Meet the Scholars

Updated: December 3, 2015

Kelan Hlavaty

Kelan Hlavaty

CBC Scholar: Class of 2013
PhD Candidate, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Northwestern University, Advisor: Lonnie Shea



I am currently working under the direction of Lonnie Shea and am investigating islet transplantation and allogeneic immune responses. In cell and organ transplantations, donor tissue is commonly derived from an allogeneic source, initiating an adverse immune response and rejection by the host immune system. Consequently, life-long immunosuppressive therapies are necessary to delay graft rejection. Unfortunately, these therapies result in toxic effects on transplanted cells and an increased risk for infections. My work aims to generate a method to induce donor-specific tolerance using PLG nanoparticles containing donor antigens. I will show this through transplanting islets to treat type 1 diabetes mellitus, an autoimmune disorder in which the body destroys the insulin-producing (β) islet cells of the pancreas. My goal is to create a biodegradable, cell-free product for indefinite protection of allogeneic islet grafts and understand the fundamental mechanisms of tolerance induction.



Hlavaty KA, McCarthy DP, Saito E, Yap WT, Miller SD, Shea LD. Tolerance induction using nanoparticles bearing HY peptides in bone marrow transplantation. Biomaterials. 2016 Jan;76:1-10. (PubMed)

Hlavaty KA, Luo X, Shea LD, Miller SD. Cellular and molecular targeting for nanotherapeutics in transplantation tolerance. Review. Clin Immunol. 2015 Sep;160(1):14-23. (PubMed)

Bryant J, Hlavaty KA, Zhang X, Yap WT, Zhang L, Shea LD, Luo X. Nanoparticle delivery of donor antigens for transplant tolerance in allogeneic islet transplantation. Biomaterials. 2014 Oct;35(31):8887-94. (PubMed)

Hlavaty KA, Gibly RF, Zhang X, Rives CB, Graham JG, Lowe WL Jr, Luo X, Shea LD. Enhancing Human Islet Transplantation by Localized Release of Trophic Factors From PLG Scaffolds. Am J Transplant. 2014 Jul;14(7):1523-32. (PubMed)

Seidlits SK, Hlavaty KA, Shea LD. DNA delivery for regeneration. In: Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine. ed. P.X. Ma. Cambridge University Press. Jul 2014. (

Niu W, Hlavaty K, Tanska D, Tseng N, Li J, Penprase B. Simulating Ultra-wideband Imaging for the Early Detection of Tissue Injury. Proc. of SPIE (Medical Imaging 2009), vol. 7258, 725813, DOI:10.1117/12.813898, Orlando, FL, Feb. 2009. (SPIE)



  • Chicago Biomedical Consortium (CBC) Scholar, 2013 – 2014
  • Science Club Mentor, McCormick Boys and Girls Club Chicago, September 2012 – Present
  • Honorable Mention, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, April 2012
  • Northwestern Biotechnology Training Grant, funded by the NIH, Trainee, September 2011 – Present