Cyrus R. Safinya is a Distinguished Professor of Materials at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His home department is Materials in the College of Engineering and he has joint appointments in the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology department, and by courtesy, in the Physics department and the Biomolecular Science and Engineering Program. He received a B.S. in Physics and Mathematics from Bates College (1975) and a PhD in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1981) for his studies on liquid crystal phase transitions in Professor Robert J. Birgeneau’s group (currently Chancellor Emeritus, UC Berkeley and Distinguished Professor of Physics). He joined the Exxon Research & Engineering Company in 1981 working on the structure of complex fluids and biological membranes. He moved to UCSB in 1992. He was a Rothschild Fellow and a Visiting Directeur de Recherche at the Curie Institute in 1994 and a World Class University (WCU) Distinguished Visiting Professor at KAIST (Korean Advanced Institute of Science & Technology) between 2009 and 2013. Dr. Safinya is a Fellow of The American Physical Society (elected 1994) and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (elected 1997).
Safinya’s research revolves around elucidation of structures and interactions in assemblies of biological molecules and soft matter systems, including, liquid crystalline biological matter. Current research is centered on (i) elucidation of interactions/forces between proteins derived from neurons with the goal of relating assembled architectures/structures to function, (ii) development of synthetic carriers of nucleic acids (DNA, RNA) for gene delivery and silencing applications, and (iii) development of lipid-based hydrophobic drug carriers for cancer therapeutics. His group uses modern high-resolution synchrotron x-ray scattering and electron microscopy techniques (cryogenic TEM, plastic embedding) to solve structures in biological matter systems. Safinya is the author or co-author of more than 200 publications (see Cyrus Safinya Google Scholar), which include 10 in Science, 5 in Nature Journals (1 in Nature, 2 in Nature Materials, 2 in Nature Communications), 5 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 5 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and 27 in Physical Review Letters. For a more detailed description please see Safinya Group Website.
Wonder, E. A.; Simón-Gracia, L.; Scodeller, P.; Majzoub, R. M.; Kotamraju, V. R.; Ewert, K. K.; Teesalu, T.; Safinya, C. R.: Competition of Charge-Mediated and Specific Binding by Peptide-Tagged Cationic Liposome–DNA Nanoparticles In Vitro and In Vivo. Biomaterials 2018, 166, 52-63. DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2018.02.052; PMCID: 5944340.
Steffes, V. M.; Murali, M. M.; Park, Y.; Fletcher, B. J.; Ewert, K. K.; Safinya, C. R.: Distinct solubility and cytotoxicity regimes of paclitaxel-loaded cationic liposomes at low and high drug content revealed by kinetic phase behavior and cancer cell viability studies. Biomaterials, 2017, 145, 242-255. DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2017.08.026; PMCID: 5610109.
Majzoub, R. N.; Ewert, K. K.; Safinya, C. R.: Cationic liposome-nucleic acid nanoparticle assemblies with applications in gene delivery and gene silencing. Philosoph. Trans. R. Soc. London, Ser. A 2016, 374, 20150129. DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2015.0129; PMCID: 4920278.
Chung, P. J.; Song, C.; Deek, J.; Miller, H. P.; Li, Y.; Choi, M. C.; Wilson, L.; Feinstein, S. C.; Safinya, C. R.: Tau mediates microtubule bundle architectures mimicking fascicles of microtubules found in the axon initial segment. Nature Communications 2016, 7, 12278. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms12278 ; PMCID: 4962469
Chung, P. J.; Choi, M. C.; Miller, H. P.; Feinstein, H. E.; Raviv, U.; Li, Y.; Wilson, L.; Feinstein, S. L.; Safinya, C. R.: Direct force measurements reveal that protein Tau confers short-range attractions and isoform-dependent steric stabilization to microtubules. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. (PNAS Plus) 2015, 112, E6416-E6425. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1513172112
Ojeda-Lopez, M. A.; Needleman, D. J.; Song, C.; Ginsburg, A.; Kohl, P.; Li, Y.; Miller, H. P.; Wilson, L.; Raviv, U.; Choi, M. C.; Safinya, C. R.: Transformation of taxol-stabilized microtubules into inverted tubulin tubules triggered by a tubulin conformation switch. Nature Materials 2014, 13, 195-203. DOI: 10.1038/NMAT3858.
Deek, J.; Chung, P. J.; Kayser, J.; Bausch, A. R.; Safinya, C. R.: Neurofilament sidearms modulate parallel and crossed-filament orientations inducing nematic to isotropic and re-entrant birefringent hydrogels. Nature Communications 2013, 4, 2224. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3224.
Safinya, C. R.; Ewert, K. K.: Materials chemistry: Liposomes derived from molecular vases. Nature 2012, 489, 372-374 (News & Views article).
Beck, R.; Deek, J.; Jones, J. B.; Safinya, C. R.: Gel Expanded–Gel Condensed Transition in Neurofilament Networks Revealed by Direct Force Measurements. Nature Materials 2010, 9, 40-46.
"Structure of DNA-Cationic Liposome Complexes: DNA Intercalation in Multi-Lamellar Membranes in Distinct Interhelical Packing Regimes", J. O. Raedler, I. Koltover, T. Salditt, C. R. Safinya Science 275, 810-813 (1997).