Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology

Norma C. Adragna, Ph.D., Interim Chair

Dr. Hussain

Saber M. Hussain, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Senior Scientist, Human Effectiveness Directorate
711th Human Performance Wing
Air Force Research Laboratory
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH 45433

(937) 904-9517


Ph.D., Biology, Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India, 1991

Professional Recognition

Academy of Toxicological Sciences Fellow
Air Force Research Laboratory Fellow
Associate Editor of Toxicological Sciences

Current Students

2 Research associates
2 Junior scientists
2 Post-doctoral fellows
3 Ph.D. students
2 Master’s students
2 Undergraduate students

Research Focus

Lead Scientist, responsible for the development, direction, and performance of state-of-the-art research in the emerging areas of nanobiotechnology, nanotoxicity, and nanomaterial synthesis and characterization. Current research efforts are focused on elucidating the biological response and application potential of engineered nanomaterials (ENM), in the range of 1-100 nm, with novel physical and chemical properties. These physico-chemical properties emanate from interfacial features at the nano-scale and result in distinct electrical, mechanical, optical, and magnetic characteristics that are unique from their bulk counterparts. Fundamental studies currently underway involve nanomaterial interactions with living systems including,in vitro and in vivo studies, intracellular fate of; uptake, translocation, distribution, and potential toxicity. This research will facilitate a better understanding of the nano-cellular interface, provide in-depth analyses of adverse effects on in vivo biological systems, and enable development of theoretical aspects of predictive bio-response models. The research premise will aid in novel nanobiotechnology and nanotoxicology model development and thus enable safe implementation of nanomaterial products.

Following are the specific research foci:

  • Characterization of Nanomaterials: Systematic evaluation of the role of physico-chemical properties in nano-bio interactions. Key physico-chemical parameters under investigation include: chemical and physical attributes of particles (i.e crystal structure and composition), dynamic evaluation of particle size and its distribution, aggregate structure configuration, unique particle shape, surface area of the primary and agglomerated particles, intracellular agglomeration/de-agglomeration status, and surface chemistry. Novel research topic involves investigation of dynamic aggregation and aggregate structure conformation and their impact on receptor response and biomolecule regulation. Instrument: dynamic light scattering, static light scattering UV-Vis, dark field imaging, electron microscopy, electron tomography.
    Caracterization of Nanomaterials
  • Cellular translocation of Nanomaterials: Uptake and translocation of nanomaterials in cells will be assessed by electron microscopy. The EDX will be applied to characterize NM once evaluated by TEM. Furthermore, mass spectroscopy techniques will be used to quantify NM uptake. Instrument: ICP-MS, Cytoviva imaging, confocal microscopy, SEM, TEM, and AFM.etc.
  • Ionic dissolution of Nanomaterials: TFF Separation of Ions versus NM. By separating the physical NMs from the generated ions, it is possible to correlate observed bioresponses to their underlying cause. A highly advanced system that combines tangential flow and ICP-MS for the systematic separation and quantification of particles is in place to facilitate this research aim.
  • Enhanced in vitro models: Development of highly sensitive in vitro co-culture cell-based models to evaluate toxicity mechanisms of nanomaterials that involve biochemical and molecular consequences, to predict in vivo biological responses to nanomaterials. Each of the following co-culture models contain the functional cells for the tissue as well as the immune cells that would be present in vivo, which would be immunostimulated by the presence of the NM:
    • Lung co-culture model containing alveolar epithelial and macrophage cells
    • Neuronal co-culture consisting of neurons and microglia
    • BBB model which employs astrocytes and endothelial cells grown on transwell chambers which have a basal and apical cell layer.
  • Molecular Signaling:
    • Gene Expression Studies: Assessment of in-depth biological responses through target gene analyses and gene expressions in response to emerging nanomaterials and chemicals employing: quantitative-reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (qRT/PCR), enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs), western blotting, and fluorescent-based assays.
    • Cellular Signaling Modulation via NMs through indirect and direct effects. Nanomaterials have been shown to alter signaling pathways in the cell indirectly following exposure. Through evaluating these modifications, it is possible to identify key cellular responses that may be fundamentally altered following NM introduction. Furthermore, NMs functionalized with key bio-moleucles can be used to target specific signaling receptors and mediator proteins to enhance or diminish a signaling response. Techniques: ELISA, western blot analysis, immunofluorescence.
  • Synergistic effects of NMs in conjunction with an external, non-invasive field: As NMs possess unique properties, it is highly probable that when they encounter an external field, such as radio-frequency, electromagnetic, or laser, that their enhanced surface energy and reactivity will produce a distinct effect. One major research thrust is to evaluate if simultaneous cellular exposure to NMs and an external field would produce synergistic cellular outcomes, evaluating endpoints on an entire cellular population, protein, and genetic level.

Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications

(Total articles:>100; total citations:3,726; h-index: 30; i-10 index: 56)

  1. Kristen K. Comfort, Elizabeth I. Maurer, Saber M. Hussain. The Biological Impact of Concurrent Exposure to Metallic Nanoparticles and a Static Magnetic Field. Bioelectromagnetics (in press).
  2. Monita Sharma, Rick Salisbury, Elizebeth Maurer, Saber Hussian, and Courtney Sulentic. Gold nanoparticles induce transcriptional activity of NF-?B in a B-lymphocyte cell line. Nanoscale (in press).
  3. Maurer EI, Comfort KK, Hussain SM, Schlager JJ, and Mukhopadhyay SM. (2012) Novel Platform Development Using an Assembly of Carbon Nanotube, Nanogold and Immobilized RNA Capture Element towards Rapid, Selective Sensing of Bacteria. Sensors, 12, 8135-8144
  4. Trickler W J , Lantz S M , Schrand A M , Robinson B L , Newport G D , Schlager JJ, Paule MG, Slikker W, Biris AS, Hussain SM. (2012) Effects of copper nanoparticles on rat cerebral microvessel endothelial cells. Nanomedicine, 7, 835-846.
  5. Schaeublin N, Braydich-Stolle LK, Maurer EI, Park K, Maccuspie RI, Afrooz AN, Saleh NB, Vaia RA, Hussain SM. (2012) Does Shape Matter? Bioeffects of Gold Nanomaterials in a Human Skin Cell Model. Langmuir, 28, 3248-3258.
  6. Comfort KK, Maurer E I, Braydich-Stolle LK, and Hussain SM. (2011) Interference of Silver, Gold, and Iron Oxide Nanoparticles on Epidermal Growth Factor Signal Transduction in Epithelial Cells. ACS Nano, 5, 10000-10008.
  7. Posgai R, Cipolla-McCulloch CB, Murphy KR, Hussain SM, Rowe JJ, Nielsen MG. (2011) Differential toxicity of silver and titanium dioxide nanoparticles on Drosophila melanogaster development, reproductive effort, and viability: Size, coatings and antioxidants matter. Chemosphere, 85, 34-42.
  8. Zhang Q, Hitchins VM, Schrand AM, Hussain SM, Goering PL. (2011) Uptake of gold nanoparticles in murine macrophage cells without cytotoxicity or production of pro-inflammatory mediators. Nanotoxicology, 5, 284-295.
  9. Grabinski CM, Schaeublin NM, Wijaya A, D'Couto H, Baxamusa SH, Hamad-Schifferli K, Hussain SM. (2011) Effect of Gold Nanorod Surface Chemistry on Cellular Response. ACS Nano, 5, 2870-2879.
  10. Castle AB, Gracia-Espino E, Nieto-Delgado C, Terrones H, Terrones M, Hussain S. (2011) Hydroxyl-functionalized and N-doped multiwalled carbon nanotubes decorated with silver nanoparticles preserve cellular function. ACS Nano, 5, 2458-2566.
  11. Schaeublin NM, Braydich-Stolle LK, Schrand AM, Miller JM, Hutchison J, Schlager JJ, and Hussain SM. (2011) Surface Charge of Gold Nanoparticles Mediates Mechanism of Toxicity. Nanoscale, 3, 410-20.
  12. Schrand, AM, Lin, JB, Ciftan H, and Hussain SM. (2010) Temporal and Mechanistic Tracking of Cellular Uptake Dynamics with Novel Surface Fluorophore-bound Nanodiamonds. Nanoscale, 3, 435-445.
  13. Braydich-Stolle LK, Speshock JL, Castle AB, Smith M, Murdock RC, and Hussain SM. (2010) Nanosized aluminum altered immune function. ACS Nano, 4, 3661-3670
  14. Schrand AM, Schlager JJ, Dai L, Hussain SM. (2010) Preparation of cells for assessing ultrastructural localization of nanoparticles with transmission electron microscopy. Nature Protocols, 5, 744-757.
  15. Braydich-Stolle LK, Lucas B, Schrand AM, Murdock RC, Lee T, Schlager JJ, Hussain SM and Hofmann M. (2010) Silver nanoparticles disrupt GDNF/Fyn kinase signaling in spermatogonial stem cells. Toxicological Sciences, 116, 577-589.
  16. Hussain SM, Braydich-Stolle LK, Schrand AM, Murdock RC, Yu KO, Mattie DM, Schlager JJ, and Terrones M. (2009) Toxicity Evaluation for Safe Use of Nanomaterials: Recent Achievements and Technical Challenges. Advanced Materials, 21, 1549-1559.
  17. Eby D, Schaeublin N, Farrington K, Hussain SM, Johnson, G. (2009) Lysozyme Catalyzes the Formation of Antimicrobial Silver Nanoparticles. ACS Nano, 3, 984-994.
  18. Carlson C, Hussain SM, Schrand A, Braydich-Stolle L, Hess K, Jones R and Schlager J. (2008) Unique cellular interaction of silver nanoparticles: size dependent generation of reactive oxygen species. J Phys Chem B, 112, 13608-13619.
  19. Murdock RC, Braydich-Stolle L, Schrand AM, Schlager JJ and Hussain SM. (2007) Characterization of nanomaterial dispersion in solution prior to in vitro exposure using dynamic light scattering technique. Toxicological Sciences, 101, 239-253.

For Prospective Students and Post-docs

  1. Are you interested in pursuing an advanced degree in biology, chemistry, or engineering with specific emphasis on nanotechology?
  2. Are you a U.S. citizen or do you have a permanent residency?
  3. Do you enjoy working both on individual and group projects?
  4. Are you highly motivated and self-directed?
  5. Would you be willing to work weekends if experiments demand?
  6. Do you have the motivation to publish your findings in high IF journals?

If you answered yes to all of the above questions, you have the potential to excel in Dr. Saber Hussain’s research group and should send your CV to Please include your name, major, phone number, email address, education including relevant courses taken, GPA, research experience, extracurricular activities, a brief paragraph explaining why you are interested in pursuing research and your interest in nanotechnology, and a list of scientific publications and presentations.

Master's, Doctoral and Postdoctoral Research Opportunities