Our laboratory is dedicated to addressing the critical clinical need for therapies that can effectively promote rapid regeneration of corneal peripheral nerves and minimize vision loss in patients with corneal diseases.

Research in the Jalilian Lab

Our research focuses on two specific areas:

  1. Therapeutic Specificity of Extracellular Vesicles (EVs): We are conducting in-depth investigations into the therapeutic potential of two distinct sources of extracellular vesicles derived from bone marrow and corneal mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (MSCs). These EVs will be evaluated for their ability to promote nerve regeneration in murine corneas, both in vitro and in vivo. By studying the regenerative effects of these EVs, we aim to understand their specific impact on corneal nerves and their potential as targeted therapies.
  2. Molecular Mechanisms and Signaling Pathways: Additionally, our research involves an in- depth analysis of the cargo carried by the two types of MSC-derived EVs. Through transcriptomic and proteomic analyses, we aim to identify the specific components within these EVs that contribute to their neuroregenerative effects. By elucidating the molecular mechanisms and downstream signaling pathways involved in the regenerative response of nerve cells, we seek to uncover targetable molecules that can facilitate neuroregeneration in various clinical applications.

Our ultimate goal is to enhance our understanding of corneal nerve regeneration and identify effective therapeutic strategies for patients with corneal diseases. By unraveling the therapeutic specificity of MSC-derived EVs and investigating the underlying molecular mechanisms, we hope to contribute to the development of novel treatments that can restore damaged corneal nerves and potentially address other neurological ocular conditions.


Dr. Elmira Jalilian headshot

Elmira Jalilian, PhD

Principal Investigator

Dr. Elmira Jalilian is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Illinois Chicago. She holds a Ph.D. degree from University College London (UCL), United Kingdom, where she focused on investigating signaling pathways involved in endothelial cell phenotype regulation during angiogenesis and vasculogenesis in embryonic development. With expertise in stem cell and neurodevelopmental biology, her current research centers on comprehensively understanding the underlying biological mechanisms related to corneal sensory nerve behavior in both healthy and pathological conditions. Dr. Jalilian’s work includes exploring the regenerative potential of bone marrow and corneal mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and their extracellular vesicles (EVs) for repairing damaged corneal nerves following injury. She is also actively involved in developing techniques to label and track EVs in real-time using photoacoustic imaging, aiming to gather valuable information about their distribution, viability, and efficacy. These advancements have the potential to significantly enhance EV therapy for corneal conditions.

Previously, Dr.Jalilian served as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan, where she pioneered the development of 3D co-culture systems to generate cortical brain organoids for studying brain development during embryogenesis. She also contributed to research at Harvard Medical School, focusing on 3D bio-printing technology to create pre-vascularized muscle fibers, with the ultimate goal of designing advanced scaffolds for vascular tissue engineering applications.

Dr. Jalilian’s faculty page.

Dr. Deepshika Tewari headshot

Deepshika Tewari, PhD

Postdoc Fellow

Dr. Deepshikha Tewari is a senior postdoc in the Jalilian Lab, where she conducts scientific research focused on investigating the intricate molecular mechanisms underlying the function and interactions of corneal nerves within the ocular surface. Her research endeavors aim to gain a comprehensive understanding of the complex network of signaling pathways and cellular interactions that contribute to the maintenance and regeneration of corneal nerves. Prior to her current position, she worked as an independent scientist at the renowned Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, focusing on stem cell research projects related to osteoporosis treatment and bone regeneration. During her Ph.D., she specialized in molecular genetics, specifically studying hematological disorders and mutation detection. Dr. Tewari has been the recipient of prestigious fellowships, including the Women Scientist Fellowship and Young Scientist Fellowship from the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, as well as Research Associateship from the Department of Biotechnology and Senior Research Fellowship from the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Hamed Massoumi headshot

Hamed Massoumi

PhD Candidate and Lab Manager

Hamed Massoumi is a biomedical engineering PhD student in the Jalilian’s lab. He plays a key role as the lab manager, overseeing daily operations and ensuring the lab runs smoothly. He received his BS in Materials Science and Engineering from Iran University of Science and Technology (IUST), Tehran, Iran. He has two Masters of Science. The first in Tissue Engineering from the University of Tehran (UT), Tehran, Iran, and the second in Biological Engineering from the University of Georgia (UAG), Athens, US. Hamed’s research is focused on developing extracellular vesicle (EV)-based therapies for ocular surfaces and nerve regeneration. He has won one of the nine 2022 Chicago Consular Corps awards and has 11 peer-reviewed publications, 4 of which belong to the research that he started here in the Jalilian Lab.

Dr. Madhurima Chaudhuri headshot

Madhurima Chaudhuri, MD


Madhurima Chaudhuri is an Ophthalmologist from India who aims to match into Ophthalmology residency in the US. She also earned her MRCS in Ophthalmology from the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh,UK . She has worked on VEP changes in patients with blunt ocular trauma & Type2 Diabetes and photodynamic therapy as treatment modality for circumscribed choroidal hemangioma. Currently, she works as a Research Fellow at the Jalilian lab, where she investigates the impact of environmental stressors on corneal nerve regeneration in vivo. She is further involved in a project with the aim of characterization of extracellular vesicles from 2D & 3D cultured human mesenchymal cells and their effects on corneal wound healing and nerve regeneration. Eyes are her passion but apart from that, she loves to travel and paint.

Cedra Jazayerli headshot

Cedra Jazayerli

Senior Undergraduate Researcher

Cedra Jazayerli is an undergraduate student in her last year at UIC, majoring in biological sciences. She is a member of the Honors College as well as a GPPA Medical Scholar. In the Jalilian Lab, Cedra works in cell culture, cornea dissections, and EV collections. She is involved in many ongoing projects including EV isolation for nerve regeneration in vivo, and her current project is investigating gold nanoparticles as a means for cell tracking. She is passionate about medicine, fluent in Arabic, a certified yoga instructor, and is excited to continue her research throughout medical school.

Mannat Singh headshot

Mannat Singh

Undergraduate Researcher

Mannat Singh is an undergraduate student in her second year at UIC, double majoring in Molecular Biology and Psychology, as well as minoring in Chemistry. She is an active member of the Honors College, and is a part of many extracurricular clubs that range from focusing on social justice issues with impoverished communities to working with pre-medical students to help them be more involved in their communities through tutoring. Mannat’s project in the lab is focused on mouse eye dissection, corneal isolation, indirect immunostaining and corneal whole mounting to track neural regeneration within the cornea from various treatments of extracellular vesicles procured within the lab. She is dedicated to pursuing a career in the field of medicine and is driven by a desire to create positive change and improve healthcare accessibility for underprivileged communities. Mannat is also fluent in Hindi, English, working on gaining proficiency in French and Spanish. She is learning how to play the guitar and keyboard, enjoys listening to a variety of music, and uses an electric scooter as one of her main modes of transportation.

Abhi Krishnan headshot

Abhi Krishnan

Undergraduate Researcher

Abhi is an undergraduate entering his final year at UIC. He is a biomedical engineering major, and has double minors in biological sciences and chemistry, and plans to attend medical school. Abhi is involved in a number of projects in the lab, including Trigeminal Ganglia characterization, NeuroLucida Image Analysis, In-Vivo Corneal Debridement/Injection, and imaging assisted by Slit Lamp Biomicroscopy. Abhi’s interests include ophthalmology, cell and tissue engineering, and he loves to play chess in his downtime.

Rishabh Thankan headshot

Rishabh Thankan

Undergraduate Researcher

Rishabh is a final-year biomedical engineering student at the University of Illinois at Chicago with a passion for stem cell therapy, drug discovery, and medical device design. Actively involved in TG nerve isolation experiments in the Jalilian Lab, he strives to gain hands-on experience with stem cell culture and manipulation. Rishabh aims to contribute to bio- pharmaceutical companies, revolutionizing disease treatment through innovative therapeutics and designing cutting-edge medical devices. He stays updated with emerging technologies and plans to pursue graduate education to further his expertise in these areas.

Arnab Roy headshot

Arnab Roy

Visiting Researcher

Arnab Roy is an undergraduate student in his sophomore year at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and is a visiting researcher at the Jalilian Lab. He is majoring in biochemistry and is following the pre-medical track. He is also a part of the Kalsotra Lab at UIUC where he’s working on genetically analyzing alcoholic steatohepatitis (ASH). As a visiting researcher, Arnab is working on and testing the therapeutic efficacy of EVs on corneal wound healing. In his free time, he enjoys playing the violin, weightlifting, building Legos, and volunteering at local hospitals/community events.


UIC MD program acceptance

October 2023

The Jalilian Lab is thrilled to share the achievement of our undergraduate students, Abhi Krishan, who has been admitted into UIC’s MD program, set to start after he finishes his Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering this spring! Abhi looks forward to being a part of our lab for the next four years, while also learning as much as he can to serve his community as a future ophthalmologist. Join us in celebrating his incredible milestone!

Women In Medicine Summit

September 2023

Madhurima (Ophthalmologist and research scholar) had an amazing experience presenting at the Women In Medicine Summit 2023 held at The Drake Hotel, Chicago in September. She got a chance to talk about our lab’s work on “Evaluating the effects of exosomes obtained from 3D cultured human bone marrow mesenchymal cells on nerve regeneration in a rodent wounded cornea model” and exchanging ideas on the field with some amazing professionals. Meeting esteemed figures and forming meaningful connections with women physicians and scientists was nothing short of inspiring for her!

Madhurima stands by her poster at the Women in Medicine Summit.

LASURI Scholarship Awardee

August 2023

Cedra Jazayerli has been honored with the LASURI Scholarship for her project, titled “The Impact of Nerve Regeneration in the Presence of Extracellular Vesicles.” This prestigious scholarship, sponsored by UIC Honors College, includes a tuition scholarship and a lab stipend to support the student’s experience in the lab. This recognition highlights the invaluable mentorship provided by Dr. Jalilian and will culminate in an exciting presentation of Cedra’s research at the UIC Undergraduate Research Forum in April.


Self-funded Visiting Scholars:

Applicants with background in cellular and molecular biology, neuroscience, stem cell biology, tissue engineering, medical students and ophthalmology are preferred. Applicants who aim to visit for more than 6 months will be considered. A recently updated CV and two references are required. Source of funding should be clearly stated. Applicants who are interested should send the CV to Dr. Jalilian (Jalilian@uic.edu or Elmira.Jalilian@gmail.com)


The Jalilian Lab is located on the 5th floor of UIC’s Medical Sciences Building (MSB).

Jalilian Laboratory
Room 500
835 S. Wolcott Ave
Chicago, IL 60612
United States

Email: Jalilian@uic.edu or Elmira.Jalilian@gmail.com


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