Soft and Hard materials, drug delivery and controlled release

Associate Professor Chun-Xia Zhao's research focuses on the development of biomolecule-templating technology and microfluidic platform technology for making novel bio-inspired functional materials for applications in drug delivery and controlled release. Her research discoveries have led to four patented technologies. The biomolecule-templating technology she co-invented opens a new strategy for fabricating next-generation core-shell materials in a sustainable and biocompatible way. Her breakthrough microfluidic mass transfer control technology offers a facile but unique approach for turning single emulsions into complex emulsions using only a simple T-junction microfluidic device. Based on these two technologies, her group has developed facile and scalable methods for producing libraries of multifunctional materials for drug delivery and controlled release, and has been developing tissue chips to evaluate these systems with the ultimate goal of accelerating their clinical translation. Current areas of focus include multifunctional nanomaterials for targeted drug delivery, bioinspired silica capsules for controlled release, and in vivo mimicking tissue chips for screening and evaluating nanomaterials.

Associate Professor Chun-Xia Zhao is an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow and Group leader at Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at The University of Queensland, Australia. She leads a research team with a focus on bio-inspired engineering and microfluidics. She has been focusing on innovative research as evidenced by her four patents. Associate Professor Zhao’s research has attracted more than $2.7 M in research funding since 2011, including four Australian Research Council projects as the lead investigator, two national prestigious fellowship (Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship and ARC Future Fellowship), and seven UQ grants. Associate Professor Zhao has been recognised for scientific excellence with a 2016 UQ Foundation Research Excellence Award. She has built extensive collaborations with scientists at top universities such as Harvard University, Cornell University, etc. She was invited to visit Harvard University as a Fellow of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. She also serves as the Editor-in-Chief, Editorial Board member for several journals. 

Industry Engagement

Associate Professor Zhao has been active in patent applications to transfer her research into practical applications, as evidenced by her four patents. Currently, her team has been translating their technologies into practical applications in collaboration with industry partners. She has been collaborating with Vaxine Pty Ltd to develop nanoparticle-based adjuvant for improved vaccines, and collaboring with Bioproton to develop better enzyme encapsulation technology. 


Associate Professor Zhao has collaborated extensively with top scientists in leading institutions (Harvard University, Cornell University, Fudan University, Zhejiang University, Tianjian University, etc.)

Key Publications

​Guang-Ze Yang, David Wibowo, Jung-Ho Yun, Lian-Zhou Wang, Anton P.J. Middelberg, Chun-Xia Zhao*. Biomimetic Silica Nanocapsules for Tunable Sustained Release and Cargo Protection. Langmuir, 2017, 33(23):5777-5785.

Rui Ran, Anton P.J. Middelberg, Chun-Xia Zhao*. Microfluidic synthesis of multifunctional liposomes for tumour targeting. Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces, 2016, 148 402-410.

David Wibowo, Yue Hui, Anton P.J. Middelberg, Chun-Xia Zhao*. Interfacial engineering for silica nanocapsules. Advances Colloid and Interface Science. 2016, 236 83-100.

Chun-Xia Zhao*. Multiphase flow microfluidics for the production of single or multiple emulsions for drug delivery.Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews. 2013, 65: 1420-1446. (Invited paper).

Chun-Xia Zhao, Anton P.J. Middelberg. Microfluidic mass-transfer control for the simple formation of complex multiple emulsions. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2009, 48: 1-5.


2015-2018Chun-Xia Zhao. Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowship. Platform technologies for multifunctional nanocarrier systems.
2017Chun-Xia Zhao. UQ Foundation Research Excellence Award.Tumour-on-a-chip - next generation in vitro model for accelerating the translation of nanomedicines. 
2017UQ Major Equipment and Infrastructure. Laser Scanning Microscopy facility Upgrade
2016-2017Chun-Xia Zhao, Anton Middelberg. UQ Collaboration and Industry Engagement Fund. Platform technologies for next generation single dose vaccine delivery.
2015-2016Chun-Xia Zhao.  UQ Advancing Women Researchers Grants. 
2015-2017Chun-Xia Zhao, Anton Middelberg, Zhengzhong Shao. ARC Discovery Project. Next generation core-shell materials based on biomolecular dual-templating.
2016UQ Major Equipment and Infrastructure, Exosome and Bio/Nanoparticle Characterisation Facility 
2015-2018Chun-Xia Zhao, Prof. Nikolai Petrovsky. ARC Linkage Project. Engineering improved technology for nanoparticle-based adjuvant manufacture. (Research partner: Vaxine, Pty Ltd ) 
2011-2014Chun-Xia Zhao, ARC Discovery Project (along with the awarding of APD). Engineered nanoporous materials and composites having hierarchical structures by emulsion templating. 
2012Chun-Xia Zhao, UQ Early Career Research Grants. pH-responsive core-shell mesoporous silica nanocomposites for bioimaging and targeted drug delivery. 
2011Chun-Xia Zhao, UQ New Staff Research Start-up Fund. Biomimetic synthesis of inorganic nanoparticles using microfluidic crystals.