Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Rita Serda Ph.D.

Rita Serda, Ph.D. 

Rita Serda, Ph.D.

Rita Serda, Ph.D.

Assistant Member
Director, Scanning Electron Microscopy Core
Interim Co-Chair
The Department of Nanomedicine
The Methodist Hospital Research Institute
Director, Scanning Electron Microscopy Core
Faculty Director
The Methodist Hospital Research Institute Academy for Medical Science and Technology

E-mail: reserda@houstonmethodist.org
Phone: 713-441-7315


B.S.   University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM (Physchology/Chemistry)
M.S.   New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM (Chemistry)
Ph.D.   University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)

Postdoctoral Training

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Nanomedicine and Biomedical Engineering, University of
Texas Health Science Center at Houston, TX



Dr. Rita Serda earned her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of New Mexico in 2006. She held faculty appointments at the University of Texas School of Medicine and the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Houston, TX before becoming a member of The Methodist Hospital Research Institute in 2010. Dr. Serda was also an instructor at Central New Mexico Community College in the Chemistry Department. As a member of the Research Institute, Dr. Serda directs the Scanning Electron Microscopy Core and is an interim Co-Chair for the Department of Nanomedicine. While at the University of Texas School of Medicine, Dr. Serda was Co-Director for the Scholarly Concentration in Nanomedicine and Biomedical Sciences program. Currently, Dr. Serda is the Faculty Director of The Methodist Hospital Research Institute Academy for Medical Science and Technology. Dr. Serda is also a member of the Research Institute Scientific Council and The Alliance for NanoHealth.

Description of Research

Dr. Serda’s research program has two main focus areas:  

  1. therapeutic nano-vaccines to elicit anti-tumor immune responses via particle-based presentation of tumor antigens and adjuvants
  2. systemic delivery of therapeutics and imaging agents for cancer applications, with a focus on mechanisms to bypass barriers to transport

Two major obstacles in the field of cancer vaccines are the ineffective delivery of antigens into antigen presenting cells (APCs) and insufficient immune activation.  Nanoparticle technology offers tools to simultaneously present tumor antigens and adjuvants, and a means to enhance their uptake and presentation by APCs.  Dr. Serda’s research team is creating multi-component particles for controlled intracellular trafficking and presentation of tumor antigens and immuno-stimulatory agents.  The particles rapidly accumulate in lymphoid tissue and are avidly internalized by APCs. Research goals include dual-site targeting within single cells for lysosomal and proteosomal delivery of antigens and proteomic analysis of antigens for future development of preventative cancer vaccines.  In current studies, oncoproteins, isolated from extracted tumors, are presented to the host in association with agents that stimulate the an immune response in order to elicit tumor-specific immune responses to eliminate residual and metastatic cancer cells.

Barriers to the transport of therapeutics include the vascular endothelium, interstitial and stromal components, cellular membranes, and intracellular organelles.  Sequential targeting and delivery of agents is achieved by presentation of agents in carrier particles.  We have introduced a new generation of nanocarriers termed Logic-Embedded Vectors (LEVs). LEVs integrate micro- and nano-particles into multi-dimensional functional entities that have the ability to act at multiple levels to bypass biological barriers and deliver therapeutic payloads to desired cell populations and intracellular organelles. Dr. Serda’s research utilizes tissue scanning and transmission electron microscopy to image in vivo transport and cellular interactions with particles.

Major Areas of Research

Cancer nanovaccines, nano-therapeutics, targeting, and cellular trafficking

Recent Publications

Serda RE, Blanco E, Mack A, Stafford SF, Amra S, Li Q., van de Ven A, Tanaka T, Torchilin VP, Wiktorowicz JE, Ferrari M. Proteomic analysis of serum opsonins impacting biodistribution and cellular association of porous silicon microparticles.  Molecular Imaging. 2010;10(1):43-55. 

Ananta JS, Godin B, Sethi R, Moriggi L, Liu X, Serda RE, Krishnamurthy R, Muthupillai R, Bolskar RD, Helm L, Ferrari M, Wilson LJ, Decuzzi P.  Geometrical Confinement of gadolinium-based contrast agents in nanoporous particles enhances T1 contrast.  Nat Nanotechnol. 2010;5:815-821. 

Serda RE, Mack A, van de Ven A, Ferrati S, Dunner K, Godin B, Chiappini C, Landry M, Brousseau L, Liu X, Bean AJ, Ferari M.  Logic-embedded vectors for intracellular partitioning, endosomal escape, and exocytosis of nanoparticles.  Small. 2010;6(23):2691-2700. 

Ferrati S, Mack A, Chiappini C, Liu X, Bean AJ, Ferrari M, Serda RE.  Intracellular trafficking of silicon particles and logic-embedded vectors. Nanoscale. 2010;2(8):1512-1520.

Serda RE, Godin B, Blanco E, Chiappini C, Ferrari M.  Multi-stage delivery nano-particle systems for therapeutic applications.  Biochim Biophys Acta - Gen Subjects. 2010;1810(3):317-329.

Serda RE, Mack A, Pulikkathara M, Zaske AM, Chiappini C, Fakhoury JR, Webb D, Godin B, Conyers JL, Liu X, Bankson J, Ferrari M. Cellular association and assembly of a multistage delivery system.  Small. 2010;6(12):1329-1340.

Godin B, Sakamoto JH, Serda RE, Grattoni A, Bouamrani A, Ferrari M. Emerging applications of nanomedicine for therapy and diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2010;31(5):199-205.

Sakamoto JH, van de Ven AL, Godin B, Blanco E, Serda RE, et al.  Enabling individualized therapy through nanotechnology. Pharmacol Res. 2010;62(2):57-89. 

Godin B, Gu J, Serda RE, Bhavane R, Tasciotti E, Chiappini C, Liu X, Tanaka T, Decuzzi P, Ferrari M.  Tailoring the degradation kinetics of mesoporous silicon structures through PEGylation.   J Biomed Mat Res Part A. 2010;94(4):1236-1243.

Serda RE, Ferrati S, Godin B, Tasciotti E, Liu X, Ferrari M.  Mitotic trafficking of silicon microparticles. Nanoscale. 2009;1(2):250-259.

Serda RE, Gu J, Burks J, Ferrari C, Ferrari, K, Ferrari M.  Quantitative mechanics of endothelial phagocytosis of silicon microparticles. Cytometry Part A. 2009;75(9):752.

Serda RE, Gu J, Bhavane RC, Liu X, Chiappini C, Decuzzi P, Ferrari M. The association of silicon microparticles with endothelial cells in drug delivery to the vasculature. Biomaterials. 2009;30:2440.

Serda RE, Bisoffi M, Thompson TA, Ji M, Omdahl JL, Sillerud LO.  1alpha,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D(3) down-regulates expression of prostate specific membrane antigen in prostate cancer cells.  Prostate. 2008;68(7):773-83. 

Serda RE, Adolphi NL, Bisoffi M, Sillerud LO.  Targeting and cellular trafficking of magnetic nanoparticles for prostate cancer imaging.  Mol Imaging. 2007;6(4):277-88.