Dr Afeesh Rajan Unnithan is working as a Lecturer in the Centre for Pharmaceutical Engineering Science at the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences. Prior to joining the University of Bradford, he was working as a Research fellow in Prof. Alicia ElHaj’s lab at the University of Birmingham. He obtained his PhD in Bionanosystem Engineering from the Jeonbuk National University, South Korea in 2013. He obtained two Young Investigator grants from the National Research Foundation of Korea in 2013 and 2018 respectively. Each of these projects was valued at $150,000 for 3 years. Moreover, he is also a recipient (2016) of the prestigious Korean Research Fellowship (KRF) worth $250,000 for 5 years.
As a PI in the above-mentioned projects, he has developed multifunctional novel materials termed piezoelectric biomaterials for the development of next-generation of biomaterial implants. Thus, Dr Afeesh is an expert in the development and characterisation of electroactive biomaterials and their cellular interactions in an electrically active environment with the aim of enhanced tissue regeneration. These areas have formed the foundation of his research vision to innovate the next-generation multifunctional smart biomaterials that enhance cell stimulation by producing bioelectrical signals analogous to native tissues. Dr Afeesh has published 55 peer-reviewed journal papers with 2960 citations with an h-index of 28 and it includes publications in the most prestigious journal venues in material science such as Advanced Functional Materials, Nano Energy etc. Moreover, he has contributed 3 book chapters to two scholarly books namely Nanotechnology Applications for Tissue Engineering and Polyurethane Polymers Blends and Interpenetrating Polymer Networks published by Elsevier. He also served as an editor for the book titled “Biomimetic Nanoengineered Materials for Advanced drug Delivery” by Elsevier.
As evinced in my academic milieus, I possess a strong interdisciplinary research background. After completing a Master’s Degree (M.Tech) in Nanomedicine, I pressed ahead to an interdisciplinary research career in which my main focus was on the preparation and functionalisation of multifunctional nanosystems including electrospun nanofibrous scaffolds and functional nanoparticles for various therapeutic and tissue regenerative applications.
I have developed multifunctional novel biomaterials termed piezoelectric biomaterials for the development of next-generation of biomaterial implants. I have developed piezoelectric hybrid nanoparticles such as PiezoMagnetic nanoparticles, and PiezoPlasmoic Nanoparticles for noninvasive regenerative medicine applications. Interestingly these materials are also exploited for developing Nano-generators as a sustainable source of energy for biomedical implants.
Thus, in short, I am an expert in the development and characterisation of electroactive biomaterials and their cellular interactions in an electrically active environment with the aim of enhanced tissue regeneration. These areas have formed the foundation of my research vision to innovate the next generation of multifunctional smart biomaterials that enhance cell stimulation by producing bioelectrical signals analogous to native tissues. Some of my recent notable research achievements are listed below
(1) The first report on the development of an Implantable Anticancer Device (IAD) for post-surgical breast cancer therapy and simultaneous breast reconstruction (Therapy+ Diagnosis + Regeneration=Theranogeneration)
(2) Co-developed the Piezoelectric Whitlockite for the first time for enhanced proliferation and osteogenic differentiation through non-invasive cell stimulation
(3) Co-developed Blood-flow driven smart Piezoelectric stent
(4) Development of Piezomagnetic hybrid nanoparticles for ultrasound-driven non-invasive post-surgical osteosarcoma Therogeneration
(5) The first report on the mussel-inspired nanofibers and their application as an anticancer patch
Our research is focused to launch a new dynamic treatment platform, which will extend the therapeutic horizon and provide a new form of remote-controlled healing. From a future perspective, Piezoelectric-biomaterials will gain their role in various biomedical applications like biosensors, biomechanical energy harvesters, self-powered bioimplants, artificial electronic skins and implantable microelectronics owing to their smart energy conversion properties.