Piyush K. Jain, PhD
Principal Investigator

Piyush Jain

About Dr. Jain
Dr. Jain joined as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Florida in the Fall of 2018. Prior to joining UF, Dr. Jain served as a Research Scientist in the lab of Prof. Sangeeta Bhatia at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Before joining MIT, he received an interdisciplinary Ph.D. degree in pharmaceutical sciences (major) and Chemistry (minor) from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) and a Bachelors of Pharmacy degree from Dr. Hari Singh Gour University in India. During his Ph.D. under the supervision of Prof. Simon H. Friedman, his research focused on engineering new light-responsive biochemical tools to control biological processes and deliver large biomolecules for the treatment of diseases. Dr. Jain is known for the development of light-activated RNA interference (LARI) for the treatment of cancer and for creating an insulin photoactivated depot (PAD) for the treatment of type I diabetes. As a postdoctoral associate at MIT, Dr. Jain with his team developed photoactivatable protease nanosensors for more reliable cancer detection in the urine and also led the development of CRISPR-plus (CRISPR-precise light-mediated unveiling of sgRNAs) technology that allows control of CRISPR activity with light. All these advanced systems present approaches to control biological processes with light in a spatiotemporal manner. In addition, Dr. Jain, his co-workers, and his students developed a targeted delivery system for CRISPR/Cas systems using tandem peptide-lipid constructs called CRISPR-GPS (CRISPR-Guiding Peptide Sequence).
The Jain lab is interested in improving the efficiency and specificity of CRISPR/Cas technologies and on developing targeted delivery of nucleic acids and proteins for efficient CRISPR-mediated genome editing. The Jain lab recently developed a CRISPR-ENHANCE technology by modifying crRNAs that can drastically enhance the efficiency of CRISPR/Cas systems for detecting a range of nucleic acid targets including prostate cancer, HIV, HCV, and SARS-CoV-2. By combining a rapid paper-based test, SARS-CoV-2 could be detected in 40-60 minutes with unprecedented sensitivity than before. The long-term goal of the Jain lab is to translate these systems into patients for better disease diagnosis and treatment of genetic disorders.
Dr. Jain has received multiple travel awards by American Chemical Society, won several best poster awards and honored with prestigious fellowships including dissertation research fellowship and preparing future faculty fellowship (PFF) at UMKC. His work has been published in the top journals including JACS, Angewandte Chemie, ACS Nano, Nature Protocols, NAR, etc. and he has been listed as an inventor on multiple patents and disclosures. His work, on LARI, PAD, and site-specific nucleic acid labeling using the ULTIMATE reagent has been featured on the cover/frontispiece of multiple journals.  His work on the ULTIMATE reagent, PAD, and CRISPR+ has been profiled broadly by over 100 websites in the scientific news, blogs and media including F1000 Prime, CBS, NBC, News Tribune, MIT News, International Business Times, TED Blog, ChemistryViews, Futurism, Sina News, Phs.org, etc. His expert opinion on CRISPR has been published in The Conversation multiple times and has been widely highlighted by 10,000+ media websites.
While at UMKC, Dr. Jain served as a graduate teaching assistant and as a part of his PFF fellowship, he received an opportunity to teach a course on medicinal chemistry to a class of over 100 students as a guest instructor. During his career, he tutored, trained and mentored several high school students, undergraduate students and graduate students and has received teaching certificates from UMKC and MIT. Dr. Jain was elected as the chair of advocacy and community building committees by MIT Postdoctoral Association and has been invited to serve as a panelist for graduate students and as a reviewer for multiple scientific journals that he continually supports. Besides this, Dr. Jain has been instrumental in preparing, writing and securing over $7.7 Million USD from NSF, NIH and DARPA grants for his academic mentors.
  • Assistant Professor, University of Florida (UF), Department of Chemical Engineering, August 2018-Present
  • Research Scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, March 2018-August 2018 (Advisor: Prof. Sangeeta N. Bhatia
  • Postdoctoral Associate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, June 2013- March 2018 (Advisor: Prof. Sangeeta N. Bhatia
  • PhD, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Pharmaceutical Sciences/Chemistry, May 2013 (Advisor: Prof. Simon H. Friedman)
  • Bachelors of Pharmacy, Dr. Hari Singh Gour University (Central University), India, June 2006
Active Research Support
  • Florida Breast Cancer Foundation, P0175159, “Early detection of breast cancer in the urine using CRISPR.” (2020-2021), PI: Jain
    • The goal of this project is to identify and detect early biomarkers of breast cancer using CRISPR/Cas based rapid detection platforms.
  • United States-India Science & Technology Endowment Fund, USISTEF/COVID-I/247/2020, “COVID-19: Development and validation of a CRISPR-based rapid and affordable kit” (2020-2021), PI: Jain
    • The goal of this project is to develop a rapid, CRISPR-based testing kit for detecting SARS-CoV-2 in COVID-19 patients.
Previous Experience
Experience in establishing, securing and managing grant proposals to various funding agencies as a key person:
  • NSF award 1052871, “Chemical methods to control RNA interference with light.” (2011-2015) $355,000, PI: Prof. Simon H. Friedman (UMKC) [Link]
    • Involved in research proposal, discussion, preliminary data and writing.
  • NIH award 1DP3DK106921-01, “Cannula-free and pump-free delivery of insulin using light.” (2015-2019) $1,372,629, PI: Prof. Simon H. Friedman (UMKC) [Link]
    • Contributed as the key person for the research proposal, generating preliminary data as well as writing.
  • DARPA Cooperative Agreement HR0011-13-2-0017, “In Vivo Nanoplatforms (IVN).” $6 Million, PI: Prof. Michael Sailor (UCSD), Prof. Erkki Ruoslahti (Sanford Burnham Prebys), Prof. Sangeeta Bhatia (MIT) [Link]
    • Responsible for monthly, quarterly and annual reporting as well as for writing the renewal of the grant.
Selected publications

As corresponding/co-corresponding author (a full list is available here

  • Nguyen, LN, Rananaware SR, Pizzano BLM, Brandon ST, and Jain PK* Engineered CRISPR/Cas12a Enables Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Detection MedRxiv, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.12.23.20248725. [*Corresponding author] [Manuscript under review at Communications Medicine- Nature[Download pdf] [View]
  • Nguyen, LN, Gurijala, J, Rananaware SR, Pizzano BLM, Brandon ST, and Jain PK* CRISPR-ENHANCE: An enhanced nucleic acid detection platform using Cas12a. Methods, 2021, 10.1016/j.ymeth.2021.02.001 [*Corresponding author[View]
  • Nguyen, LN, Smith, BM, Jain PK* Enhancement of trans-cleavage activity of Cas12a with engineered crRNA enables amplified nucleic acid detection Nature Communications, 2020, 114906 [*Corresponding author] [Download pdf] [View] [BioRxiv version]
  • Downing M and Jain PK*, Mesoporous silica nanoparticles: synthesis, properties, and biomedical applications. Nanoparticles for Biomedical Applications, 2019; 267-281, Book Chapter. [*Corresponding author] [View]
  • Jain PK*, Lo JH, Rananaware S, Downing M, Panda A, Tai M, Raghavan S, Fleming HE and Bhatia SN*. Non-viral delivery of CRISPR/Cas9 complex using CRISPR-GPS nanocomplexes. Nanoscale, 2019; 11, 21317-21323 [*Co-corresponding author]  [Download pdf] [View]

As first-author (a full list is available here

Selected Honors and Awards (full list is available here)
  • Shah Rising Star Professorship (2021-Current)
  • NIH Reviewer, Cellular and Molecular Technologies (CMT) study section (2021-Current)
  • Dissertation Research Fellowship– Awarded to only 4 PhD students in the University, UMKC (2011-2012) 
  • Preparing Future Faculty Fellowship– Awarded to only 5 PhD students in the University, UMKC for three consecutive years, (2008-2011) 
  • Best Poster Awards– Three times winner, Annual Health Sciences Research Summit, UMKC (2011, 2012 & 2013) 
  • American Chemical Society Travel Awards– Competitive travel awards awarded twice, by ACS Division of Biological Chemistry (2009 & 2010)
Courses Taught
  • Pharmaceutical BioEngineering (ECH4905, ECH6937) – Spring 2019, Spring 2021
    Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville FL, USA
  • Material and Energy Balance (ECH3023) – Fall 2018, Spring 2020
    Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville FL, USA
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