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Faculty (Courtesy Appointment), McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, University of Pittsburgh
Visiting Scientist, Carnegie Mellon University
Postdoctoral Fellowship, UCLA School of Medicine
Ph.D., Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Southern California
B.S., Pharmacy, University of Maryland


Dr. Meng graduated from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and practiced in Maryland and California. After receiving his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Southern California, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship (NIH T32 trainee) at the UCLA School of Medicine. He is currently Professor of Pharmaceutics at Duquesne University, with a courtesy appointment at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, University of Pittsburgh. He was a visiting scientist at the Molecular Biosensor and Imaging Center at Carnegie Mellon University. He has served as grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. He is an assistant editor for the Journal of Pharmaceutical Innovation (Springer). He is a member of the pharmacy academic honor society Rho Chi (University of Maryland) and an honorary member of the pharmacy leadership society Phi Lamda Sigma (Duquesne University). He is a recipient of the President's Award for Excellence in Scholarship, an awardee of the University Creative Teaching Award, and an inductee of the University Research Hall of Fame.


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The Meng lab focuses on design and characterization of inspired drug delivery systems for modulating immune functions. The group pursues projects that bridge gaps between preclinical and clinical stages in drug development in enhancing drug bioavailability in diseased tissues while limiting systemic toxicities. The strategic themes are to optimize experimental and approved biologics for locoregional treatments of graft rejection, type I diabetes, and solid tumors. Current research themes include 1) Develop bioaffinity hydrogels formed by self-assembling peptides in delivering immunoregulatory antibodies and Fc fusion proteins, 2) Optimize surface-functionalized microparticles for formulating recombinant proteins, nucleic acids, and poorly water-soluble small molecules as therapeutics, 3) Apply MHC bioinformatics and T cell epitope cross-reactivity mapping in predicting immunogenicity of recombinant protein therapeutics, and 4) Engineer artificial thymic organoids to reprogram T cells.

The Meng group has developed particles that combine the polymer PLGA and the polycation O10H6 as nucleic acid delivery systems (Chamarthy et al, 2003, 2004; Kovacs et al, 2005; Zheng et al, 2006; Jia et al, 2006, 2008; Kovacs et al 2009). The group is testing PLGA-O10H6 particles to deliver the interleukin-10 gene in a mouse transplant model (funded by NIH). In collaboration with Nick Giannoukakis and Yong Fan (Allegheny-Singer Research Institute), the group is developing nanostructures for delivering immune programming factors to delay the onset of type-I diabetes in mice (funded by JDRF and NIH). Working with Lisa Weiland (Pitt) and Eric Freeman (Univ. of Georgia), the group constructed a mathematical model predictive of amine-induced endosomal burst (Freeman et al, 2010, 2012). Together with Mat Saunders and Alan Waggoner at Carnegie Mellon, the group is developing injectable biosensors for drug delivery applications (Saunders et al, 2013 and Liu et al., 2016). The group has a strong interest in MHC bioinfomatics/T cell epitope prediction (Joseph et al, 2007; Andrick et al, 2014 in preparation). More recently, the group has characterized injectable peptidic membranes (functionalized EAK16-II) to extend the accumulation of antibodies locally in vivo (Zheng et al, 2011; Wen et al, 2013, 2014a, 2014b; funded by PA-CURE and NIH R21).

COVID-19 Emergency Competitive Revision for NIH R21 AI139828 (PI: Meng); 7/2/2020-1/31/2021; total award: $47,784
Project title: Development of a Regulatory T Cell Mimetic for Tolerance Induction in Skin

TransplantationNIH R21 AI139828 (PI: Meng); 2/6/2019-1/31/2021; total award: $ $329,820
Project title: Development of a Regulatory T Cell Mimetic for Tolerance Induction in Skin Transplantation

Department of Defense KCRP Concept Award 2018 (PI: Meng): 09/01/2018-08/31/2019; total award: $100,791; Project title: "Generating Systemic Antitumor Immunity in Renal Cell Carcinoma by Intratumoral Injection of Multiplexed Anti-PD-1 Antibody and Adenosine Deaminase"

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation 2-SRA-2016-318-S-B (Co-I: Meng; PI: Nick Giannoukakis of ASRI); 09/01/2016-08/30/2018; Duquesne subaward total: $90,216. Project title: "Tolerogenic Nanoparticle Therapy for Type 1 Diabetes"

NIH R43 AI124783 (Co-I: Meng; PI: Alan Lewis of Diavacs, Inc. San Diego, CA); 07/01/2016-06/30/2017; Duquesne subaward total: $42,215. Project title: "Antisense-Loaded Microsphere Therapy for Autoimmune Diseases."

NIH R21 AI113000 (PI: Meng); 8/1/2014-7/31/2017; total award: $ $319,896
Project title: A Biomaterial Approach to Attenuate Rejection of Skin Allografts

NIH R01 AI123392 (Co-I: Meng; PI: Fan of Allegheny-Singer Research Institute); 01/15/2016-12/31/2019; Duquesne subaward total: $305,828
Project title: Induction of allogeneic tolerance with bioengineered thymus organoids"

JDRF 17-2012-348 (Co-PI: Meng; PI: Giannoukakis of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh); 9/1/2012-8/30/2014; Subcontract award $99,134
Project title: Type 1 Diabetes-Suppressive Microspheres

NIH R15 AI081218 (PI: Meng); 12/1/2010-11/30/2014; total award: $357,100
Project title: Genetic Modification of Antigen-Presenting Cells in Allograft

CURE-Pennsylvania Department of Health (PI: Meng); 1/1/2012-12/31/2013; total award: $53,732
Project Title: A Biomaterial Approach to Inhibit Melanoma Growth and Metastasis in Mice

CURE-Pennsylvania Department of Health (PI: Meng); 1/1/2007-12/31/2010; total award: $35,660
Project Title: Modulation of Antitumor Immunity with Anti-Foxp3 siRNA Nanoparticles

NIH R15 CA97990 (PI: Meng); 03/10/2004-02/28/2008; total award: $192,005
Project title: Rational Design of Peptide-Based Tumor Vaccines

Armen JM, Schueller NR, Velankar KY, Abraham N, Palchesko RN, Fan Y, Meng WS, Gawalt ES. Chemically-Induced Cross-Linking of Peptidic Fibrils for Scaffolding Polymeric Particles and Macrophages. Macromol Biosci 2021(4):e2000350

Phillips BE, Garciafigueroa Y, Engman C, Liu W, Wang Yiwei, Lakomy RJ, Meng WS, Trucco M, Giannoukakis N. Arrest in the Progression of Type 1 Diabetes at the Mid-Stage of Insulitic Autoimmunity Using an Autoantigen-Decorated All- trans Retinoic Acid and Transforming Growth Factor Beta-1 Single Microparticle Formulation. Front Immunol 2021 12:586220.

Meng WS, Salgia NJ, Pham NB, Velankar KY and Pal SK. A drug delivery perspective on intratumoral-immunotherapy in renal cell carcinoma. Urologic Oncology 2020 10:1078

Pham NB and Meng WS. Protein aggregation and immunogenicity of biotherapeutics. International Journal of Pharmaceutics. 2020 30:585

Meng WS, Sahin E, and Wen Y. Developing Biotherapeutics in the New Decade. Journal of Pharmaceutical Innovation 2020 15:201

Liu W, Wong-Noonan S, Pham NB, Pradhan I, Spigelmyer A, Funk R, Nedzesky J, Cohen H, Gawalt ES, Fan Y, Meng WS. "A Genetically Engineered Fc-binding Amphiphilic Polypeptide for Congregating Antibodies in vivo" Acta Biomaterialia, 2019 (in press)

Pham NB, Liu W, Schueller NR, Gawalt ES, Fan Y, and Meng WS. "Toward reducing biomaterial antigenic potential: a miniaturized Fc-binding domain for local deposition of antibodies" Biomaterials Science, 2019 (in press)

Ni Q, Pham NB, Meng WS, Zhu G, and Chen X. "Advances in immunotherapy of type I diabetes" Advanced Drug Delivery Review, 2018 (in press)

Giannoukakis N, Trucco MM, Meng WS; "Particle Formulations of All-trans Retinoic Acid and Transforming Growth Factor Beta for the Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus"; U. S. Patent No. US 10,105,334 B2; Oct. 23, 2018

Meng, WS and Janjic JM. 2017. Book chapter "Principles of Nanomedicine" in "Nanomedicine for Inflammatory Diseases" published by Taylor and Francis and edited by Lara Milane, PhD. and Mansoor Amiji, PhD. (In press)

O'Donnell LA, Meng, WS, Andrick, BJ and Borello, AM. 2016 "A bioinformatics practicum to develop student understanding of immunological rejection of protein drugs" American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. (In press)

Liu W, Saunders MJ, Bagia C, Freeman EC, Yong F, Gawalt ES, Waggoner AS and Meng WS. 2016 "Local Retention of Antibodies In Vivo with an Injectable Film Embedded with a Fluorogen-Activating Protein" Journal of Controlled Release. 2016;230:1-12; *Cover story: Park K, Journal of Controlled Release. 2016; 230:116.

Buckholtz GA, Reger NA, Anderton AD, Schimoler PJ, Roudebush SL, Meng WS, Miller MC, and Gawalt ES. 2016 "Reducing bacteria growth on a composite biomaterial by a surface immobilized antimicrobial peptide" Materials Science and Engineering C, 65:126-134

Tajima A, Liu W, Pradhan I, Bertera S, Lakomy R, Rudert WA, Trucco M, Meng WS and Fan Y. 2016 "Promoting 3-D aggregation of FACS purified thymic epithelial cells with EAK 16-II/EAKIIH6 self-assembling hydrogel" Journal of Visualized Experiment (In press).

Andrick BJ, Schwab AI, Cauley B, O'Donnell LA, and Meng WS. 2015 "Predicting Hemagglutinin MHC-II Ligand Analogues in Anti-TNFα Biologics: Implications for Immunogenicity of Pharmaceutical Proteins." PLoS ONE, 10:e0135451

Giannoukakis N, and Meng WS. 2015 "Nanotherapeutics for autoimmunity becomes mainstream." Clinical Immunology, 160:1-2

Tajima A, Liu W, Pradhan I, Bertera S, Bagia C, Trucco M, Meng WS, Fan Y. 2015 "Bioengineering mini functional thymic units with EAK16-II/EAKIIH6 self-assembling hydrogel." Clinical Immunology, 160: 82-89

Engman C, Wen Y, Meng WS, Bottino R, Trucco M, Giannoukakis N. 2015 "Generation of antigen-specific Foxp3+ regulatory T-cells in vivo following administration of diabetes-reversing tolerogenic microspheres does not require provision of antigen in the formulation." Clinical Immunology, 160: 103-123

Wen Y, Liu W, Bagia C, Zhang S, Bai M, Janjic JM, Giannoukakis N, Gawalt ES, Meng WS. 2014 "Antibody-functionalized peptidic membranes for neutralization of allogeneic skin antigen-presenting cells." Acta Biomaterialia, 10:4759-4767

Wen Y, Roudebush SL, Buckholtz GA, Goehring TR, Giannoukakis N, Gawalt ES, and Meng WS. 2014 "Coassembly of amphiphilic peptide EAK16-II with histidinylated analogues and implications for functionalization of β-sheet fibrils in vivo." Biomaterials, 35:5196-205

Wen Y and Meng WS. 2014 "Recent In Vivo Evidences of Particle-Based Delivery of Small-Interfering RNA (siRNA) into Solid Tumors" Journal of Pharmaceutical Innovation, 9: 158-173

Saunders MJ, Liu W, Szent-Gyorgyi C, Wen Y, Drennen Z, Waggoner AS, and Meng WS. 2013. "Engineering Fluorogen Activating Proteins into Self-Assembling Materials." Bioconjugate Chemistry, 24:803-810

Wen Y, Kolonich HR, Kruszewski KM, Giannoukakis N, Gawalt ES, Meng WS. 2013. "Retaining Antibodies in Tumors with a Self-Assembling Injectable System." Molecular Pharmaceutics. 10:1035-44

Freeman EC, Weiland LM, and Meng WS. 2013. "Modeling the Proton Sponge Hypothesis: Examining Proton Sponge Effectiveness for Enhancing Intracellular Gene Delivery Through Multiscale Modeling." J Biomaterials Science, Polymer Edition, 24:398-416

Balducci A, Wen Y, Zhang Y, Helfer BM, Hitchens TK, Meng WS, Wesa AK, and Janjic JM. 2013. "A Novel Probe for the Non-Invasive Detection of Tumor-Associated Inflammation." Oncoimmunology. 2:e23034

Zheng, Y., Wen, Y., George, A.M., Steinbach, A., Freeman, E., Philips, B., Giannoukakis, N., Weiland, L.M., Gawalt, E.S., and Meng, W.S.* 2011. 'A Peptide-Based Material Platform for Displaying Antibodies to Engage T Cells' Biomaterials, 32, 249-257

Freeman, E.C, Weiland, L.M. & Meng, W.S. 2010 -Application of Proteins in Burst Delivery Systems.' Smart Materials and Structures. 19, 94015-94024

Kovacs, J.R., Tidball, J., Ross, A., Jia, L., Zheng, Y., Gawalt, E.S. and Meng, W.S. 2009 -Characterization of Nickel-Decorated Particles Anchored with a His-tagged Polycation.' Journal of Biomaterials Science, Polymer Edition, 20(9): 1307-1320.

Jia, L, Kovacs, J.R., Zheng, Y., Shen, H., Gawalt, E.S. and Meng, W.S* 2008. 'Expansion of Foxp3-expressing Regulatory T Cells in vitro from Dendritic Cells Engineered with Polymeric Particles Carrying Plasmid Encoding Interleukin-10.' Biomaterials, 29(9):1250-61.

Joseph, M.A., Mitchell, L.M., Evanseck, J.D., Kovacs, J.R., Jia, L., Shen, H., and Meng, W.S.* 2007 'secondary Anchor Substitutions in a HLA-A*0201-Restricted T Cell Epitope Derived from Her-2/neu- Molecular Immunology, 44(4):322-31.

Zheng, Y., Kovacs, J.R., Gawalt, E.S., Shen, H., and Meng, W.S.* 2006. 'Characterization of Particles Fabricated with Poly (D, L-lactic-co-glycolic acid) and an Ornithine-Histidine Peptide as Carriers of Oligodeoxynucleotide for Delivery into Primary Dendritic Cells' Journal of Biomaterials Science, Polymer Edition, 17(12): 1389-1403.

Jia, L., Kovacs, J.R., Zheng, Y., Gawalt, E.S., Shen, H., and Meng, W.S.* 2006. 'Attenuated Alloreactivity of Dendritic Cells Engineered with Surface-Modified Microspheres Carrying a Plasmid Encoding Interleukin-10.' Biomaterials, 27(9):2076-2082.

Meng, W.S.*and Butterfield, L.H. 2005. 'Activation of Antigen-Presenting Cells by DNA Delivery Vectors.' (Review) Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy, 5(8), 1019-1028.

Kovacs, J.R., Zheng, Y., Shen, H., and Meng, W.S.* 2005. 'Polymeric Microspheres as Stabilizing Anchors for Oligonucleotide Delivery to Dendritic Cells.' Biomaterials, 26(33), 6754-61.

Liao, Y-P., Wang, C-C., Butterfield, L.H., Economou, J.S., Ribas, A., Meng, W.S., Iwamoto, K.S., and McBride, W.H. 2004. 'Ionizing Radiation Affects Human MART-1 Melanoma Antigen Processing and Presentation by Dendritic Cells.' Journal of Immunology, 173, 2462-2469.

Chamarthy, S.P., Jia, L., Kovacs, J.R., Anderson, K.R., Shen, H., Firestine, S.M., and Meng, W.S.* 2004. 'Gene Delivery to Dendritic Cells Facilitated by a Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha-Competing Peptide.' Molecular Immunology, 41 (8), 741-749.

Butterfield, L.H., Ribas, A., Meng, W.S., Dissette, V.B., Amarnani, S. Vu, H.T., Seja, E., Todd, K., Glaspy, J.A., McBride W.H. and Economou, J.S. 2003. 'T Cell Responses To HLA-A*0201 Immunodominant Peptides Derived From Alpha Fetoprotein in Patients with Hepatocellular Cancer.' Clinical Cancer Research, 9(16), 5902-5908.

Chamarthy, S.P., Kovacs, J.R., Gattens, D., McClelland, E., and Meng, W.S.*. 2003. 'A Cationic Peptide Consists of Ornithine and Histidine Repeats Augments Gene Transfer in Dendritic Cells.' Molecular Immunology, 40 (8), 479-486.

Meng, W.S.* and Butterfield, L.H. 2002. 'Rational Design of Peptide-Based Tumor Vaccines.' (Review) Pharmaceutical Research. 19 (7): 926-932.

Meng, W.S., Butterfield, L.H., Ribas, A., Dissette, V., Heller, J.B., Miranda, G.A., Glaspy, J.A., McBride, W.H. and Economou, J.S. 2001. 'Alpha Fetoprotein-Specific Tumor Immunity Induced by Plasmid Prime-Adenovirus Boost Genetic Vaccination.' Cancer Research, 61 (24): 8782.

Ribas, A., Butterfield, L.H., Amarnani, S., Dissette, V.B., Kim, D., Meng, W.S., Miranda, G.A., Wang, H-J., McBride, W.H., Glaspy, J.A., and Economou, J.S. 2001. 'CD40L Crosslinking Bypasses the Absolute Requirement for CD4 Cells During Immunization with Melanoma Antigen Gene-Modified Dendritic Cells.' Cancer Research. 61 (24):8787.

Meng, W.S., Butterfield, L.H., Ribas, A., Heller, J.B., Dissette, V., Glaspy, J.A., McBride, W.H. and Economou, J.S. 2001. 'Fine specificity analysis of an HLA-A*0201-restricted immunodominant peptide derived from human alpha-fetoprotein.' Molecular Immunology, 2001. vol. 37, 943-950.

Butterfield, L.H., Meng, W.S., Koh, A., Vollmer, C.M., Ribas, A., Dissette, V., Lee, E., Faull, K., Glaspy, J.A., McBride, W.H. and Economou, J.S. 2001. 'Generation of human T-cell responses to strong binding HLA-A2.1-restricted peptide epitopes derived from alpha-fetoprotein.' Journal of Immunology, vol. 166, 5300-5309.

Meng, W.S., von Grafenstein, H., and Haworth, I.S. 2000. 'Water Dynamics at the interface of four different MHC-peptide complexes.' International Immunology, vol. 12, no. 7, 949-957.

Meng, W.S., Bui, H-H., and Haworth, I.S. 2000. 'Exploiting the Peptide-MHC Water Interface in the Computer-Aided Design of Non-Natural Peptides that Bind to the Class I MHC Molecule HLA-A2.' Molecular Simulation, vol. 24, 215-228.

Ribas, A., Butterfield, L.H., Hu, B, Dissette, V.B., Meng, W.S., Koh, A., Andrews, K.J., Lee, M., Amar, S.N., Glaspy, J.A., McBride, W.H., and Economou, J.S. 2000. 'Immune deviation and Fas-mediated deletion limit antitumor activity after multiple dendritic cell vaccinations in mice.' Cancer Research, vol. 60, n.8: 2218-2224.

Gurlo, T., Meng, W.S., Bui, H-H., Haworth, I.S. and von Grafenstein, H. 1999. 'Experimental Evidence for the Presence of a Water Network at the Peptide-MHC Interface.' Immunology Letters, vol. 70:139-41.

Butterfield, L.H., Koh, A., Meng, W., Vollmer, C.M., Ribas, A., Dissette, V., Lee, E., Glaspy, J.A., McBride, W.H. and Economou, J.S. 1999. 'Generation of human T-cell responses to an HLA-A2.1-restricted peptide epitope derived from alpha-Fetoprotein.' Cancer Research, vol.59, n.13: 3134-3142.

Meng, W.S., Bhavaraju, A.V., Haworth, I.S. and von Grafenstein, H. 1998. 'Modeling of the Non-Obese Diabetic Mouse Class II MHC Molecule I-Ag7.' Protein and Peptide Letters, vol. 5, No. 2, 75-82.

Meng W.S., von Grafenstein, H. and Haworth, I.S. 1997. 'A Model of Water Structure Inside the HLA-A2 Peptide Binding Groove.' International Immunology, vol 9, No. 9, 1339-1346.

Meng W.S., Gallaher, T.K., von Grafenstein, H. and Haworth, I.S. 1996. 'sequence Dependent Conformational Motion of a Peptide Bound to a Class I MHC Molecule.' Protein and Peptide Letters, vol. 3, No. 1, 51-58.

Pharmaceutical Science and Practice of Immunization

Pharmaceutical Principles and Drug Delivery Systems II

Biomedical Sciences and Therapeutics: Oncology, Drug Hypersensitivities and Transplant Pharmacology

Human Physiology and Pathophysiology: Hematology and Immunology (coordinator)

Advanced Pharmaceutics: Pharmaceutical Biotechnology (coordinator): protein stability and formulation, biosimilars

Advanced Pharmacology (coordinator)

Drug Mechanisms and Actions

Methods in Pharmacology and Toxicology

Continuing Education (ACPE accredited): Pharmacogenetics for Pharmacists