Walid Abdelwahab

Research Assistant Professor


Personal Summary

Walid completed his M.Sc. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Cairo University (School of Pharmacy, Egypt) then he received a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Georgia State University (Department of Chemistry, Atlanta, U.S.) in 2017. After that he joined the Center of Translational Medicine of the University of Montana in 2018 where he undertook a post-doctoral training in Vaccine Design and Delivery in Dr. Burkhart`s lab. Walid has research experience in conventional formulation development and nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems as well as extensive analytical chemistry experience. Previously, he worked as an instructor of pharmaceutical chemistry laboratories. His current research focuses on the discovery and development of advanced vaccine formulations for novel synthetic pattern recognition receptor (CLR and TLR) ligands (adjuvants) to promote long-term immunity to serious infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, influenza (flu), and COVID-19 as well as developing next-generation immunomodulators to fight cancer. 


B.S.: Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt, Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2006

M.Sc.: Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, 2011

Ph.D.: Georgia State University, Atlanta, Analytical Chemistry, 2017

Postdoctoral Research Associate: Center for Translational Medicine, University of Montana, Missoula, 2018-2020

Research Interests

Nanotechnology applied to drug delivery

Silica nanoparticles as a customizable platform for vaccine delivery

Adjuvant discovery

Vaccines R&D



Pharmaceutical analysis


The identification of novel Th17-inducing CLR agonists (NIAID, HHSN272201400050C)

This adjuvant discovery contract focuses on the identification of novel CLR adjuvants for inducing antigen-specific Th17 immunity against bacterial and fungal pathogens. This research is on-track to identify and develop new, safe and effective formulations for CLR-based vaccine adjuvants or adjuvant combinations that elicit protective CLR-driven immune responses when co-administered with a cognate antigen. Walid’s research contributions on the CLR adjuvant discovery program include: 1) examining the role of supramolecular structure of CLR ligands and its influence on the immunological activity which appears to be critical and unique to this class of adjuvants, 2) developing functionalized silica nanoparticles, liposomes, silicasomes and lyotropic liquid crystalline drug delivery systems as advanced presentation and co-delivery platforms for both the adjuvant and the antigen.

Formulation and analytical assay development for Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligand combinations (NIAID, HHSN272201800048C)

This project focuses on developing next generation of vaccine adjuvants capable of inducing broadly protective immune responses against the influenza virus. Although vaccination remains the most effective way to prevent this disease, current influenza vaccines do not induce cross protection against variable strains and only provide weak or waning protection in high-risk populations. This Adjuvant Development Contract that started in 2018 will advance one such product – a Synthetic Dual-TLR Adjuvant Combination System: TRAC-478 – towards human clinical trials. TRAC-478 includes a novel nucleolipid TLR7/8 ligand in combination with a synthetic TLR4 ligand co-delivered in a stable nanoparticle delivery system. The advantages of TRAC-478 over previous individual or other combination adjuvant systems include fewer side effects, improved thermostability, and most importantly, superior adaptive immune stimulation. Walid’s research on this project focuses on the development of colloidally stable nanoparticle systems with Toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists incorporation.

Development and validation of analytical methods for separation and determination of active pharmaceutical ingredients

Walid has extensive experience in the field of pharmaceutical analysis with more than 12 years of research experience in developing analytical techniques for the separation and accurate determination of pharmaceutical compounds in different formulations.

Developing bright and stable fluorogenic core-shell silica nanoparticles for sensing applications

In this interesting project, Walid aimed to combine the properties of silica nanoparticles and fluorescent dyes that can serve as chemical probes simply by synthesizing dye-encapsulated silica nanoparticles, a process that results in the fluorescent dye covalently or non-covalently attached to the structure of the silica matrix. This encapsulation process combines the versatility and functionality of organic dyes with the stability and compatibility of the silica surface. Moreover, this architecture is able to enhance both the brightness and stability of the dyes, compared to the free dye.

Selected Publications

  1. Walid M. Abdelwahab, Alexander Riffey, Cassie Buhl, Craig Johnson, Kendal Ryter, Jay T. Evans, David J. Burkhart. Co-Adsorption of Synthetic Mincle Agonists and Antigen to Silica Nanoparticles for Enhanced Vaccine Activity: A Formulation Approach to Co-Delivery. International Journal of Pharmaceutics 2020,
  2. Abdelwahab, Walid; Phillips, Edjohnier; Patonay, Gabor. “Preparation of Fluorescently Labeled Silica Nanoparticles Using an Amino Acid-catalyzed Seeds Regrowth Technique: Application to Latent Fingerprints Detection and Hemocompatibility Studies”. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 2018, 512:801-811.
  3. Walid Abdelwahab, David Burkhart, Jay Evans, Craig Johnson, Kendal T. Ryter, Alyson Smith, “Immunologic Trehalose Compounds and Uses Thereof”, Patent number: WO 2019169313, 2019.


Complete list of publications can be found in Walid’s Google Scholar account:

Professional Experience

2007 – 2012: Assistant Lecturer of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt                                          

2013 – 2017: Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant, Georgia State University, Department of Chemistry, Atlanta, GA

2016 – 2017: Instructor of Chemistry laboratory, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA

2018 – 2020: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Biomedical & Pharmaceutical Sciences University of Montana

2020 – present: Assistant Research Professor, Biomedical & Pharmaceutical Sciences University of Montana

2020 – present: Faculty Member of the Center for Translational Medicine at the University of Montana