Fan Yuan

Image of Fan Yuan

Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Yuan's research interests include drug and gene delivery, mechanisms of molecular transport in cells and tissues, and tumor pathophysiology.

Cure of cancer through chemotherapy requires drug molecules to reach all tumor cells at an adequately high concentration. At present, such a requirement cannot be satisfied in most patients. This is because (a) amount of drugs that can be administered into patients is limited by normal tissue tolerance and (b) drug distribution and cellular response to drugs in tumors are heterogeneous. Therefore, cells in regions with drug concentration below the therapeutic level will cause tumor recurrence and they may also develop resistance to future treatment.

The goal of our research is two-fold. One is to improve delivery of therapeutic agents in solid tumors; and the second is to understand mechanisms of drug resistance in tumors caused by intrinsic cellular heterogeneity and physiological barriers. These studies may provide useful information on how to improve clinical treatment of cancer based on currently available drugs or molecular medicines in the future.

Research projects in our lab include quantification of transport parameters, delivery of drugs encapsulated in temperature sensitive liposomes, physical interventions of drugs, electric field-mediated gene delivery, mathematical modeling of drug and gene delivery.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Professor in Ophthalmology
  • Member of the Duke Cancer Institute

Contact Information:

  • Office Location: Rm 1385, Fciemas, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0281
  • Office Phone: (919) 660-5411
  • Email Address:
  • Web Pages:


  • Ph.D. City University of New York, 1990
  • M.S. Beijing University (China), 1985
  • B.S. Beijing University (China), 1983

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions:

  • Fellows. American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. 2007
  • CAREER Award. National Science Foundation. 2000
  • SPORE in Breast Cancer Career Development Award. Duke University Medical Center. 1996
  • IPM Innovative Instrumentation Award. The Microcirculatory Society. 1994
  • IPM Innovative Instrumentation Award. The Microcirculatory Society. 1993

Courses Taught:

  • BME 260L: Modeling Cellular and Molecular Systems
  • BME 394: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 493: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 494: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 530: Introduction to Tissue Biomechanics (GE, BB)
  • BME 577: Drug Transport Analysis (GE, BB, MC)
  • BME 789: Internship in Biomedical Engineering
  • BME 791: Graduate Independent Study
  • MENG 550: Master of Engineering Internship/Project
  • MENG 551: Master of Engineering Internship/Project Assessment

Representative Publications:

  • Mao, M; Wang, L; Chang, C-C; Rothenberg, KE; Huang, J; Wang, Y; Hoffman, BD; Liton, PB; Yuan, F, Involvement of a Rac1-Dependent Macropinocytosis Pathway in Plasmid DNA Delivery by Electrotransfection., Molecular Therapy, vol 25 no. 3 (2017), pp. 803-815 [10.1016/j.ymthe.2016.12.009] [abs].
  • Cervia, LD; Chang, C-C; Wang, L; Yuan, F, Distinct effects of endosomal escape and inhibition of endosomal trafficking on gene delivery via electrotransfection., PloS one, vol 12 no. 2 (2017) [10.1371/journal.pone.0171699] [abs].
  • Chang, C-C; Mao, M; Liu, Y; Wu, M; Vo-Dinh, T; Yuan, F, Improvement in Electrotransfection of Cells Using Carbon-Based Electrodes., Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering, vol 9 no. 4 (2016), pp. 538-545 [10.1007/s12195-016-0452-9] [abs].
  • Li, G; Mukherjee, D; Navarro, I; Ashpole, NE; Sherwood, JM; Chang, J; Overby, DR; Yuan, F; Gonzalez, P; Kopczynski, CC; Farsiu, S; Stamer, WD, Visualization of conventional outflow tissue responses to netarsudil in living mouse eyes., European Journal of Pharmacology, vol 787 (2016), pp. 20-31 [10.1016/j.ejphar.2016.04.002] [abs].
  • Huang, J; Wang, L; Xiong, C; Yuan, F, Elastic hydrogel as a sensor for detection of mechanical stress generated by single cells grown in three-dimensional environment., Biomaterials, vol 98 (2016), pp. 103-112 [10.1016/j.biomaterials.2016.04.024] [abs].