Description of field of research:

Used for both the treatment and prevention of disease and infections, antibiotics play an essential role in our society. However, due to the prolonged misuse of antibiotics in therapeutics and agriculture, the evolution and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has become a present and increasing global threat. In addition to the threat to human health and its social implications, the continued proliferation of antibiotic resistant bacteria will affect several major industrial activities in our economy, including agriculture, food industries, as well as water and health services (hospitals and others). By 2050, it is anticipated that drug-resistant infections will cause over 10 million deaths worldwide every year, becoming the leading cause of death and costing the world economy up to USD100 trillion. Accordingly, there is an urgent need for novel therapeutics and effective treatments to prevent the development and spread of such antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Due to the cost and complexity associated with the development of new antibiotics, other antimicrobial agents have been extensively investigated. One of the most promising solutions is the implementation of antimicrobial polymers which can specifically kill bacteria with minimal damage to normal (mammalian) healthy cells. The aim of this project is to investigate the effect of the polymer structures on their antimicrobial activities. In this project, we will use a recent technique of polymerisation (developed by our group) for the preparation of these antimicrobial polymers. We will investigate the polymer structures as well as the composition of these antimicrobial polymers. Our team has published several key papers in the development of antimicrobial polymers (see below the list of references)

Research Area


The research project will be performed in the Australian Centre for Nanomedicine at UNSW and in the school of chemical engineering. The student will have access to a range of analytical instruments for the characterisation of polymers as well as to a biolab (PC2 lab) where antimicrobial test will be performed.

The ToR student will be integrated into a research group. More specifically, the student will learn the synthesis of antimicrobial polymers, their characterisations using gel permeation chromatography, NMR analysis, UV-Vis spectroscopy, etc. The student will also learn to perform basic bio-experiments to determine the antimicrobial efficacy (such as MIC, etc.) of the prepared polymers.

See the links below

Synthetic Antimicrobial Polymers in Combination Therapy: Tackling Antibiotic Resistance; 10.1021/acsinfecdis.0c00635
Effect of hydrophobic groups on antimicrobial and hemolytic activity: Developing a predictive tool for ternary antimicrobial polymers
PT Phuong, S Oliver, J He, EHH Wong, RT Mathers, C Boyer Biomacromolecules 21 (12), 5241-5255
Antibiofilm platform based on the combination of antimicrobial polymers and essential oils
R Namivandi-Zangeneh, Y Yang, S Xu, EHH Wong, C Boyer Biomacromolecules 21 (1), 262-272