Dr. Juan Beltran-Huarac

Assistant Professor

Office Location: Austin 318, Jenkins 204
Telephone: (252) 328-4131, (252) 744-2126
Email: beltranhuaracj19@ecu.edu
Laboratory: Huarac Lab

PhD in Chemical Physics, University of Puerto Rico

Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard, School of Public Health

Postdoctoral Fellow, UNC-Chapel Hill, School of Pharmacy

Dr. Juan Beltran-Huarac is a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Physics, at East Carolina University (ECU) focusing on magnetic nanoformulations and bionanotechnology. He received his PhD (2014) from the University of Puerto Rico in chemical physics and completed postdoctoral research stays in Harvard University (2016-2018, Center for Nanotechnology and Nanotoxicology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2018-2019, Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacology) before joining ECU. His research has been recognized by several awards including the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU).


  • Understanding nano/bio interactions in presence of physical stimuli
  • Cancer treatment using nanotechnology tools
  • Magnetic therapy
  • MRI contrast agents
  • Development of magnetic nanoformulations

Research Projects

My primary goal is devoted to investigating the combined effect of magnetic nanoformulations and exogenous magnetic fields to induce selective changes in cell function and tumor microenvironments. Understanding better nano/bio interactions on this magnetic approach helps us treat cancer more effectively in a non-invasive manner. As for cancer imaging, our lab develops relaxivity-tunable T1 and T2 contrast agents for MRI based on surface-complexed metal oxide nanomaterials. The safe-by-design architecture of such nanoconstructs for cancer theranostics is conducted via innovative miniaturization strategies, so we can develop high-quality products with defined size and morphology, and predictable magnetic response. Our lab also evaluates their extrinsic response in relevant physiological media through integrated dispersability and dosimetric approaches. This enables to elucidate both SARs and toxicity profiles in targeted cancer cells, and in turn to unveil cell death mechanisms. Our synergistic efforts aim at demonstrating feasibility of this new technology for magnetic cancer treatment.

Courses Taught

  • PHYS 3416 Physics Modern I
  • PHYS 3417 Physics Modern II
  • PHYS 3718 Undergraduate Research in Physics
  • BIO 3504 Research in Biology

Distinctions and Awards

  • Research Triangle Nanotechnology Network (RTNN)
  • National High Magnetic Field Lab, AMRIS User Facility Grant (2018-2021)
  • Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award (2020)
  • National Science Foundation Innovation Corps, NC State I-Corps Site Award (2020)
  • East Carolina University, Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Award (2020)
  • East Carolina University, THCAS Faculty Conference Award (2020)
  • UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Pilot Grant Program (2018-2019)
  • Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery, NIH Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2018-2019)
  • Center for Nanotechnology and Nanotoxicology, NIH Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (2016-2018)
  • US Army Research Lab, Army Research Office Grant (2017)
  • Ohio University, Nanoscale and Quantum Phenomena Institute Grant (2017)
  • National High Magnetic Field Lab, AMRIS User Facility Grant (2014-2017)
  • National High Magnetic Field Lab, AMRIS Visiting Scholar Grant (2016)
  • 2nd Workshop on Multifunctional Nanomaterials and 9TH Workshop on Frontier in Electronics, Best Poster Award (2015)
  • Workshop on Multifunctional Nanomaterials, Best Poster Award (2015)
  • Materials Research Society, Best Poster Award – Nominee (2015)
  • US National Nanotechnology Initiative, Finalist in EnvisioNano 2.0 Image Contest (2015)
  • Materials Research Society, Finalist in Science as Art Competition (2014)
  • Institute for Functional Nanomaterials, Doctoral Research Fellowship (2011-2014)

Recent Publications