Congratulations to CNG postgraduate student Jingqu (Rachel) Chen who is recipient of the 2020 Eugen Singer Award. The Eugen Singer Award was donated by Ms Josephine Singer in memory of her late husband who distinguished himself as a chemical engineer, working in the field of precision engineering associated with the production and processing of polymers. The award thus recognises the academic excellence of research higher degree students engaged in the study of polymers, including their production and processing.
Jingqu’s research centers on material/biological science and the applications of metal–phenolic networks (MPNs), a hybrid supramolecular structure assembled by coordinating metal ions and polyphenols (either naturally occurring or synthetic). Through the development of MPN-based capsules with programmable gating mechanisms, Jingqu’s research has provided fundamental insights into the dynamic nature of metal–phenolic networks (MPNs), as well as providing a strategy to engineer smart delivery systems and selective gating materials (Chem. Mater.2020, 32, 6975). In addition, by exploiting the nanobuffering effects displayed by MPNs, MPN coatings were engineered as a versatile and biological friendly platform to trigger endosomal escape of nanoparticles, which is an important bottleneck for efficient intracellular cargo delivery (ACS Nano2019, 13, 11653).
NIMS postdoc Dr Christina Cortez-Jugo granted an Award for Innovative Mindset
Congratulations to NIMS postdoc Dr Christina Cortez-Jugo on receiving the Award for Innovative Mindset (AIM) by Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) and fara Australia for her project entitled “Nanoparticle-mediated gene delivery of frataxin to neurons.” This project aims to achieve targeted delivery of frataxin DNA to proprioceptors of the dorsal root ganglia through the use of nanoparticles rather than viruses. Effective targeting of specific cells affected in Friedreich’s Ataxia is expected to enable higher concentrations of therapeutic to be delivered where required, thereby reducing dosage, cost of treatment, and side effects.
AIM was designed to promote the exploration of high-risk, high-gain, and potentially ground-breaking concepts in Friedreich’s Ataxia research. The research awards are supported in part by funds raised in the Lend Us Some Muscle campaign. The intent of the award is to inspire creativity, thoughtful reflection, innovation and to advance Friedreich’s Ataxia research.
NIMS research article featured on front cover of Accounts of Chemical Research
NIMS account on ‘Polyphenol-Mediated Assembly for Particle Engineering’ has been featured on the cover of Accounts of Chemical Research. This account discusses the mechanisms behind the polyphenol-mediated assembly of particles by focusing on how different physicochemical interactions (ie, hydrogen bonds, π interactions, hydrophobic effects, coordination, covalent bonds, and electrostatic interactions) can be leveraged to assemble and stabilize polyphenol-based particles. This account aims to serve as a reference for the rational design of polyphenol-based particles using bottom-up strategies for diverse applications in biomedicine, energy, and the environment, and to guide research into the fundamental aspects of polyphenol materials.
Denzil Furtado awarded a Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship
Congratulations to Denzil Furtado, a NIMS postgraduate student, on being awarded a Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship in support of his postgraduate studies aimed at making a difference to Australia in the area of technology and innovation. In addition to receiving financial assistance to undertake his research studies, Denzil will participate in a nine-month Leadership Development Program aimed at developing personal strengths, insights, learning, and inspiration to make his mark on the world.
Denzil’s research project aims to adapt nanotechnologies to serve as reliable platform technologies to treat different diseases affecting similar physiological regions and build on recent technical advances in nanoparticle synthesis, functionalisation and characterisation, and preclinical drug discovery. By engineering robust nanoparticle systems that can penetrate the human body’s most complex biological barriers (eg, the brain–blood barrier) and release compounds in a site-specific manner, Denzil hopes that his research will advance the frontiers of translational nanomedicine research and offer new opportunities for future nanoparticle-based clinical drug development.
NIMS research spotlighted on the cover of JACS
NIMS research has been featured on the cover of the Journal of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and in the journal’s dedicated Spotlights section. This peer-reviewed paper describes a cubosome templating strategy for engineering ordered mesoporous metal–phenolic particles (meso-MPN particles) with a large-pore (∼40 nm) single cubic network (Pm3̅m). The large mesopores allow various cargos eg, biomacromolecules to diffuse into the particles, while the phenolic groups stabilize the cargo, leading to loading amounts that are considerably higher than those achieved by commercially available SiO2 with 50 nm pores. In addition, the enzyme-loaded meso-MPN particles can act as efficient bioreactors, displaying catalytic activities that exceed those prepared from porous silica particles. Coupled with the versality of metal–phenolic systems, this polymer cubosome templating strategy provides a promising methodology for designing a range of meso-MPN particles for various applications.