Brendan Harmon

Brendan Harmon

Department: Pharmaceutical Sciences
Advisor: Barbara Waszczak

Collaborators: Mansoor Amiji



The neurotrophic protein GDNF has been shown to be neuroprotective and restorative in a variety of Parkinsons disease animal models and even some human clinical trials. However, delivery of GDNF to the brain has required direct injection into the brain, a great safety risk.

My research focuses on intranasal administration, which bypasses the blood-brain barrier and allows large molecular weight therapeutics directly into the brain. We have collaborated with Copernicus Therapeutics, Inc. who have produced a PEGylated poly-lysine nanoparticle DNA vector as well as expression plasmids for GDNF. Combining our non-invasive intranasal approach with their gene therapy vectors has great potential for allowing therapeutic protein expression in the brain, which could combat a variety of CNS disorders.

The IGERT program has allowed me to gain access and insight into the nanomedicine world. My collaborations and thesis work has greatly improved due to my increased nanomedicine knowledge. In addition, the generous support of IGERT allowed me to attend numerous conferences, such as the Society for Neuroscience and Experimental Biology meetings.

*Graduated in 2007 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a B.S. in Bioinformatics/Molecular Biology and Psychology

*University Excellence Fellow (2007-Present)

*Rho Chi Honor Society member, Beta-Tau chapter (2009-Present)

*ASPET member (2009-Present)

*AAPS member (2010-Present)



  • Intranasal delivery of compacted plasmid-DNA nanoparticles achieves transfection and expression in rat brain., Brendan Harmon, Linda Wang, Northeastern University RISE Expo, Boston, MA, Mar 2012
  • Development of a non-viral vector for GDNF gene therapy of Parkinson’s disease., Brendan Harmon, Society for Neuroscience, Washington, D.C., Nov 2011
  • Progress toward developing an intranasal gene therapy approach for CNS disorders., Brendan Harmon, Experimental Biology Conference, Washington D.C., Apr 2011
  • Correlation of autoradiographic and SPECT imaging of the dopamine transporter in a unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) rat model of Parkinson’s disease., Brendan Harmon, Society for Neuroscience Conference, Chicago, IL, Oct 2009
  • Cationic liposomes for intranasal delivery of genes to the brain., Brendan Harmon, Society for Neuroscience Conference, Washington, D.C., Nov 2008