Directory Profile

Shilpa Sant, PhD

Office: 7408 Salk Hall, 3501 Terrace St, 15261

Phone: 412-648-9804

Fax: 412-383-7436



Shilpa Sant, PhD is an Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences with secondary appointment in the Department of Bioengineering. She is a faculty member at McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and also a member of Cancer Biology Program at the UPMC-Hillman Cancer Center.

Before joining Pitt, Dr. Sant was a Ruth Kirschstein NRSA Interdisciplinary training fellow at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, and the Center for Bioengineering at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. She received a PhD in Pharmaceutical Technology from University of Montreal, Canada; MS in Pharmacology and BS (BPharm) in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Mumbai. Dr. Sant is a trained Pharmaceutical scientist with a strong background in biomaterials, bioengineering, micro/nanoscale technologies, cancer biology, and drug delivery.

Dr. Sant has contributed over 60 articles in peer-reviewed journals including research and review articles, book chapters, and abstracts with over 5000 Google scholar citations and h-index of 28. She has two US patents awarded and 2 US patent applications filed. She has edited a book entitled “Nanomaterials in Tissue Engineering: Fabrication and Applications” and a journal issue “Stem Cells: Microenvironment, Micro/Nanotechnology, and Application”, in Stem Cells International. Her achievements in research have been recognized by prestigious fellowships by prestigious fellowships: Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NIH, USA), Post-doctoral Fellowship (Le Fonds Quebecoise de Recherche sur Nature et Technologies, FQRNT, Canada), Post-graduate Scholarship (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, NSERC). She has also received several awards including 2017 Young Innovator’s Award, 2016 Rising Star Early Career Faculty Award and 2013 Rising Star Fellow Award from Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering, Biomedical Engineering Society. She serves as an Associate Editor for IEEE Transactions on NanoBioScience and also serves as an editorial board member of Scientific Reports and a Biomaterials Review Editor for Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, Materials and Molecular Biosciences. Dr. Sant is a member of TERMIS, Biomedical Engineering Society, Society for Biomaterials, American Association of Cancer Research, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and the Indian Pharmaceutical Association.

View a list of Dr. Sant’s publications here


Dr. Shilpa Sant
Associate Professor
School of Pharmacy
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Department of Bioengineering
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
UPMC-Hillman Cancer Center
700 Technology Drive, Room 4307
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
Phone: (Office) 412 6489804

-Cell-instructive biomaterials for regenerative therapy
-Biomimetic three-dimensional microenvironments mimicking disease progression

The central research theme in Sant laboratory at Pitt is to develop physiologically relevant three-dimensional microenvironments with the goal to elucidate how microenvironmental factors drive cellular behaviors in tissue repair/regeneration with focus on heart valve and bone regeneration. Her lab is also interested in developing biomimetic three-dimensional (3D) in vitro culture systems to recapitulate hallmarks of disease progression. Her efforts in this area are funded by R37 MERIT Award by NCI, NIH to develop breast cancer organoids mimicking primary breast tumor microenvironments such as hypoxia and metabolic stress to study transition from pre-invasive to invasive disease. Her team is also working towards developing brain organoids to study pathology of various CNS disorders such as neurocognitive disorders in HIV patients. Her research team combines interdisciplinary biomaterial-, molecular/cell biology- and micro/nanotechnology-based approaches to build biomimetic microenvironments.

In the pharmaceutical companies, cell-based assays are routinely used for screening drug safety and efficacy. However, traditional two-dimensional (2D) cell culture techniques often fail to recapitulate microenvironmental context and relevant complexity of tissues in vivo leading to poor predictions about drug effectiveness and response in clinical trials. Cancer is perfect example of a complex disease where tumor microenvironment plays important role in tumor progression, metastasis and invasion. Despite the amount of efforts and money invested in the drug development, success of the majority of clinical trials remains poor due to lack of well-defined, reproducible in vitro 3D models based on human cells as well as failure of in vivo animal models to recapitulate human pathophysiology. Hence, our lab is interested in developing tissue-engineered models that recreate the 3D structure, cell-cell/cell-ECM interaction, stromal environments (in case of tumor), and signalling cues present in vivo. We use microfabrication, tissue engineering, materials science and drug delivery principles to control cellular microenvironments and develop regenerative therapies. Currently, we are using microfabrication approaches to control the size of tumor microtissues and study microenvironmental differences in these microtissues. We also have projects related to bioinspired material fabrication using microfluidics. We work with biodegradable polymers, physically and chemically crosslinkable hydrogels and polymer-nanomaterial composites. We are interested in processing these materials to mimic in vivo interfaces using various techniques such as electrospinning, micro/nanofabrication, layer-by-layer technique as well as morphogen gradients. Overall, our lab uses multidisciplinary approaches using materials science, drug delivery technology, tissue engineering principles and micro/nanofabrication to create biomimetic microenvironments to test drug safety and efficacy. We encourage undergraduate research and always interested in highly motivated and hardworking student volunteers looking for hands-on research experience!

View a list of Dr. Sant’s publications here

1997-1999 Junior Research Fellowship, All India Institute of Technology and Engineering, India
2000-2002 Senior Research Fellowship, Panacea Biotech (Pvt.) Ltd., India
2003 Graduate Student Scholarship, University of Montreal, Canada
2005 Travel Grant, Nanomedicine and Drug Delivery Symposium, Baltimore, USA
2006 Travel Grant, Controlled Release Society, Vienna, Austria
2005-2007 Post-graduate Fellowship, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Canada
2008-2010 Post-doctoral Fellowship, Le Fonds de Recherche Québec sur Nature et Technologies, Quebec (FRQNT), Canada
2011-2012 Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Interdisciplinary Training Fellowship, NIH, USA
2013 Rising Star/Fellow Award, Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (CMBE), Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES)
2016 Rising Star Early Career Faculty Award, Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (CMBE), Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES)
2016 Senior Vice Chancellor (SVC) Lecture Series, University of Pittsburgh
2017 Young Innovator Award, Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (CMBE), Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES)

Project number: 1R37 CA232209
Title: Three-dimensional organoid models to study breast cancer progression
Funding Agency: National Institute of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Dates: 07/01/18-6/30/23
Role: Principle Investigator