Mediphage REsearch Group

The Mediphage Research Group is located in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Waterloo. We are associated with the Waterloo Institute of Nanotechnology (WIN) and the Centre for Biotechnology and Bioengineering


Featured Research

Our research seeks to apply phage and phage-encoded genes and genetic systems toward the generation of new process innovations with application to the design of novel therapeutics and optimized production/purification platforms.


Nucleic acid delivery vectors and production systems

The bacteriophage PY54 Tel/pal recombinase system has been exploited as a novel platform for the efficient production of linear covalently closed (LCC) DNA minivectors, termed DNA ministrings, to serve as safe and effective DNA delivery vectors. This work aims to construct efficient and scale-able processes to generate DNA vectors in vivo as simplified, scalable and optimized strategies for vector production. In characterizing these DNA vectors, we compared them in safety and effectiveness to conventional DNA delivery vectors. This work has culminated in the development of the most efficient in vivo LCC DNA vector production system to date (Patent awarded US 9290778 B2) and we continue to optimize the efficiency and scalability of the production system (Nafissi et al. 2014. Mol Ther Nucleic Acids 3: e165). See our JoVE video here.


Lytic phage display

Our lab has designed and characterized a novel 2-dimensional genetic strategy to modulate the degree of decoration of a desired peptide/protein on the surface of phage l via genetic fusion to its major capsid protein, gpD. This was done by combining various permutations of the gpD allele with controllable expression of gpD::X (fusion) during phage assembly. Our studies represent the first method and attempt to measure surface phage fluorescence (eGFP fused to gpD) on a phage by FACS and the highest degree of controllable phage decoration reported to date. (Patent pending US 2015/0031583Nicastro et al. 2013. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 97: 7791-7804).


Roderick Slavcev


About Roderick

Roderick Slavcev specializes in microbial genetics and biochemistry of nucleic acids with experience in both academic and industrial settings. Prior to gathering valuable marketing and clinical experience as a medical liaison for the pharmaceutical industry he completed his post-doctoral fellowship at the Department of Medical Genetics and Microbiology at the University of Toronto in the area of bacteriophage P1 plasmid partition and chromosomal segregation. His current research group comprises Mediphage Bioceuticals (MB) encompasses genetics, molecular biology, virology and technology transfer with the ultimate aim of bringing new treatments to the global environment, especially less developed countries. MB research projects focus on the exploitation of bacteriophage-based biotechnology and include the use of coliphages and phage-encoded genes and genetic elements to design and construct vectors for the development of novel vaccines, biopharmaceuticals and gene therapy systems, and the identification and application of novel phage genomic anti-bacterial genes to treat and dispose of the clinical culprits of global bacterial infection.

Roderick comes to the University of Waterloo with a MBA specialized in biotechnology management and commercialization. As the Professor of Business and Entrepreneurship, Roderick currently directs and delivers the School of Pharmacy's award-winning business curriculum initiative. He was also instrumental in the designing and development of the first Medical Microbiology Laboratory to be offered by a Canadian Pharmacy curriculum and leads the development of a Continuing Education initiative to bring Strategic Management and Leadership to practicing pharmacists.

The Best and Brightest

Jessica Nicastro

PhD Candidate

Merium Fernando

MSc Candidate

Heba Alattas

PhD Candidate

Jesse St. Jean

PhD Candidate

Shirley Wong

PhD Candidate

Suphia Du

Laboratory Associate

Hayden Huh

MSc Candidate

Anetta Ille

Laboratory Associate

Featured Publications



Construction and Characterization of an in-vivo Linear Covalently Closed DNA Vector Production System

Authors: Nafiseh Nafissi and Roderick Slavcev

PMID: 23216697


DNA Ministrings: Highly Safe and Effective Gene Delivery Vectors

Authors: Nafiseh Nafissi, Samih Alqawlaq, Eric A Lee, Marianna Foldvari, Paul A Spagnuolo1, Roderick A Slavcev

PMID: 24892724


Construction and analysis of a genetically tuneable lytic phage display system

Authors: Jessica Nicastro, Katlyn Sheldon, Farah A. El-zarkout, Stanislav Sokolenko, Marc G. Aucoin, Roderick Slavcev

PMID: 23640362

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Mediphage Research Group
University of Waterloo - School of Pharmacy
10A Victoria St. S.
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
N2G 1C5

Phone: (519) 888-4499