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Find Faculty / Rahima Benhabbour

Contact Information:

Rahima Benhabbour

Mary Ellen Jones 9212B
UNC Chapel Hill

Research Areas:
  • Biomedical Microdevices
  • Pharmacoengineering
  • 2008 Ph.D. in Chemistry at McMaster University in Canada
  • 2001 MSc. Medicinal Chemistry at University of Minnesota in Duluth, MN


“As a woman from Africa, I feel a connection to the women in Africa who account for over 75 percent of all women in the world who are at risk of contracting HIV and who currently live with HIV. We have much to do to help them, and I believe we can do it.”

Rahima Benhabbour is an Assistant Professor at the UNC_NCSU Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at UNC-Chapel Hill. After completing her doctorate degree in chemistry in 2008 at McMaster University in Canada, Benhabbour completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and was promoted to Research Assistant Professor in December 2010. In September 2017, she was hired as an Assistant Professor at the UNC_NCSU Joint Biomedical Engineering Department with an Adjunct Appointment at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Dr. Benhabbour’s research focuses on the development of novel delivery platforms and polymer-based devices that can treat or prevent disease. Her work combines the elegance of polymer chemistry with the versatility of engineering and formulation development to design and fabricate efficient and translational delivery systems for HIV prevention and cancer treatment. The current limitations in drug delivery, such as rapid drug release and limited efficacy, are opportunities for breakthrough science that will impact human health. In particular, the greatest impact of Dr. Benhabbour’s technologies for HIV prevention could be on women in sub-Saharan Africa, where approximately 10,000 women are infected with HIV every day. Dr. Benhabbour’s laboratory is in the UNC-NCSU Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering and is part of the Center in Nanotechnology and Drug Delivery (CNDD) and the Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Our lab collaborates with experts in the fields of oncology and HIV research, both on the basic research and clinical sides. Our goal is to develop new devices and technologies that can be translated from the bench side to the bedside and impact human health. Dr. Benhabbour’s passion for making an impact on human health has been a driving force for her pursuit of innovation and translational science. She has recently developed an innovative 3D-printed intravaginal ring technology as a platform technology for women’s health indications. Dr. Benhabbour received her first funding for this innovative technology in June 2016 from the Eshelman Institute for Innovation, and in September 2016, she founded her first startup company Anelleo, Inc. In May 2017, AnelleO received its first seed funding from the Carolina KickStart Program to develop its first product AnelleO PRO, a progesterone 3D-printed intravaginal ring for the treatment of infertility. Dr. Benhabbour is a highly passionate and goal-driven individual whose ultimate dream is to help empower women who are most vulnerable to HIV and in desperate need of discrete, accessible and women-controlled preventative options.

Research Interests

Drug delivery devices for disease prevention and treatment


KL-2 CTSA Award for research on the development and characterization of safe and effective polymer-based devices for long-acting HIV prophylaxis, UNC-Chapel Hill, 2015-2018

Courses Taught

BMME 890 - Special Topics
BMME 900 - Research in Biomedical Engineering and Biomathematics

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