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Principal Investigator
Ali Hafezi-Moghadam, MD, PhD
Ali Hafezi-Moghadam, MD, PhD

I received my Abitur degree, equivalent of the bachelor’s in sciences in Berlin Germany.  I then studied medicine and completed my dissertation at the Freie University Berlin.  As a postdoctoral fellow, I studied for three years at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville (UVA) in the department of Biomedical Engineering.

Upon completion, I joined the faculty at the Immune Disease Institute (formerly, Center for Blood Research), an affiliate of the Harvard Medical School as an instructor.  In 2003, I established my laboratory at Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary (MEEI) and since 2010 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).

I am trained in vascular biology, in vivo imaging and immune function.  My approach is interdisciplinary in nature and is ultimately geared toward translation.

Aliaa Barakat, PhD

I am a mathematician and bioinformatician with advanced training and experience in non-linear dynamics, mathematical modeling and machine learning. The overarching goal of my research is to use mathematical structures to describe the spatial and temporal dynamics of physical and biological systems, and to identify geometric shapes and patterns in complex datasets and apply mathematical methods to data analysis and the development of predictive models. I have particular focus on elucidating the pathogenesis of complex diseases, like diabetes and its multi-organ complications, and biomarker modeling of disease processes through the utilization of novel systems biology and biomedical data science approaches. I also have strong interest in patient-centered care and research as well as health and regulatory policies. I founded a nonprofit organization, the Pulmonary Care and Research Collaborative and its Interstitial Lung Disease Collaborative, dedicated to using population health bioinformatics platforms and data science to improve health care quality and outcomes for pulmonary patients.

Christoph Russmann, PhD

I am a Visiting Professor at MBNI and a Professor in Medical Technology and Photonics at the University of Applied Sciences (HAWK) in Göttingen, Germany, and the Academic Dean at the Health Campus Göttingen, a joint institution between HAWK and the University Medical Göttingen. I received my PhD in physical chemistry from the Philipps University in Marburg, Germany in 1997. Since 1998, I have held several leadership positions in MedTech industry. In 2005, I joined the Carl Zeiss Meditec AG, where I was the Program Manager in Advanced Imaging and Head of the Clinical Affairs and Application Development. I was involved in the development of a variety of cutting-edge medical technologies that are currently in clinical use. My research focuses on development of femtosecond laser technology in medical imaging, and light-based molecular imaging in ophthalmology and oncology.

Dawei Sun, MD, PhD

I am a professor and the physician-in-chief in the Department of Ophthalmology at the second affiliated hospital of Harbin Medical University. In 2018, I joined MBNI as a visiting professor to foster my interest in cutting edge retinal imaging and biomarker development.

I received my MD degree in Ophthalmology and Otorhinolaryngology in Harbin Medical University, China. I then studied ophthalmology, completed my dissertation and received my PhD degree at the second affiliated hospital of Harbin Medical University.

Upon completion, I joined the faculty at the second affiliated hospital of Harbin Medical University as an ophthalmologist. My main research and clinical area is ocular fundus diseases.

I completed my postdoctoral fellowship in Dr. Hafezi-Moghadam’s laboratory at the Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary (MEEI), an affiliate of the Harvard Medical School. I am formally trained in retinal vascular biology, in vivo molecular imaging in the retina and the choroids as a means to early diagnosis of ocular fundus diseases.

Team Members
Hua Jiang, MD, PhD

I joined MBNI in 2019. I’m an ophthalmologist in China. My specialties are pediatric ophthalmology and refractive surgery. I graduated from Shandong University and received my PhD degree in 2009. My research interests include early detection of biomarkers of diabetic retinopathy and fundus lesions related to high myopia. In my spare time, I read books and do physical exercise.

Mark Melhorn

In 2012, I received my PhD from the Leibniz University in Hannover, Germany. In my graduate work, I established a new experimental model for studies of the outer blood-retinal barrier (BRB) in rodents.

After my graduation, I started my post-doctoral work to study the innate immune system, specifically the signaling capacity of ATP after its release from human red blood cells at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

I co-founded eFXdata, a Boston-based FinTech data company, of which I am currently the managing director (

Since 2016, I have been actively enrolled at MBNI. I lead the studies pertaining to the role of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) in health and disease.

I have been happily married to my wife Carine since 2007 and together we have been blessed with three wonderful daughters. I’m also a runner, who enjoys an occasional 5k race.


I received my PhD in molecular genetics from Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran in 2016.  I gained a solid background in recombinant AAV-mediated gene transfer to the mouse eye and molecular/histological analysis. I joined MBNI in November 2019. My research is in the field of ocular diseases with a special focus on molecular underpinnings of retinal disorders and regeneration. I am interested in methods of early diagnosis of diabetic complications and in novel therapies pertaining to angiogenesis.

My wife and I have been happily married since 2010 and we have a lovely son. I enjoy being with my family and traveling.

Yuanlin Zhang

I received my PhD degree in physical chemistry from University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS). During PhD study, my research interest includes design, synthesis of fluorescent materials and their biological applications. After that, I went to University of Virginia work as research associate. I joined in MBNI as research fellow in July 2019. Here I work on developing biological material for light-triggered therapeutic interventions in the retina. My hobbies are travelling, fishing and climbing mountains.

Adjunct Scientist
Tschackad Kamali, PhD

I received my PhD in the field of Medical Physics / Biophotonics from the Medical University of Vienna, under the guidance of Prof. Wolfgang Drexler. My work was focused on the development of novel nonlinear imaging methods and an ultrahigh resolution optical coherence tomography system with the use of ultrashort laser pulses for obtaining structural and molecular (chemical) information at the same time.

My research interests include the development and application of non-invasive linear and nonlinear imaging methods for ophthalmology, to detect / diagnose pathological changes at a very early stage.

Beside science I also enjoy cooking, reading and doing sports.

Hamid Ahmadieh

Dr. Hamid Ahmadieh is Professor of Ophthalmology at Labbafinejad Medical Center and Deputy Director of Research at the Ophthalmic Research Center, affiliated to Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences. Dr. Ahmadieh is also the founder and senior editor of the Journal of Ophthalmic and Vision Research. His research interests are medical and surgical retina and retinal cell biology. His studies are mostly focused on angiogenesis and fibrosis, neuroprotection, proliferative vitreoretinopathy, ROCK inhibitors, retinal dystrophies; and basic, epidemiological and clinical aspects of diabetic retinopathy. Dr. Ahmadieh has authored over 160 articles and his Scopus H-index is 27. He has received a number of awards including American Academy of Ophthalmology Senior Achievement Award and American Society of Retina Specialists Honor Award.

Mansoor Amiji, PhD

Dr. Mansoor Amiji is currently the University Distinguished Professor, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences (primary) and Professor of Chemical Engineering (secondary) at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. He is also the Director of the Laboratory of Biomaterials and Advanced Nano-Delivery Systems (BANDS).

Dr. Amiji received his undergraduate degree in pharmacy from Northeastern University in 1988 and his PhD in pharmaceutics from Purdue University in 1992. His current research interests include synthesis of novel polymeric materials for medical and pharmaceutical applications; surface modification of cationic polymers by the complexation-interpenetration method to develop biocompatible materials; preparation and characterization of polymeric membranes and microcapsules with controlled permeability properties for medical and pharmaceutical applications; target-specific drug and vaccine delivery systems for gastrointestinal tract infections; localized delivery of cytotoxic and anti-angiogenic drugs for solid tumors in novel biodegradable polymeric nanoparticles intracellular delivery systems for drugs and genes using target-specific, long-circulating, biodegradable polymeric nanoparticles; gold and iron-gold core-shell nanoparticles for biosensing, imaging and delivery applications. His research has received over $28 million in sustained extramural funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), private foundations, and industries.

Dr. Amiji teaches in both the professional pharmacy program and in the graduate programs of Pharmaceutical Science, Biotechnology, and Nanomedicine. He has supervised research efforts of over 100 post-doctoral associates, both PhD and MS graduate students, and undergraduate pharmacy honors students over his career. He has edited 8 books including Applied Physical Pharmacy (1st and 2nd editions), Polymeric Gene Delivery: Principles and Applications (Taylor & Francis, 2005), Nanotechnology for Cancer Therapy (Taylor & Francis, 2007), and Handbook of Materials for Nanomedicine (Pan Stanford Publishing, 2010) along with over 70 published book chapters, and over 300 peer-reviewed articles. Dr. Amiji’s Google H-index is 80. He has received a number of awards including the 2006 NSTI Award for Outstanding Contributions towards the Advancement of Nanotechnology, Microtechnology, and Biotechnology and the 2007 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientist’s Meritorious Manuscript Award.

Zahra-Soheila Soheili

Zahra-Soheila Soheili Ph.D. is an associate professor of cell and molecular biology at National Institute of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (NIGEB).She graduated from the Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Tehran, Iran in 2002. Subsequently, she completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the U268 INSERM, Paris France in myeloproliferative disorders, where she focused on the role of the extracellular matrix in primary myelofibrosis.  In 2003 she was recruited to NIGEB and became an instructor and junior investigator at the “medical biotechnology department”, where she studied on human retinal pigment epithelium cells’ biology and behavior, in vitro. Recently, her lab discovered two types of RPE cell lines and wrote a license agreement for hRPE cell line trademark to distribute it through the International Applied Biological Materials, Inc. company.

Since her arrival at the medical biotechnology department, she established herself within the NIGEB community and rapidly risen through the ranks to become a senior investigator, currently at the associate professor level. She is an associate member of the institute board advisory committee.  She directs a multidisciplinary team of PhD students, who have a proven record of excellence in their respective fields.

In the past five years, she pursued novel therapies for important eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and retinitis pigmentosa. She is working on designing and synthesis of chimeric protein molecules for molecular therapy of ocular diseases, specifically for anti-angiogenic therapies in CNV based disorders, and also for replacement of degenerated photoreceptors by targeted optogenetic engineering.   Her team is working on AAV-based and Lentiviral vectors for gene delivery to the retinal cells, in vitro, and in animal models of the ocular disease.

In 2017 Dr. Soheili got a chance to be an invited scientist at the “service of ophthalmology in neuroclinic of the faculty of medicine, university of Genève, Switzerland”, which is the coordinator of the European project of the “Target AMD”.

Ke Zhang

I obtained my BS degree in 2005 in Applied Chemistry from Nanjing University of Technology, China, before moving the US to study polymer chemistry with Prof. Karen Wooley at Washington University in St. Louis, focusing on shell-crosslinked knedel-like nanoparticles and gene delivery. I obtained a PhD in Chemistry in 2009, and thereafter worked in the laboratory of Prof. Chad Mirkin at Northwestern University as a postdoctoral fellow to develop hollow spherical nucleic acids, a carrier-free platform for gene regulation. In 2012, I joined Northeastern University as an Assistant Professor, and became an Associate Professor of Chemistry in 2017. My current research includes the design and synthesis of unique polymer superstructures, nucleic acid-polymer conjugates, and nanomedicine. I have received the 2018 ACS PMSE Young Investigator Award, the 2018 Nano Research Young Investigator Award, an ACS PRF Doctoral New Investigator Award, and an NSF CAREER award.

Shahram Samiee

Shahram Samiee is an academic member of biochemistry department in Iranian Blood Transfusion Organization Research center (IBTO). He graduated from Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Tehran, Iran 1990. Subsequently, he completed his fellowship in chemical synthesis of oligonucleotide and molecular diagnosis at the Avicenna Medical Center, Russia, where he focused on current molecular methods for diagnosis of pathologic status. He was recruited in 1999 as a member of IBTO molecular pathologic unit. He also completed another fellowship on “Molecular Phylogenetic Analysis and HIV Drug Resistance Analysis” at the Department de Virology et Immunologie Biologique Hopital Pellegrin University of Boudreaux, France.

In 2000, Dr. Samiee established a molecular diagnostic Unit in Bahar Medical Laboratory. His Team is working on molecular diagnosis of viral infection, malignancy and genetic disorders. It’s an accredited   and well-established laboratory that has been well known in Tehran. Presently, more than 150 different molecular tests are available there.

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