Urs Häfeli PhD


Profile Type
Accepting Graduate Students

Dr. Urs Hafeli completed a bachelor of science in pharmacy at the Federal Institute of Technology (Zurich, Switzerland) and a doctor of philosophy in pharmacy at Paul Scherrer Institute/Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

Dr. Hafeli enjoys teaching all aspects of drug delivery for both undergraduate (PHRM 100, PHRM 211) and graduate students (PHAR 592A, 510, 518, 525).

Research in the Hafeli Laboratory is primarily directed at fighting cancer with radioactive pharmaceuticals and the development of diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals to be used in different nuclear medicine procedures. He also enjoys exploiting nanotechnology and microtechnology for different drug delivery applications, including the development of painless microneedles and the use of microfluidics for the preparation of monosized microspheres. Under the guidance of Research Associate Dr. Kathy Saatchi, the Hafeli laboratory has a strong chemistry base that encompasses organic, coordination and polymer chemistry. Using these tools, Dr. Hafeli’s research includes the entire spectrum of drug research from the synthesis and radiolabelling of new molecules; the preparation of drug delivery carriers such as nanoparticles, microspheres, antibodies, and polymers; the careful evaluation of drug delivery systems in vitro and in toxicology experiments; and finally, efficacy testing in different in vivo models using many different imaging modalities (SPECT, PET, CT, MRI, optical imaging).

Current Projects

Radiopharmaceuticals, the general name for radiolabelled diagnostic and therapeutic agents, can take many different shapes including particles sized from tens of nanometers (= nanospheres) up to about 100 micrometers (= microspheres), viscous solutions and micellar/liposomal suspensions, sheets, metal implants such as stents (metal or plastic coils), and biodegradable films. The Hafeli laboratory is interested in preparing radioactively labelled drug delivery vehicles of all shapes, made from many different materials, and using them to kill tumours and prevent their reoccurrence.

For more details about ongoing projects, please visit the Hafeli Lab Website.


Agnoletti M, Rodríguez-Rodríguez C, Kłodzińska SN, Esposito TVF, Saatchi K, Mørck Nielsen H, Häfeli UO. Monosized Polymeric Microspheres Designed for Passive Lung Targeting: Biodistribution and Pharmacokinetics after Intravenous Administration. ACS Nano. 2020 Jun 23;14(6):6693-6706. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.9b09773. Epub 2020 May 27. PMID: 32392034.

Buchwalder C, Jaraquemada-Peláez MG, Rousseau J, Merkens H, Rodríguez-Rodríguez C, Orvig C, Bénard F, Schaffer P, Saatchi K, Häfeli UO. Evaluation of the Tetrakis(3-Hydroxy-4-Pyridinone) Ligand THPN with Zirconium(IV): Thermodynamic Solution Studies, Bifunctionalization, and in Vivo Assessment of Macromolecular 89Zr-THPN-Conjugates. Inorg Chem. 2019 Nov 4;58(21):14667-14681. doi: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.9b02350. Epub 2019 Oct 21. PMID: 31633347.

Geczy, Reka & Sticker, Drago & Bovet, Nicolas & Häfeli, Urs & Kutter, Jörg. (2019). Chloroform compatible, thiol-ene based replica molded micro chemical devices as an alternative to glass microfluidic chips. Lab on a Chip. 19. 10.1039/C8LC01260A.

De La Vega JC, Esquinas PL, Rodríguez-Rodríguez C, Bokharaei M, Moskalev I, Liu D, Saatchi K, Häfeli UO. Radioembolization of Hepatocellular Carcinoma with Built-In Dosimetry: First in vivo Results with Uniformly-Sized, Biodegradable Microspheres Labeled with 188Re. Theranostics. 2019 Jan 25;9(3):868-883. doi: 10.7150/thno.29381. PMID: 30809314; PMCID: PMC6376476.

Esquinas PL, Rodríguez-Rodríguez C, Esposito TVF, Harboe J, Bergamo M, Celler A, Saatchi K, Sossi V, Häfeli UO. Dual SPECT imaging of 111In and 67Ga to simultaneously determine in vivo the pharmacokinetics of different radiopharmaceuticals: a quantitative tool in pre-clinical research. Phys Med Biol. 2018 Dec 6;63(23):235029. doi: 10.1088/1361-6560/aaef63. PMID: 30520418.

Thakur A, Rodríguez-Rodríguez C, Saatchi K, Rose F, Esposito T, Nosrati Z, Andersen P, Christensen D, Häfeli UO, Foged C. Dual-Isotope SPECT/CT Imaging of the Tuberculosis Subunit Vaccine H56/CAF01: Induction of Strong Systemic and Mucosal IgA and T-Cell Responses in Mice Upon Subcutaneous Prime and Intrapulmonary Boost Immunization. Front Immunol. 2018 Nov 30;9:2825. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.02825. PMID: 30555488; PMCID: PMC6284049.

Nosrati Z, Li N, Michaud F, Ranamukhaarachchi S, Karagiozov S, Soulez G, Martel S, Saatchi K, Häfeli UO. Development of a Coflowing Device for the Size-Controlled Preparation of Magnetic-Polymeric Microspheres as Embolization Agents in Magnetic Resonance Navigation Technology. ACS Biomater Sci Eng. 2018 Mar 12;4(3):1092-1102. doi: 10.1021/acsbiomaterials.7b00839. Epub 2018 Feb 21. PMID: 33418793.


Innovator award of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A. (2004)

Pharmaceutical Sciences Award for Excellence in Translational Graduate Teaching, UBC (2014 and 2016)


2018-2024 PI, NSERC Discovery Grant, Microfluidic systems for high efficiency radiolabeling and purification of nanomedicines

2017-2023 Co-PI, Novo Nordisk Foundation Challenge Programme, Center for Biopharmaceuticals and Biobarriers in Drug Delivery, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

2020-2023 Co-PI, CIHR project grant, Magnetic resonance navigation of drug eluting beads for liver cancer therapy: in-vitro optimization and preclinical safety efficacy study, with a group at Université de Montréal

2020-2021 Co-PI, Innovation Fund Kickstart Award from the Djavad Mowafaghian Center for Brain Health, Mechanisms of Peripheral Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) Induced Brain Inflammation


“Nanobiotechnology in Bioscience and Clinic.” Plenary talk at 16th International Life Science Meeting at IMC FH Krems, Austria (May 08, 2019).

“Short review of the last 2 years of magnetic carriers research.” Plenary talk at 12th International Conference on the Scientific and Clinical Applications of Magnetic Carriers, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (May 23, 2018).

“Application of Microfluidics for the Preparation of Magnetic Microspheres and the Separation of Particles of Different Shapes and Sizes.” The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway (March 9, 2018).

“Optimal combination: Magnetic particles, heat, radiation and radiosensitizers.” Invited talk at COST Action Radiomag (TD1402) meeting in Athens, Greece (April 7, 2016).

“Diagnostic and Therapeutic Applications of Magnetic Particles.” Invited talk at Nanolytica 2016 at the Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada (May 5, 2016).

“Importance of Molecular Weight and Size for Drug Targeting in Nanomedicine.” Plenary talk at the 10th European Workshop on Particulate Systems (EWPS) in Copenhagen, Denmark (Jan 20, 2017).

Contact Details

(604) 822-7133
(604) 822-3035


Office 5515, Pharmaceutical Sciences Building

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