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Rita Serda, PhD

Associate Affiliate Member, Research Institute
Houston Methodist


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 Houston Methodist Research Institute in 2010. Dr. Serda was also an instructor at Central New Mexico Community College in the Chemistry Department. While at the Research Institute, Dr. Serda directed the Scanning Electron Microscopy Core and was 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. 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: 

-Therapeutic nano-vaccines to elicit anti-tumor immune responses via particle-based presentation of tumor antigens and adjuvants
-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.

Areas Of Expertise

Cancer nanovaccines Nano-therapeutics targeting Cellular trafficking
Education & Training

, Department of Nanomedicine and Biomedical Engineering, University of Texas Health Science Center
, New Mexico State University
, The University of New Mexico

A recellularized human colon model identifies cancer driver genes
Chen, HJ, Wei, Z, Sun, J, Bhattacharya, A, Savage, DJ, Serda, R, Mackeyev, Y, Curley, SA, Bu, P, Wang, L, Chen, S, Cohen-Gould, L, Huang, E, Shen, X, Lipkin, SM, Copeland, NG, Jenkins, NA & Shuler, ML 2016, Nature Biotechnology, vol 34, no. 8, pp. 845-851. DOI:

A specifically designed nanoconstruct associates, internalizes, traffics in cardiovascular cells, and accumulates in failing myocardium: A new strategy for heart failure diagnostics and therapeutics
Ruiz-Esparza, GU, Segura-Ibarra, V, Cordero-Reyes, AM, Youker, KA, Serda, RE, Cruz-Solbes, AS, Amione-Guerra, J, Yokoi, K, Kirui, DK, Cara, FE, Paez-Mayorga, J, Flores-Arredondo, JH, Guerrero-Beltrán, CE, Garcia-Rivas, G, Ferrari, M, Blanco, E & Torre-Amione, G 2016, European Journal of Heart Failure, vol 18, no. 2, pp. 169-178. DOI:

Reduced cationic nanoparticle cytotoxicity based on serum masking of surface potential
McConnell, KI, Shamsudeen, S, Meraz, IM, Mahadevan, TS, Ziemys, A, Rees, P, Summers, HD & Serda, RE 2016, Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology, vol 12, no. 1, pp. 154-164. DOI:

A multi-scale FE model for convective-diffusive drug transport within tumor and large vascular networks
Kojic, M, Milosevic, M, Kojic, N, Starosolski, Z, Ghaghada, K, Serda, R, Annapragada, A, Ferrari, M & Ziemys, A 2015, Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering, vol 294, pp. 100-122. DOI:

A new imaging platform for visualizing biological effects of non-invasive radiofrequency electric-field cancer hyperthermia
Corr, SJ, Shamsudeen, S, Vergara, LA, Chak-Shing Ho, J, Ware, MJ, Keshishian, V, Yokoi, K, Savage, DJ, Meraz, IM, Kaluarachchi, W, Cisneros, BT, Raoof, M, Nguyen, DT, Zhang, Y, Wilson, LJ, Summers, H, Rees, P, Curley, SA & Serda, RE 2015, PLoS ONE, vol 10, no. 8, e0136382. DOI:

Silencing of tumor necrosis factor receptor-1 in human lung microvascular endothelial cells using particle platforms for siRNA delivery
Bai, L, Andersson, HA, McConnell, KI, Chan, DL, Hernandez, M, Gonzalez, J, Liu, X, Francesca, SL, Sakamoto, JH & Serda, RE 2015, Current Drug Targets, vol 16, no. 13, A013, pp. 1531-1539.

Silencing of tumor necrosis factor receptor-1 in human lung microvascular endothelial cells using particle platforms for siRNA delivery
Bai, L, Andersson, HA, McConnell, KI, Chan, DL, Hernandez, M, Gonzalez, J, Liu, X, Francesca, SL, Sakamoto, JH & Serda, RE 2015, Current Drug Targets, vol 16, no. 13, A013, pp. 1531-1539.

Enhanced gene delivery in porcine vasculature tissue following incorporation of adeno-associated virus nanoparticles into porous silicon microparticles
McConnell, KI, Rhudy, J, Yokoi, K, Gu, J, Mack, A, Suh, J, La Francesca, S, Sakamoto, J & Serda, RE 2014, Journal of Controlled Release, vol 194, pp. 113-121. DOI:

Adjuvant cationic liposomes presenting MPL and IL-12 induce cell death, suppress tumor growth, and alter the cellular phenotype of tumors in a murine model of breast cancer
Meraz, IM, Savage, DJ, Segura-Ibarra, V, Li, J, Rhudy, J, Gu, J & Serda, RE 2014, Molecular Pharmaceutics, vol 11, no. 10, pp. 3484-3491. DOI:

Analysis of the influence of cell heterogeneity on nanoparticle dose response
Ware, MJ, Godin, B, Singh, N, Majithia, R, Shamsudeen, S, Serda, RE, Meissner, KE, Rees, P & Summers, HD 2014, ACS Nano, vol 8, no. 7, pp. 6693-6700. DOI:

Multivalent presentation of MPL by porous silicon microparticles favors T helper 1 polarization enhancing the anti-tumor efficacy of doxorubicin nanoliposomes
Meraz, I, Hearnden, CH, Liu, X, Yang, M, Williams, L, Savage, DJ, Gu, J, Rhudy, JR, Yokoi, K, Lavelle, EC & Serda, RE 2014, PLoS ONE, vol 9, no. 4, e94703. DOI:

HSP70 promoter-driven activation of gene expression for immunotherapy using gold nanorods and near infrared light
Andersson, HA, Kim, Y-S, ONeill, BE, Shi, Z-Z & Serda, RE 2014, Vaccines, vol 2, no. 2, pp. 216-27. DOI:

Characterization of Free and Porous Silicon-Encapsulated Superparamagnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticles as Platforms for the Development of Theranostic Vaccines
Lundquist, CM, Loo, C, Meraz, IM, Cerda, JDL, Liu, X & Serda, RE 2014, Medical sciences : open access journal, vol 2, no. 1, pp. 51-69. DOI:

Cellular communication via nanoparticle-transporting biovesicles
Ferrati, S, Mcconnell, KI, Mack, AC, Sirisaengtaksin, N, Diaz, R, Bean, AJ, Ferrari, M & Serda, RE 2014, Nanomedicine, vol 9, no. 5, pp. 581-592. DOI:

Optical tracking of drug release from porous silicon delivery vectors
Tonkin, JA, Shamsudeen, S, Brown, MR, Serda, RE, Rees, P & Summers, HD 2014, IET Optoelectronics, vol 8, no. 2, pp. 113-116. DOI:

Porous silicon-superparamagnetic iron oxide complexes and impact on negative contrast enhancement in mri
Lundquist, CM, Loo, CH, Mack, A, Gu, J, Bankson, JA & Serda, RE 2013, . in ASME 2013 2nd Global Congress on NanoEngineering for Medicine and Biology, NEMB 2013., NEMB2013-93065, ASME 2013 2nd Global Congress on NanoEngineering for Medicine and Biology, NEMB 2013, Boston, MA, United States, 4-6 February. DOI:

Porous silicon advances in drug delivery and immunotherapy
Savage, DJ, Liu, X, Curley, SA, Ferrari, M & Serda, RE 2013, Current Opinion in Pharmacology, vol 13, no. 5, pp. 834-841. DOI:

Biological microniches characterizing pathological lesions. Impact on nanoparticle-based delivery of therapeutics.
Meraz, IM, Segura-Ibarra, V, Leonard, F, Gonzalez, J, Ally, S, Godin, B & Serda, RE 2013, Frontiers of Nanoscience, vol 5, pp. 139-173. DOI:

Particle platforms for cancer immunotherapy
Serda, RE 2013, International Journal of Nanomedicine, vol 8, pp. 1683-1696. DOI:

Diffusion transport of nanoparticles at nanochannel boundaries
Mahadevan, TS, Milosevic, M, Kojic, M, Hussain, F, Kojic, N, Serda, R, Ferrari, M & Ziemys, A 2013, Journal of Nanoparticle Research, vol 15, no. 3, 1477. DOI: