Who We Are
Sylvia Daunert

Sylvia Daunert

Professor and Lucille P. Markey Chair, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami


Bionanotechnology has spurred the creation of biologically inspired “designer” molecules capable of performing various sophisticated tasks at the nanoscale. Nature has evolved billions years’ worth of highly complex molecules and materials that are manufactured in macromolecular factories located within the cell. Within living cells, we find structure and organization on many scales, self-assembly or spontaneous formation of ordered and/or complex molecular formations that can function as sensing molecules, molecular machines, and even the use of templates in the biosynthesis of DNA and RNA. All of these processes have a molecular recognition component, which provides them with exquisite selectivity and, often, unusual sensitivity. Inspired by the molecular events in nature, our research group designs and develops new bionanotechnology methods, devices and tools based on genetically engineered proteins and cells that can be employed in point-of-care and field applications. Specifically, we employ an array of genetic engineering and biochemical methods to prepare nanoscale biosensors, and molecular diagnostic tools striving to simplify the methodologies employed and make them amenable for use even in remote locations where there are no resources and no access to laboratories and/or equipment. Additionally, the research of the group focuses on the creation of targeted and responsive nanocarrier-based imaging and drug delivery systems capable of delivering the right dose of drug at the right location in the body and at the right time, which present numerous advantages over current state-of-the-art approaches. The developed bionanotechnologies find applications in the environmental and pharmaceutical fields as well as in translational medicine.


Sylvia Daunert, PharmD, MS, PhD, is the Lucille P. Markey Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Miller School of Medicine and the Director of the JT Macdonald Foundation Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute of the University of Miami. Prior to joining the University of Miami, Dr. Daunert was the Gill Eminent Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Daunert was also a Distinguished Professor of the College of Arts & Sciences and a University of Kentucky Research Professor. Among others, she is a Fulbright Scholar, an ELAM Fellow, and the recipient of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry van Slyke Research Award, the National Science Foundation-CAREER Award, the Cottrell-Scholars Award, the Lilly Analytical Faculty Award, the American Chemical Society A. F. Findeis Award, the National Science Foundation Special Creativity Award, the Bill Barfield Award from the Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute, the Albert D. and Elizabeth H. Kirwan Memorial Prize, the Provost’s Award for Scholarly Achievements of the University of Miami, the 2015 WCA Cancer Researcher of the Year Award, the 2018 Florida Cancer Initiative “Sunshine Award” from the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. In 2022 she was honored with a Hispanic Woman of Distinction award. Dr. Daunert’s research focuses on the development of bio-inspired nanotechnologies to solve biomedical and environmental problems. Her group genetically engineers living cells and proteins for environmental detection, molecular sensing, molecular diagnostics, point-of-care tests, biomarker identification, and drug delivery. Additionally, the research of the group focuses on the development of targeted and responsive drug delivery systems. Dr. Daunert’s work has been featured in over 300 publications, patents, and highlighted by the scientific media and popular press. She serves as editor and is a member of editorial and scientific advisory boards of journals, professional societies, as well as governmental organizations, and biotech and pharma companies. Among other international awards and honors. In 2021 she was elected member of the International Academy of Nanotechnology, and in 2022 to the Academy of Sciences of the Institute of Bologna. Dr. Daunert is also an elected member of the Real Academia Nacional de Farmacia of Spain and is an Academic D’Honor of the Reial Acadèmia de Farmàcia de Catalunya. Dr. Daunert received the title of Ilustrísima Doctora and the title of Excelentísima Doctora from the Kingdom of Spain.

Selected Publications

1. S. Seely, J.-M. Zingg, P. Joshi, B. Schlomovitz, M. Schlumbrecht, E. Kobetz, S. Deo, and S. Daunert “Point-of-Care Molecular Test for Human Papillomavirus Detection”, Analytical Chemistry, August 22, 2023. Featured on the cover. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.analchem.3c01723
2. M. Moraskie, Md H. Roshid G. O'Connor, T. Artola Zavala, E. Dikici, J.-M. Zingg, S. Deo, and S. Daunert, “Biosensing System for the Quantitative Detection of DPO (3,5-dimethylpyrazin-2-ol), a Novel Quorum Sensing Molecule”, Biosensors and Bioelectronics, online 21 June 2023, 115494, 2023. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bios.2023.115494
3. Md H. Roshid, M. Moraskie, G. O'Connor, E. Dikici, J.-M. Zingg, S. Deo, L. G. Bachas, and S. Daunert, "A Portable, Encapsulated Microbial Whole-Cell Biosensing System for the Detection of Bioavailable Copper (II) in Soil", Microchemical Journal 193, in press, October 2023, 1090882023, 2023. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.microc.2023.109088 4. J. Hersh, Y-P. Yang, E. Roberts, D. Bilbao, W. Tao, S. Daunert, and S. K. Deo, “Targeted Bioluminescent Imaging of Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Using Nanocarrier-complexed EGFR-binding Affibody-Gaussia Luciferase Fusion Protein”, Pharmaceutics, 15(7), 1976, 2023. https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics15071976 5. N. Peyravian, E. Sun, E. Dikici, S. Deo, S. Daunert, and M. Toborek, “Opioid Antagonist Nanodrugs Successfully Attenuate the Severity of Ischemic Stroke”, Molecular Pharmacology, 19, 2254-2267, 2022. Featured on the cover. doi: 10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.2c00079. 6. G. O’Connor, M.A. Quintero, S. K. Deo, M. T. Abreu, and S. Daunert, “Bacterial Quorum Sensing Molecules in the Serum of Crohn’s Disease Patients: A Potential Tool for Disease Management,” Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology, 13 (12): e00547, 2022. doi: 10.14309/ctg.0000000000000547 7. M. Mascini, E. Dikici, J. Perez-Erviti, S. Deo, D. Compagnone, S. Daunert, “A new class of sensing elements for sensors: Clamp peptides for Zika virus“, Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 191, 113471, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bios.2021.113471 8. D. C. Pawley, S. Goncalves, E. Bas, E. Dikici, S. K. Deo, S. Daunert, and F. Telischi, “Dexamethasone (DXM) Coated Poly (lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) Microneedles as an Improved Drug Delivery System for Intracochlear Biodegradable Devices”, Advanced Therapeutics, 4, 2100155 (1-11), 2021. Featured on the cover. https://doi.org/10.1002/adtp.202100155