In my current role, I lead AstraZeneca’s formulation and delivery development activities for therapeutic nucleic acids with a focus on understanding cellular delivery mechanisms of mRNA using non-viral delivery vehicles.

By background, I completed my PhD at the University of Nottingham Doctoral Training Centre in Targeted Therapeutics, where I studied the uptake and intracellular trafficking pathways of polymeric nanoparticles using pH-based nanosensors.

I joined AstraZeneca in 2013 and have been working primarily in the field of nucleic acid delivery since.

I’ve also contributed to various collaborations, to develop nucleic acid based therapeutics including Moderna Therapeutics (mRNA), Ionis (ASOs) and Regulus (anti-miRs).

I joined the Advanced Drug Delivery to help build capabilities for intracellular delivery of nucleic acids. This includes establishing an end to end nanomedicine optimisation platform which advances the design of delivery technologies for applications in gene therapy.

I am fascinated by the science of nucleic acids. I believe that addressing the fundamental challenges of intracellular delivery will make a real impact to the therapies of the future.

Arpan Desai Associate Principal Scientist, Advanced Drug Delivery, Pharmaceutical Sciences, R&D


Associate Principal Scientist, Advanced Drug Delivery, Pharmaceutical Sciences, R&D


Developed an intracellular delivery optimisation platform with automated robotic process for testing and formulation of nanoparticles in a biological context.


Established and led the AstraZeneca Intracellular Drug Delivery group, a multidisciplinary team with the aim to build mechanistic understanding and capabilities to advance intracellular delivery


Advanced scientific understanding of the tumour cellular uptake and intracellular trafficking of lipid nanoparticles containing therapeutic mRNA, resulting in clinical advancement of projects.

  Featured publications

Using macropinocytosis for intracellular delivery of therapeutic nucleic acids to tumour cells.

Desai AS, Hunter MR, Kapustin A. (2019), Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences, 374. Publication link.

Systemic in vivo delivery of siRNA to tumours using combination of polyethyleneimine and transferrin–polyethyleneimine conjugates.

Grabowska AM, Kircheis R, Kumari R, Clarke P, McKenzie A, Hughes J, Mayne C, Desai A, Sasso L, Watson SA, Alexander C. (2015), Biomaterials Science, 3(11), 1439-1448. Publication link.

Fluorescent nanosensors for intracellular measurements: synthesis, characterization, calibration, and measurement.

Desai AS, Chauhan VM, Johnston AP, Esler T, Aylott JW. (2013), Frontiers in Physiology, 4: 401. Publication link.