Michael J. Donovan


2013 Master of Engineering (MEng) in Biomedical Engineering (Tan Research Group), Hunan University, Changsha, China


Michael has the distinction of being the first American ever admitted to the MEng in Biomedical Engineering program at Hunan University. Hunan University, located in Changsha, China, was founded in 976 A.D. Since the opening of the State Key Laboratory of Chemo/Bio-Sensing & Chemometrics, the university has become one of the most prominent research facilities for novel analytical techniques in the world.


2011 B.S. in Chemistry (Tan Research Group), University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida



Donovan Biotechnology, LLC

Founder and CEO, 2015 - Present


The products which Donovan Biotechnology, LLC researches, develops, and commercializes fall into three broad categories: (a) Veraptus® therapeutic aptamers, (b) Veraptus® aptamer-prodrugs, and (c) Veraptus® generic pharmaceuticals.


The Veraptus® brand grew out of: (a) the close relationship between Donovan and Dr. Weihong Tan, one of the world’s foremost experts in the research and discovery of aptamers; (b) the unique opportunity, at this early stage of aptamer commercialization, to establish a dominant biomedical engineering company in China which has the technological know-how to replace antibodies with superior and more cost-effective Veraptus® aptamers in therapeutics, diagnosis, and imaging; and (c) the need to provide affordable life-saving drugs to all high-burden countries without discrimination.


Veraptus® aptamer-delivered pharmaceutical preparations and generic pharmaceuticals will be used for the treatment of: bacterial infectious diseases, viral infectious diseases, parasitic infectious diseases, cancer, lupus, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, cardiovascular disorders and conditions, respiratory disorders and conditions, and liver disease.


For more information, visit www.veraptus.com.


Founder and CEO, September 2016 - Present


Vercusta is a blend word formed from Veraptus Custom Apparel. Veraptus is a portmanteau of “veritas” (Latin for “truth”) and “aptus” (Latin for “fit”). One hundred percent (100%) of the net income of Vercusta® will be used to fund the research and development of Veraptus® innovative, affordable medicines. Vercusta® is a manufacturer and retailer of custom apparel and accessories for gentlemen, ladies, children and babies.


Establishment of Research-Oriented Teaching Hospital and School of Medicine
February 2016 - May 2016


Formed a joint venture with The Broad Group to establish a Research-Oriented Teaching Hospital and School of Medicine at their 57-story building in Changsha, China. Michael's role was to bring over a top American medical school and hospital to create a collaborative partnership agreement with Hunan University. Michael brought the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) on board for the project.


Sansure Biotech, Inc., Changsha, China

Project Manager for International Business Development, 2013 - September 2015


Responsible for negotiating and drafting international biomedical engineering transactions in Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and South America.


Renergie, Inc., Tampa, Florida
Co-Founder, 2006 - 2011

Co-founded Renergie, Inc. (“Renergie”) for the purpose of raising capital to develop, construct, own and operate a network of ten advanced biofuel manufacturing facilities in the parishes of the State of Louisiana which were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Renergie’s unique “Field-to-Pump” strategy is to cost-effectively produce "non-food" feedstock, process hydrous advanced biofuel from the produced feedstock, and directly market E10, E20, E30 and E85 via variable blending pumps.


Assisted in drafting the legislation (“HB 1270”) for the creation of an advanced biofuel industry development initiative in Louisiana. On June 21, 2008, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law the Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative (“Act 382″). Act 382, the most comprehensive and far-reaching state legislation in the U.S. enacted to develop a statewide advanced biofuel industry, is based upon Renergie’s unique “Field-to-Pump” strategy. Louisiana is the first state to enact alternative transportation fuel legislation that moves fuel ethanol beyond being just a blending component in gasoline by including a mandatory variable blending pump pilot program and hydrous ethanol pilot program.


Assisted in drafting a testing exemption application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) for the purpose of testing hydrous E10, E20, E30 and E85 ethanol blends in non-flex-fuel vehicles and flex-fuel vehicles in Louisiana. On-site blending pumps, in lieu of splash blending, are used for this test. On February 4, 2009, the U.S. EPA granted Renergie a tampering waiver for the purpose of testing hydrous E10, E20, E30 and E85 ethanol blends in non-flex-fuel vehicles in Louisiana. On February 24, 2009, the U.S. EPA granted Renergie a first-of-its-kind RVP waiver for the purpose of testing hydrous E10, E20, E30 and E85 ethanol blends in non-flex-fuel vehicles and flex-fuel vehicles in Louisiana.


Assisted in securing grant money from the State of Florida in the amount of US$1,500,483. Renergie was one of eight recipients, selected from 139 grant applicants, to share $12.5 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. On January 20, 2009, the Florida Energy & Climate Commission amended RET Grant Agreement S0386 to increase Renergie’s funding from US$1,500,483 to US$2,500,000.


Tan Research Group, Gainesville, Florida
2009 Drafted NIH grant application on behalf of the Tan Research Group. Title of Project: Development of Molecular Probes for Biomedical Applications


College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
2010 Teaching Assistant
Evaluated performance and provided guidance to a class of students in Medicine and the Law.


Birthplace: Lafayette, Louisiana
Languages: English (Native) and Mandarin (Minimum Professional Proficiency)


2004 All Children’s Hospital, St. Petersburg, Florida
Internship with the Department of Neurosurgery


2004 -2007 Tampa General Hospital, Tampa, Florida
Internship with Departments of Neurosurgery and Ophthalmology


The focus is on: (a) innovative molecular detection strategies for genomics, proteomics, and medical diagnostics; and (b) the development of aptamers that can specifically bind to particular proteins found on the surface of cancer cells. The aptamers will then be combined with existing FDA-approved drugs, creating a single molecule called an aptamer-prodrug. Upon binding to their target, these aptamer-prodrugs will release the drug cargo directly into the cell, thereby minimizing systemic toxicity. As a member of the Tan Research Group, his independent research experience included: (a) the thermal ablation of tumors using carbon nanotubes wherein hypothermia is induced in tumor cells by subjecting carbon nanotubes to a radio frequency field once tumor cells uptook the nanotubes. Carbon nanotubes were made target specific to certain cancer cell lines by attaching an aptamer to them; and (b) developing an aptamer for Glioblastoma tumors using cell-SELEX wherein an aptamer is developed using Sytematic Evolution of Ligands by Exponential Enrichment (SELEX) in order to target CD133+ Glioblastoma tumors with the goal of improving drug delivery and imagery enhancement.


At Hunan University, research focused on the development of theranostic, aptamer mediated conjugates. At the core of the conjugates was iron oxide nanoparticles which had functional strands of nucleic acid encapsulating them. One of the strands was an aptamer while another was a disulfide linked antisense strand targeting GFP protein expression. The aptamer would seek out the target, facilitating the cargo being brought to the desired cells. Once the particles were uptaken, the disulfide bond would be cleaved, releasing the active antisense. There was an additional therapeutic aspect to the conjugate resulting from doxorubicin being loaded via hydrophobic interactions. This drug would be released once the conjugates were uptaken by the cells. Imaging and detection of cancer cells could be monitored utilizing the inherent magnetic properties of iron oxide nanoparticles via MRI.


Michael J. Donovan, Ling Meng, Tao Chen, Yunfei Zhang, Kwame Sefah, and Weihong Tan, Aptamer-drug conjugation for targeted cell therapy, Therapeutic Oligonucleotides, Methods in Molecular Biology, Humana Press, Ed: John Goodchild, 2011, 141-152. PMID:21748638.


Michael J. Donovan, Ling Meng, Basri Gulbakan,Yan Chen, Parag Parekh, Kwame Sefah, and Weihong Tan, Aptamer Moieties in Biochemical Applications, Supramolecular Chemistry: From Molecules to Nanomaterials, ISBN: 9780470661345, 2011.


Jun Liu, Huixia Liu, Huaizhi Kang, Michael Donovan, Zhi Zhu, Weihong Tan, Aptamer-incorporated hydrogels for visual detection, controlled drug release, and targeted cancer therapy, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, November, 2011.


Guizhi Zhu , Michael J Donovan , Zilong Zhao , Mao Ye, and Weihong Tan, Nucleic Acid Aptamers: an Emerging Frontier in Cancer Therapy, Chemical Communications, August, 2012, DOI: 10.1039/C2CC35042D.


Rong Hu, Ya-Ru Liu, Rong-Mei Kong, Michael J Donovan, Xiao-Bing Zhang, Weihong Tan, Guo-Li Shen, Ru-Qin Yu, Double-strand DNA-templated formation of copper nanoparticles as fluorescent probe for label free nuclease enzyme detection, Biosensors and Bioelectronics, October, 2012.


Yun Min Chang, Michael J. Donovan, Weihong Tan, Using Aptamers for Cancer Biomarker Discovery, Journal of Nucleic Acids, Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 817350.


Hui Wang, Michael J. Donovan, Ling Meng, Zilong Zhao, Youngmi Kim, Ye Mao, Weihong Tan, DNAzyme-Based Probes for Telomerase Study in Early-Stage Cancer Detection, Chemistry, A European Journal, 2013 Apr 2;19(14):4633-9. DOI: 10.1002/chem.201204440.


Weihong Tan, Michael J. Donovan, Jianhui Jiang, Aptamers from Cell-Based Selection for Bioanalytical Applications, Chemical Reviews, March 19, 2013, DOI: 10.1021/cr300468w.


Guizhi Zhu, Jing Zheng, Erqun Song, Michael Donovan, Kejing Zhang, Chen Liu and Weihong Tan, Self-assembled, Aptamer-tethered DNA Nanotrains for Targeted Transport of Molecular Drugs in Cancer Theranostics, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013, 110.


Zilong Zhao, Hongmin Meng, Nannan Wang, Michael J. Donovan, Ting Fu, Mingxu You, Zhuo Chen, Xiaobing Zhang and Weihong Tan, A Controlled-Release Nanocarrier with Extracellular pH Value Driven Tumor Targeting and Translocation for Drug Delivery, Angewandte Chemie, International Edition, Volume 125, Issue 29, pages 7635–7639, July 15, 2013.


Mingxu You, Guizhi Zhu, Tao Chen, Michael Donovan, and Weihong Tan, Programmable and Multiparameter DNA-based Logic Platform For Cancer Recognition and Targeted Therapy, Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), October 31, 2014, DOI: 10.1021/ja509263k.