Amreen Khan: The Healing Alchemist Working on Novel Materials with the Potential to Revolutionize Cancer Treatment and Wound Healing

Amreen Khan, a Biomedical Researcher at IIT Bombay, was invited to attend the 72nd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Physiology and Medicine to be held in June 2023. The Lindau Nobel Laureates recognized Amreen for her groundbreaking work in developing novel materials with the potential to revolutionize cancer treatment and wound healing. The meeting of exceptional scientific minds will allow Amreen to discover, collaborate, and partner with other luminaries as they set forth on an indomitable journey of scientific inquiry. This invitation also cements Amreen as one of the brightest scientific and research minds of her generation.

As Amreen prepares to step onto the global stage, IIT Bombay is excited to discover what this young researcher and scientist has in store for the future, and how her scientific breakthroughs will shape the course of humanity and its well-being. The Dean ACR Newsletter went along with Amreen on her audacious journey and uncovered the person behind the researcher and found out what makes her tick.

Hi Amreen, a big round of applause to you for being chosen to attend the 72nd Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting in Physiology/Medicine 2023. What an incredible honour! But before I ask you more about the program, can you tell us about your academic background first?

Thank you! I completed my bachelor’s degree from Dr. Harisingh Gour University Sagar and pursued my master’s degree in technology from the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research in Mohali. Later, I gained valuable industry experience as an international regulatory executive in biologics at Biocon Research Limited in Bangalore, India. But my passion for academics led me to pursue my Ph.D. journey at IIT Bombay.

My Doctoral research focuses on biomedical applications, specializing in wound healing and cancer theranostics nanomedicine. My research encompasses nanomedicine formulation, nanoparticle synthesis and characterization, solid-phase peptide synthesis, nanofibers development, biomaterials, microneedle-based MEMS drug delivery device fabrication, nanobiotheranostics, 3D printing, small molecules, and peptide screening, in vitro analysis, and AI.

Tell us about the Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting in Physiology/Medicine. What was the whole process like?

The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, established in 1951, have evolved into a distinctive international scientific forum. Each year, these annual gatherings foster exchange and collaboration among different generations, cultures, and disciplines. The visionary Lindau physicians, Franz Karl Hein and Gustav Wilhelm Parade, jointly organized the Lindau meetings as a way to encourage young scientists to make lasting connections as members of the Lindau Alumni Network and serve as ambassadors for scientific dialogue.

The Lindau Meetings alternate their focus among the three Nobel Prize scientific disciplines: Physics, Chemistry, and Physiology/Medicine. An interdisciplinary meeting is held every five years, while the Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences takes place every three years. The scientific program comprises various formats including lectures, discussions, and more. They are designed to foster dialogue and facilitate the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and experiences between Nobel Laureates and young scientists.

How was the selection process? We hear it was extremely gruelling.

The process is pretty time-consuming. While I was extremely apprehensive I also recognized how significant the opportunity was and that motivated me. I carefully curated and shortlisted my achievements, and highlighted those that aligned with their evaluation parameters. Subsequently, my work was evaluated by eminent scientists, and I had to be very patient during the long waiting period. Finally, I received the gratifying news that I had been selected to attend the Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting. This confirmation validated my hard work, dedication, and contributions to the field of research.

When is the ceremony? How excited are you?

The ceremony is in June 2023 and over 660 scientists worldwide, including Nobel laureates, will attend. I am immensely excited and cannot wait to participate in lectures, sessions, talks, and presentations. Most importantly, I’m honoured to interact with fellow researchers and engage in discussions with renowned scientists. I am equally excited about having the opportunity to meet numerous Nobel laureates at this early stage of my research career. I feel like I’m stepping into a dream world.

The Lindau Nobel laureate committee recognized you for your research on developing innovative biomaterials for cancer theranostics and wound healing. How would you explain your research to a layman?

I thoroughly enjoy experimenting and working with different materials around me.

I design and engineer materials to ensure they serve their intended purpose optimally. I also carefully select the best materials for the task at hand. This involves considering their properties, performance, and suitability for the desired application. I also formulate these materials in a way that not only makes them easily accessible but also allows them to maintain their unique characteristics consistently throughout the testing period. This involves developing precise compositions and manufacturing processes that ensure the materials’ reliability and effectiveness. By approaching material design and engineering in this manner, I strive to create solutions that are both practical and innovative. My goal is to contribute to advancements in various fields by developing materials that meet specific requirements and bring about positive impacts in the real world.

I’m now developing special materials that can be used for two important purposes: cancer treatment and wound healing.

For cancer treatment, these materials have a dual function called “theranostics.” This means they can both diagnose and treat cancer. They are designed to specifically target cancer cells in the body while leaving healthy cells unaffected. The focus is on directing them only to the cancer cells so that these materials can help destroy them and prevent their further growth.

Additionally, biomaterials can be used for wound healing and designed with unique properties that promote faster healing and tissue regeneration. They can provide a protective barrier over the wound, preventing infections and allowing the body to heal more effectively.

The goal of my research is to develop these innovative materials that can be used in medical treatments to improve cancer therapy and enhance the healing process of wounds. By using these advanced biomaterials, we hope to provide better outcomes for patients and contribute to the advancement of medical science.

Can you be more specific about how your research helps the healthcare sector?

Enhanced Cancer Treatment: By focusing on cancer theranostics, my research aims to develop materials that can precisely target cancer cells and deliver medication specifically to those cells. This targeted approach can result in more effective and less harmful cancer treatments, minimizing side effects and improving patient outcomes.

Personalized Medicine: The development of biomaterials for cancer theranostics enables personalized medicine approaches. These materials can be tailored to individual patients, considering their specific type of cancer, its stage, and their unique biological characteristics. This personalized approach holds great promise for improving treatment efficacy and patient experiences.

Wound Healing Advancements: The research also focuses on developing biomaterials that promote a faster and more efficient healing process for wounds. These materials can create an optimal environment for tissue regeneration, preventing infections, and reducing healing time. This advancement in wound healing can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals with chronic wounds, burns, or injuries.

Reduced Healthcare Burden: By improving cancer treatment and wound healing, the research contributes to reducing the overall burden on healthcare systems. More effective cancer therapies may lead to reduced treatment costs and improved patient outcomes, while faster wound healing can decrease hospital stays and associated healthcare expenses.

Economic Impact: The development and utilization of innovative biomaterials can have a positive economic impact. It can stimulate growth in the healthcare sector, foster technological advancements, and create opportunities for industry collaboration and job creation.

Overall, the research on innovative biomaterials for cancer theranostics and wound healing addresses pressing societal needs by improving treatment outcomes, personalizing medicine, reducing healthcare burdens, and contributing to economic growth. It holds the potential to positively impact the lives of individuals worldwide, offering new possibilities for better health and well-being.

Excellent! Can you tell us a little bit about how IIT Bombay’s ecosystem helped you on your journey?

The research facilities at IIT Bombay have played a crucial role in propelling my career forward. They have provided me with a solid foundation and valuable resources to conduct my research. During the initial phase of my work, where I focused on developing novel biomaterials and peptides, meticulous observation and troubleshooting were essential. The availability of state-of-the-art instruments and facilities has been instrumental in my progress, enabling me to delve deep into my work and ensure its success.

Over the years, I have been engaged in various innovative projects with the Tinkerer’s Laboratory at IITB-Stanford USA Design to Disrupt team. Working alongside Dr. Anurag and the esteemed members of IIT Bombay has been a rewarding experience. Their wisdom and expertise have been invaluable. These initiatives not only provide students with opportunities for personal and professional growth but also foster a sense of accomplishment and adaptability.

I am immensely grateful to my professors for their guidance and support throughout this journey. The process of completing a Ph.D. is a transformative experience, and I deeply appreciate the mentorship and wisdom imparted by my professors.

What do you do for fun? What are your hobbies?

Among my favourite pastimes are sports activities, sketching, painting, and gardening. These hobbies and interactions have not only brought joy and fulfilment to my life but have also influenced my outlook on the world. They have instilled in me a deep appreciation for nature, an eagerness to explore and understand its intricacies, and a love for creativity and expression through art.

What does the future hold for you? Do you foresee more of an academic path ahead of you? Or will you work in the industry?

I am resolute in my decision to pursue research and continue my scientific journey. I recall the words of my professor, who advised me to do good, assuring me that goodness will come my way. I am driven by a deep sense of purpose to dedicate my efforts to benefit society. This commitment is not a fleeting sentiment but a genuine desire to make a meaningful impact. By applying my skills, knowledge, and unwavering dedication, I aim to create a positive and lasting impact, honouring the teachings and values instilled in me throughout my journey.



What an outstanding student, Amreen Khan is! Her passion and dedication to developing novel materials that hold the potential to transform cancer treatment and wound healing are truly inspirational. IIT Bombay is delighted that her dedication and ingenuity have not just been recognized but also celebrated by the prestigious Lindau Nobel Laureates, where brilliance and perseverance converge. IIT Bombay cannot wait to see what the future holds for this dynamic and dedicated researcher.

Once again, congratulations, Amreen! Thank you so much for speaking to us and we wish you the very best moving forward.