James Ankrum, PhD

Contact Information

Office: 3336 PBDB
Phone: 319-335-6096
Faculty Profile

Brief description of research:

Cell-based therapies have the potential to restore function to a broad range of diseased and damaged tissues. However, this potential can only be realized if cells can be reliably delivered to the target tissue and remain functional. Our lab is focused on developing bioengineering strategies to overcome challenges in delivery and control of cell phenotype after transplantation. Using a combination of chemistry and biomaterials we create tools that allow us to influence cell phenotype even after transplantation. These platform technologies have numerous applications to diabetes and its complications. We are currently developing a mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) based therapy to treat diabetic wounds through enhancing MSCs angiogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. Other applications include enhancing beta cell therapy, through promoting survival and long-term function of transplanted cells.

3 most influential diabetes/obesity/metabolism publications: 

  • Ankrum J, Dastidar RG, Ong JF, Levy O, Karp JM. (2014). Performance-enhanced mesenchymal stem cells via intracellular delivery of steroids. Scientific Reports Nature Publishing Group;, 4.
  • Ankrum J, Ong JF, Karp JM. (2014). Mesenchymal stem cells: immune evasive, not immune privileged. Nat Biotechnol.
  • Ankrum J, Miranda OR, Ng KS, Sarkar D, Xu C, Karp JM. (2014). Engineering cells with intracellular agent-loaded microparticles to control cell phenotype. Nat Protoc, 9(2), 233–45.


Diabetes is a devastating disease that damages virtually every tissue in the body and is ravaging our society. Cell-based therapies provide the unique opportunity to not just manage symptoms, but actually restore function and quality of life to millions of patients. It is our mission to refine these therapies from an idea in a lab to the standard of care across the world.