Iman Yazdi

Iman Yazdi came to Austin by way of Tehran, Iran, where he completed high school with a focus on physics/math and experimental sciences. When his family relocated to Texas, he decided to attend The University of Texas at Austin because of the prestigious programs in his areas of interest.

As an undergraduate student, he worked in molecular biosciences professor Tanya Paull’s lab. With Dr. Paull, Yazdi worked to understand DNA repair and cell growth as a rational design for next generation personalized medicine for cancer treatment, which was personally important to him since he had family members affected by the disease. Paull's lab focused on cell damage and its place in cancer research, and Yazdi received a Co-Op Undergraduate Research Fellowship to fund his work on researching proteins involved in DNA damage response.

Yazdi initially planned on going to medical school, but ended up pursuing graduate school. Before that, though, he got a taste for working with startups.

During his junior year at UT Austin, he worked with Calcitec, and later, with Apollo Endosurgery, which also sponsored his senior design project. He then applied for academic research positions, which brought him to Dr. Mauro Ferrari's lab, who at the time was part of the BME faculty through a partnership with the University Health Science Center in Houston. After working with Ferrari for a year on drug delivery and biomaterials, he applied to graduate school at the University of Houston and received his PhD from there in 2015. His dissertation was focused on the development of nanostructured materials for drug delivery and tissue engineering applications under co-mentorship of Mauro Ferrari (from Houston Methodist Hospital) and Metin Akay (from the University of Houston).

Yazdi is currently the NIH-NIBIB “Organ Design and Engineering Training Program” T32 fellow at Harvard Medical School. He is co-mentored by Ali Khademhosseini, a former UT Austin Harrington Fellow and visiting professor in BME, and Joseph Bonventre, a chief of the Renal Division and director of the Bioengineering Division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

He says he is passionate about biomedical research because its unique challenges require out-of-the-box approaches that keep him fully engaged with the cycle of learning and developing a deeper understanding. He says one of the main reasons he’s doing research in this field is because of experiences he had at UT Austin.

He reflects on courses that stuck out to him: Biological Transport Phenomena with Ken Diller, Human Physiology with Grady Rylander and Tom Milner and Tissue Engineering with Christine Schmidt (currently at University of Florida).

“I had great interactions with my professors, and I still have a great level of respect for them.”

Yazdi’s next step is to start applying for junior faculty positions and to continue visiting his family who lives in Austin, a place he fell in love with during his time on the Forty Acres.