Biologics such as nucleic acids and proteins play an increasingly important role in modern healthcare approaches (e.g. RNA vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, immunotherapy for treating cancer etc.) by providing mechanisms for highly specific and selective treatment of a host of disease states. A significant limitation of such approaches is associated with the instability of these biological therapeutics to physical, chemical and environmental stresses. As a result, the global distribution of such therapies represents a significant public health challenge due to the economic and logistical challenges of cold-chain transportation particularly to remote, low-resourced or otherwise difficult to access regions. In this project, you will exploit advances in high throughput polymer synthesis to produce novel polymeric adjuvants designed to protect sensitive therapeutics (enzymes and/or RNA) from environmental stresses. This will involve identifying the key structure-activity relationships that lead to retention (or even enhancement) of biological activity under a range of environmental stresses. The knowledge gained from this project will provide significant steps towards the development of a simple and cost-effective approach for alleviating the burdens associated with cold-chain transportation of sensitive therapeutics.


Biomedical Engineering

Research Area

Biomaterials | Polymer synthesis | Material science

In this project, you will work closely with Dr. Jonathan Yeow and A/Prof Megan Lord in a dynamic multidisciplinary research environment within the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering. In doing so, you will gain valuable laboratory experience in the synthesis and characterisation of (bio)materials as well as transferable skills in problem solving, collaboration, and data analysis.

This project will develop new knowledge in our understanding of how polymers can be better engineered to stabilise the activity of biological molecules and will contribute towards ongoing research within the group.

Associate Professor Megan Lord
Associate Professor
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  • "Yeow, J., Chapman, R., Gormley. A. J., Boyer, C., Up in the air: oxygen tolerance in controlled/living radical polymerisation. Chem. Soc. Rev. 2018, 47, 4357.
  • Kim, H., Yeow, J., Najer, A., Kit-Anan, W., Wang, R., Rifaie-Graham, O., Thanapongpibul, C., Stevens, M. M., Microliter Scale Synthesis of Luciferase-Encapsulated Polymersomes as Artificial Organelles for Optogenetic Modulation of Cardiomyocyte Beating. Adv. Sci. 2022, 9, 2200239.
  • Rifaie-Graham, O., Yeow, J., Najer, A. et al. Photoswitchable gating of non-equilibrium enzymatic feedback in chemically communicating polymersome nanoreactors. Nat. Chem. 2023, 15, 110."