Development of polymer and nanoparticle-based devices for nanomedicine

Professor Thurecht’s research focusses on the development of polymer and nanoparticle-based devices for nanomedicine. For polymers to be truly effective in nanomedicine, they must incorporate new therapies while maintaining their physical and chemical integrity. This can only be achieved by developing a strong understanding of the fundamental properties of the nanomaterial-delivery system, in addition to identifying and successfully delivering new therapies. Central to the development of these future therapeutic platforms, is the field of theranostics, where molecular imaging plays a key role in understanding the dynamics of polymeric nanomedicines. Prof Thurecht’s team works across the boundaries of chemistry and materials, biology, engineering and imaging science to probe how nanomaterial properties affect their function in complex systems, including living animals. The team particularly focuses on utilising advanced molecular imaging to investigate the intricate interplay between structure and function of nanomaterial in vivo.​ Recently, this has expanded into developing and understanding targeted radiopharmaceuticals for both imaging and therapy. This includes the development of a targeted alpha therapy facility at the University of Queensland to explore this emerging class of highly potent radiotherapeutic.

Professor Kris Thurecht has appointments at AIBN and UQ’s Centre for Advanced Imaging, where he is Deputy Director – Imaging Technologies. He has been recognised for scientific excellence with a 2012 Queensland Young Tall Poppy Science Award and a 2010 UQ Foundation Research Excellence Award for his work in developing polymer ‘theranostics’. In 2015 he was recognised by the Royal Australian Chemical Institute Polymer Division through award of the David Sangster Polymer Science and Technology Award for scientific excellence for a mid-career researcher. Since obtaining his PhD in 2005, he has been the recipient of five competitive national and international fellowships, the latest being an NHMRC CDF, and prior to that award an ARC Future Fellowship. He has contributed scientific and review articles to various leading journals in his field, including invited articles in the Emerging Young Investigator issue of Chemical Communications and a Young Talent article in Macromolecular Chemistry and Physics. Professor Thurecht has been chief investigator on grants from various funding bodies, including ARC Discovery grants; ARC Linkage Grants, with both national and international companies; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants; and funding from various cancer foundations. He is co-inventor on seven patents, some of which are currently under licence by Australian Biotechnology companies. He is the Director of the ARC Research Hub for Advanced Manufacture of Targeted Radiopharmaceuticals and is CI in the ARC Training Centre for Innovation in BioMedical Imaging Technology in which he is theme leader.​ Prof. Thurecht is associated editor for the American Chemical Society journal, Molecular Pharmaceutics and is on the Scientific Advisory Committee for Aegros International.

Collborations and Industry Engagement

Professor Thurecht collaborates extensively across Australia and internationally. Within Australia, he works closely with a number of researchers within the nanomedicine field. In Sydney, this is primarily with Prof. Martina Stenzel and Prof. Maria Kavallaris. In Melbourne he works with researchers at the University of Melbourne (Prof. Frank Caruso, Dr Georgina Such and Prof. Stephen Kent) and at Monash University (Prof. Chris Porter, Dr Angus Johnston and Dr Kristian Kempe). Internationally, Prof. Thurecht has strongest ties with researchers in Europe, mainly Profs. Cameron Alexander, Steve Howdle and Derek Irvine in Nottingham University and Profs. Rachel O'Reilly and Andrew Dove at Birmingham.

Professor Thurecht has a strong focus on industry engagement. Within the ARC Research Hub for Advanced Manufacture of Targeted Radiopharmaceuticals (AMTAR), Prof Thurecht coordinates research spanning the radiopharmaceutical supply chain from radiometal production (CycloWest, AdvanCell Isotopes, ANSTO), to biologics discovery and manufacture (Cytiva, CSIRO) through to innovation in radiotherapeutic manufacture and evaluation (Telix Pharmaceuticals, Clarity Pharmaceuticals, Bayer, GlyTherix, Starpharma, iMAGINE-X) and provision of products to end users (GenesisCare).


Professor Thurecht has been CI on grants worth over $36M, including co-CI in two major ARC Centres. He has been lead CI (CIA) in successful research grants across various schemes, including: ARC Discovery, Linkage, LIEF and Future Fellowship; NHMRC Project grants; and funding from the National Breast Cancer Foundation

Key Publications

Ediriweera, G. R.;  Simpson, J. D.;  Fuchs, A. V.;  Venkatachalam, T. K.;  Van De Walle, M.;  Howard, C. B.;  Mahler, S. M.;  Blinco, J. P.;  Fletcher, N. L.;  Houston, Z. H.;  Bell, C. A.; Thurecht, K. J., Targeted and modular architectural polymers employing bioorthogonal chemistry for quantitative therapeutic delivery. Chemical Science 2020, 11 (12), 3268-3280.

Houston, Z. H.;  Bunt, J.;  Chen, K.-S.;  Puttick, S.;  Howard, C. B.;  Fletcher, N. L.;  Fuchs, A. V.;  Cui, J.;  Ju, Y.;  Cowin, G.;  Song, X.;  Boyd, A. W.;  Mahler, S. M.;  Richards, L. J.;  Caruso, F.; Thurecht, K. J., Understanding the Uptake of Nanomedicines at Different Stages of Brain Cancer Using a Modular Nanocarrier Platform and Precision Bispecific Antibodies. ACS Central Science 2020. 6(5), 727.

Daniel, S.; Houston, Z.; Fletcher, N.; Bell, C.; Atcheson, N.; Al-Najjar, A.; Howard, C.; Mahler, S.; Thurecht KJ. Canine PET-CT imaging with 64-Cu-Nanomedicines. Journal of Nuclear Medicine. 2020, 61, 3128.

Simpson, J. D.;  Ediriweera, G. R.;  Howard, C. B.;  Fletcher, N. L.;  Bell, C. A.; Thurecht, K. J., Polymer design and component selection contribute to uptake, distribution & trafficking behaviours of polyethylene glycol hyperbranched polymers in live MDA-MB-468 breast cancer cells. Biomaterials Science 2019, 7 (11), 4661-4674.

Amal J Sivaram, Andri Wardiana, Sheilajen Alcantara, Stefan E Sonderegger, Nicholas L Fletcher, Zachary H Houston, Christopher B Howard, Stephen M Mahler, Cameron Alexander, Stephen J Kent, Craig A Bell, Kristofer J Thurecht. Controlling the biological fate of micellar nanoparticles: Balancing stealth and targeting. ACS nano 2020, 14, 10, 13739-13753.

Barbara E Rolfe, Idriss Blakey, Oliver Squires, Hui Peng, Nathan RB Boase, Cameron Alexander, Peter G Parsons, Glen M Boyle, Andrew K Whittaker, Kristofer J Thurecht. Multimodal Polymer Nanoparticles with Combined 19F Magnetic Resonance and Optical Detection for Tunable, Targeted, Multimodal Imaging in Vivo. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136, 6, 2413–2419

Full list of publications available on espace