Meet the Scholars

Updated: December 3, 2015

Fatima Khatib Khaja

Fatima Khatib Khaja

CBC Scholar: Class of 2013
PhD Candidate, Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Advisor: Hayat Onyuksel




Over the past decade small interfering RNA (siRNA) have been considered a potent tool for modulating gene expression and offer great potential for controlling intracellular processes for the treatment of cancer and other devastating diseases. However the naked siRNA molecule is susceptible to serum nucleases, renal clearance, and wide biodistribution in its non-targeted form. These reasons collectively have continuously limited its application beyond preclinical studies.

My research focus is to develop a targeted siRNA nanomedicine that will address these delivery issues, using naturally occurring chemicals such as phospholipids and peptides. Our novel siRNA carrier will be applied for the treatment of liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, as a disease model, which is a devastating condition resulting as a consequence of chronic liver injury and have no approved treatment other than liver transplant. Our siRNA nanomedicine is expected to knockdown the over-expression of CTGF, which will result in the degradation of fibrous ECM and reverse the activation of hepatic stellate cells to stop and reverse the progression of fibrosis.



Khaja F, Kuzmis A, Onyuksel H. CTGF siRNA-Nanomedicine; A Potential Treatment for Renal Fibrosis, 41st Annual CRS conference proceedings. 2014. (

Khaja F, Kuzmis A, Onyuksel H. A Novel Targeted siRNA-Nanomedicine for Liver Fibrosis, 40th Annual CRS conference proceedings. 2013. (

Gülçür E, Thaqi M, Khaja F, Kuzmis A, Onyüksel H. Curcumin in VIP-targeted sterically stabilized phospholipid nanomicelles: a novel therapeutic approach for breast cancer and breast cancer stem cells. Drug Deliv Transl Res. 2013 Dec;3(6). (PubMed)

Khaja F, Onyuksel H. A Novel Targeted siRNA Nanomedicine: Galactosamine Conjugated Sterically Stabilized Phospholipid Nanoparticles for siRNA Delivery. The AAPS Journa. 2012l 14(S2). (APPS)

Khaja FA, Koo OM, Önyüksel H. Nanomedicines for inflammatory diseases. Methods Enzymol. 2012;508:355-75. (PubMed)

Vuković L*, Khatib FA*, Drake SP, Madriaga A, Brandenburg KS, Král P, Onyuksel H. Structure and dynamics of highly PEG-ylated sterically stabilized micelles in aqueous media. J Am Chem Soc. 2011 Aug 31;133(34):13481-8. (*shared first authorship) (PubMed)

Raddi P, Nagalingaswamy VP, Khatib F, Wang Y, Chandra S. A Comparison of Interpleural Bupivacaine and Intravenous Pethidine for Postoperative Pain Relief Following Open Cholecystectomy. Archives of Medical Science. 2009 5, 1: 57-62. (AMS)



  • Chicago Biomedical Consortium (CBC) Scholar, 2013-2014
  • American Foundation of Pharmaceutical Education Fellowship, Sep. 2012
  • UIC Graduate College Dean’s Scholar, Sep. 2012
  • W.E. Van Doren Scholar Award, Mar. 2012
  • UIC Graduate College Student Presenter Award, Jan. 2012
  • UIC Chancellor’s Graduate Research Fellowship , 2010-2011


  • Member of Phi Kappa Phi honor Society, initiated in April. 2012
  • Member of Rho Chi Pharmaceutical Honor Society, initiated in April. 2011
  • Clinic pharmacist volunteer of the month, Community Health Clinic, Aug. 2011


  • Judge, Chicago Public Schools Student Science Fair, March 2013
  • Chair of Pharmaceutics Graduate Student Research Meeting (PGSRM-2014) planning committee, Aug. 2012-present
  • BPS Graduate Student Representative (UIC Graduate Student Council), Aug. 2011- present
  • Volunteer pharmacist, Feb. 2009-present