Piyush K. Jain, PhD
Shah Rising Star Assistant Professor
Principal Investigator

Piyush Jain

About Dr. Jain
Dr. Jain is currently a Shah Rising Star Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Florida (UF), who joined 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 (Nanoscale, 2019; Nanoparticles for Biomedical Applications, 2019) and proteins for efficient CRISPR-mediated genome editing. The Jain lab recently developed a CRISPR-ENHANCE technology (Nature communications, 2020; Methods, 2021; Communications Medicine-Nature (Accepted), 2021) 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 the 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 Nature Communications, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Angewandte Chemie, ACS Nano, Nature Protocols, Nucleic Acids Research, Nanoscale, 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.
  • Shah Rising Star Assistant Professor, University of Florida (UF), Department of Chemical Engineering, March 2021-Present
  • 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
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PI: Dinglasan (2021-2026); GH002338, Total Award Amount: $10,000,000
  • NIH, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), PI: Jain (2021-2023); R21AI156321, Total Award Amount: $419,375
  • NIH, Office of the Director (OD), PI: Maden (2019-2022), R21OD028211, Total Award Amount: $419,375
  • Sarepta Therapeutics, PI: Vulpe (2020-2022), AGR00018125 TO No. 3, Total Award Amount: $761,593
  • United States-India Science & Technology Endowment Fund, PI: Jain (2020-2021), USISTEF/COVID-I/247/2020, Total Award Amount: $68,027
Completed Research Support
  • Florida Breast Cancer Foundation, PI: Jain (2020-2021), P0175159, Total Award: $100,000
Selected publications

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

  • Nguyen LT, Macaluso NC, Rakestraw NR, Carman DR, Pizzano BLM, Hautamaki RC, and Jain PK* Harnessing Non-canonical crRNAs to Improve Functionality of Cas12a Orthologs”, 2023 [Cell Reports, 2024- Accepted in principle][medRxiv-2021] [*Corresponding author]
  • Rananaware SR, Vesco EK, Shoemaker GM, Anekar SS, Sandoval LSW, Meister KS, Macaluso NC, Nguyen LT, and Jain, PK*, Programmable RNA detection with CRISPR-Cas12a. Nature Communications, 2023, 14 (5409), doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-41006-1. [View] [Research Square, 2023] [bioRxiv, 2023] [*Corresponding author]
  • Nguyen LT§, Rananaware SR§, Yang LG§, Macaluso NC§, Ocana-Ortiz JE, Meister KS, Pizzano BLM, Sandoval LSW, Hautamaki RC, Fang ZR, Joseph SM, Shoemaker GM, Carman DR, Chang L, Rakestraw NR, Zachary JF, Guerra S, Perez A, Jain PK*, Engineering Highly Thermostable Cas12b via De Novo Structural Analyses for One-Pot Detection of Nucleic Acids Cell Reports Medicine2023, 4(5), 101037 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrm.2023.101037 [View] [Highlighted on the cover] [medRxiv, 2022] [SSRN, 2023] [*Corresponding author][§Equal contributions]
  • Nguyen, LT, Macaluso N, Pizzano B, Cash M, Spacek J, Karasek J, Miller MR, Lednicky JA, Dinglasan RD, Salemi M, and Jain PK* A Thermostable Cas12b from Brevibacillus Leverages One-pot Discrimination of SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern eBioMedicine- THE LANCET, 2022, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ebiom.2022.103926 [*Corresponding author] [medRxiv[Preprints with THE LANCET] [Download pdf] [View]
  • Nguyen, LT, Rananaware SR, Pizzano BLM, Brandon ST, and Jain PK* Clinical validation of engineered CRISPR/Cas12a for rapid SARS-CoV-2 detection. Communications Medicine- Nature, 2022, https://doi.org/10.1038/s43856-021-00066-4 [*Corresponding author] [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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