus for me,” said Nejadnik. “I see a lot of great opportunities at the University of Iowa for my research. The quality of science that is going on in the College and elsewhere on campus is impressive.

Nejadnik is also eager to work with UI Pharmaceuticals, a unique service division within the College of Pharmacy—the only one in the nation—that develops, manufactures, and performs analytical testing on medicinal drugs.

“I think there will be many opportunities for collaborations,” said Nejadnik. “During my time with Sanofi, I worked on solving problems related to the manufacturing of biological drug products. I saw that process all the way through, from start to finish, so I hope to be able to share this knowledge and build on that experience.”

Nejadnik is married and has a 1-year-old daughter. He and his wife, who is a printmaker and who also has a PhD, are excited to start exploring Iowa City and the region, although, for the time being, they are staying close to home due to Covid-19.

“The snow is something different for us, but we’re enjoying it,” said Nejadnik. “We’re happy to be in Iowa, and we’re looking forward to discovering more of the state soon.”