UCL School of Pharmacy

Dr Satyanarayana Somavarapu

Dr Satyanarayana Somavarapu

Senior Lecturer


UCL School of Pharmacy

Joined UCL
1st Jan 2012

Research summary

Dr Somavarapu’s research interests lie in the design and development of novel carriers for mucosal delivery of vaccines, proteins, gene-based medicine and small molecules. Much of his work is focused on pulmonary drug delivery.

Current research projects include: 

  • Mucosal delivery of vaccines: novel carrier systems, comprised of a combination of polymers and adjuvants, for the delivery of protein and DNA based vaccines.

  • Pulmonary delivery of siRNA: RNA interference has recently emerged as a powerful means of “silencing genes”, and has become a widely used tool in molecular biology. There is considerable interest in delivering siRNAs into the lungs to treat respiratory conditions (e.g. cancer and asthma) and infectious diseases (e.g. influenza). Dr. Somavarapu's group is currently researching stable carrier systems for formulations delivered to the deep airways via DPI, PMDI and nebuliser devices.

  • Inhalation of chemotherapeutic agents: pulmonary fungal infections are associated with high levels of morbidity and mortality. Colloidal carriers, such as liposomes, may localise drug action within the pulmonary system and permit drug release in a controlled manner. However, liposomes present formulation and stability problems. Research in this area is designed to overcome these issues. Similar formulations are being tested for the pulmonary delivery of macromolecules, such as interferons and monoclonal antibodies.

  • Solubilisation of poorly soluble drugs using polyglutamic acid derivatives via complexation strategies and micellar systems.

  • Nanotechnology for the delivery of phytochemicals:  ongoing research in this field involves the use of novel nanocarriers for the delivery of phytochemicals, such as curcumin (curry spice) and reservatrol (red wine).  

  • Ocular delivery of novel therapeutic molecules for the treatment of age related macular degeneration using polymeric carrier systems.


Dr Somavarapu received his master’s degree in pharmacy (MPharm) from Banaras Hindu University, India.  His move to England came with the award of a Commonwealth Fellowship from the Association of Commonwealth Universities and he undertook a PhD at the University of Aston in Birmingham. His thesis was entitled “Novel bioadhesive formulations for mucosal and parenteral delivery of vaccines” and was awarded in 2001. 

Dr Somavarapu has since completed post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Aston and the Centre for Drug Delivery Research at The School of Pharmacy. This has included an international collaboration on a European project on developing vaccination strategies against the Bluetongue virus.  In 2005 he was appointed as Academic Fellow at The School of Pharmacy and became a lecturer in 2010. He has over seventy publications, including twenty journal articles, over fifty peer-reviewed abstracts and several international conference presentations.  He also has six patents on vaccine formulations.