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Projects

Our research program is focused on designing polymeric biomaterials and bioinspired materials. Our current focus areas are:

  • Smart Polymers for Delivery of Genetic Material: We have designed and synthesized novel smart bioinspired multi-block copolymers that exhibit pH and temperature sensitivity. These polymers are cationic and undergo thermoreversible gelation at body temperatures These cationic polymers exhibit complexation with nucleic acids and serve as excellent injectable sustained delivery vectors of combiantions of miRNA or siRNA with chemotherapeutic agents for pancreatic cancer therapies. These copolymers also exhibit selective transfection in cancer cells.
  • Polymers for Vaccine Delivery: This project focuses on developing sustained vaccine delivery devices for single-dose sub-unit vaccines. We have designed virus-mimicking block copolymer-based nanovaccines for influenza that act as effective adjuvants  to stimulate the immune system and confer protection.
  • Bioinspired Nanocomposites: This multi-investigator project focuses on the synthesis as well as the hierarchical self-assembly of nanoparticles into 2D and 3D structures using a combination of stimuli-responsive synthetic block copolymers and biomolecules.
  • Combating Neurodegeneration: Our approach involves utilizing a combination of physical, chemical, biological and electrical cues on polymer substrates to facilitate peripheral nerve regeneration, and control adult stem cell differentiation to combat neurodegeneration. Our recent work has showed that physical cues in the form of micropatterned substrates, in synergy with other cues such as electrical, can control differentiation of adult stem cells. We are also developing strategies to deliver therapeutics across the blood-brain barrier to combat neurodegeneration.

 

We are grateful to the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for support