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|Volume 11 Edition 7: April 2012. Zachary Dayhuff, Editor|
Shahnaz Qadri: Nanotechnology Pioneer
Qadri arrived in the summer semester of 2008 and wasted no time getting to work. "From the Greensboro airport I came directly to the lab at Eberhart ... and the next day I started synthesizing magnetic nanoparticles." Under Dr. Haik's supervision, Qadri designed an experiment for using nanoparticles to clean up hazardous waste—such as the red, blue, and green dyes used by textile manufacturers—from bodies of water. The experiment, which utilized a new polymer invented by Dr. Haik, was a tremendous success. "Our idea worked great," says Qadri, "and this research became the platform for future magnetic separation techniques..."
In the spring semester of 2009, Dr. Haik told Qadri about a project to explore the use of metallic nanoparticles to treat Osteomyelitis, a bacterial infection in the bone that causes more than 19,000 fatalities per year. Because the site of infection is deep in the bone, Osteomyelitis is difficult to treat conventionally, and the bacteria which cause it are steadily building resistance to even the latest antibiotics. The hope of the project was that metallic nanoparticles would easily penetrate the bone tissue, and that the bacteria would not easily build a resistance to them. Qadri was fascinated with the project, and he agreed to design the experiments for it as his Ph.D. thesis.
His work has thus far been promising. "Metals by convention are believed to be toxic to humans," he says, "but we found actually it is the dose or level of exposure which is toxic! We are able to demonstrate the exposure levels of metallic nanoparticles to human cells which are safe and at the same time act as antibiotic to bacteria." Qadri and Dr. Haik have also found that the nanoparticles can be applied non-invasively to the infection site or even administered orally, whereas conventional treatments often require surgical application of antibiotics. Now working out of the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, Qadri has continued to collaborate with UAEU on the project, and he will soon be visiting there with Dr. Haik to further test his experiments under the supervision of Dr. Basel K. Ramadi, Chairman of the Microbiology department at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
For most of his time at UNCG, Qadri has been joined by his wife, Sarmadia, who arrived in Greensboro three months after him. Sarmadia, who has a Master’s of Science in Biotechnology, also worked with Dr. Haik at UAEU, and she was offered a job in his lab at UNCG developing a device that can be used in restaurants to detect serious food allergies. Sarmadia also worked with Qadri and Dr. Haik on their industrial waste clean-up project and co-authored a number of research papers with Qadri. She is presently a research scientist at the Joint school of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering.
On being able to work and travel with his wife, Qadri says, “I am blessed that I have Sarmadia in my life.” The couple has had other blessings in Greensboro as well, including a daughter, Zairah Shahnaz, who was born on October 8, 2011 at Greensboro Women’s Hospital. Qadri has altogether enjoyed his experience in North Carolina. “Greensboro is the birthplace of my daughter,” he says, “and wherever we will go, we will always admire this place.”
Qadri has found another reason to admire North Carolina: “It may be a coincidence,” he says, but “the weather and all four seasons of my native place in Kashmir are similar to Greensboro, which I always missed when I was in south India or UAE.” For this reason, he says, he has always felt at home in Greensboro.
As for his success at UNCG, Qadri credits his colleagues, and especially commends Chemistry and Biochemistry professors Drs. Nadja Cech, Alice Haddy, Greg Ranner, Will Taylor, and Jason Reddick. “I am an average student,” he says modestly, “and if I am doing any good it will be because of brilliant students, staff and faculty around me at UNCG.” Qadri will be defending his thesis in the fall of 2012, and after that he will apply to begin postdoctoral work at various universities the following summer.