Applying nanotechnology to chronic pain management.

My research is an emerging field, focusing on applying nanotechnology to chronic pain management. To date, I have established five different techniques to produce painkiller–loaded nanoparticles and nanofibers aimed at improving pain relief for patients where currently available pain-killers either lack efficacy or produce dose-limiting side-effects. For example, there is a small and very potent peptide that has been on the market as a chemical for over 10 years but which cannot be used as a therapeutic due to its short half-life and poor oral bioavailability. In the form of my nanoparticles, that peptide has the potential to become an oral treatment for improving pain management in patients whose pain is currently poorly alleviated by clinically used pain-killers. I have significant expertise in the use of rodent pain models to assess novel analgesics, and I have received excellent training in conducting research in accordance with the stringent requirements of the Quality Management System (quality accreditations (GLP and ISO17025) from NATA). Together, my knowledge, skills and experience will facilitate the efficient translation of my research from the bench to the clinic.

The current focus of the lab is on the development of drug-products to solve one of the largest unmet medical needs in the pain field through the use of sustainable materials. 1) We are developing multifunctional sutures including biodegradable pain relief sutures. 2) We are developing my innovative novel nanoparticles, which deliver innate-immune targeting peptides for the treatment of cancer and cancer-related pain. We are establishing a platform for the development of safe, effective delivery for other small molecule peptide drugs, in general, to pave their way to clinical trials. 3) Our research also investigates the role of C5a and C3a, as well as others in the pathogenesis of chronic pain including neuropathic pain, cancer-related pain, low back pain and OA pain.

We work in collaboration with other leading Australian and international researchers to stay at the forefront of the drug delivery systems field and the pain field. We also provide a preclinical evaluation of novel compounds and formulations.

​My research interests sit at the interface of drug delivery and the pain field. My overarching research goal is to improve the quality of day to day life of patients suffering from chronic pain, by applying nanotechnology to the development of novel highly effective pain-killer products for improving chronic pain management. 

I also enjoy volunteering within the academic community, most notably as Head of the SBMS ECR Committee and Treasurer for The Queensland Chinese Association of Scientists and Engineers (QCASE). I am currently serving as guest editor of Pain Research and Management.


​2016-2019 Upperton Limited, and Critical Pharmaceuticals Ltd, BioCity Nottingham, Nottingham, England. NHMRC project "Novel prolonged-release polymeric microparticles for relief of intractable cancer-related pain" 

2015 ARC/Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH Linkage Project "Efficacy Profiling Innovation in Novel Pain Therapeutics Discovery"

2011-2014 ARC/ Eli lily Linkage project "Novel polymeric microparticles for slow-release intrathecal delivery of analgesics"


  • ​Prof Steve Howdle (UK). School of Chemistry, University of Nottingham, Nottingham
  • Prof Xingyu Jiang (China) National Center for Nanoscience and Technology, The Chinese Academic of Science; and Department of Biomedical Engineering, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen
  • Prof Daniela Salvemini (USA) School of Medicine, St. Louis University
  • A/Prof Paul Gray (Hospital) The Professor Tess Cramond Multidisciplinary Pain Centre, Australia and Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital
  • Prof Yin Xiao and Dr Indira Prasadam (QUT) School of Mech., Medical & Process Engineering, and Institute of Health Biomedical Innovation (IHBI)
  • A/Prof Hang Ta and Dr Linlin Ma (GU) School of Environment and Science
  • A/Prof David Harrich and Dr Min-Hsuan Lin, Dr Dongsheng Li (QIMR) HIV Molecular Virology Lab
  • Em. Prof Maree Smith, Prof Trent Woodruff and Prof Chen Chen (UQ) School of Biomedical Science
  • Prof Paul Mills (UQ) School of Veterinary Science
  • Dr Tushar Kumeria (UNSW) School of Materials Science and Engineering, University of New South Wales-Sydney
  • Dr Harendra Parekh and James R. Falconer (UQ) School of Pharmacy


​HaBS-Medicine Research Collaboration Seeding Grant 2019
SBMS Internal Collaborative Grants Scheme 2018

Key Publications

Weizhi Xu, Zonglan Zhao, James Falconer, Andrew K. Whittaker, Amirali Popat, Maree Smith, Tushar Kumeria and Felicity Y Han* (2021). Sustained Release Ketamine Porous Silicon-PLGA Microparticles Prepared by Optimized the Supercritical CO2 Process. Drug Deliv Transl Res. DOI: 10.1007/s13346-021-00991-w

Felicity Y Han, Galena Rybachenko, Lisa-Conboy-Schmidt and Karin Borges (2020). Dietary MCTs for management of epilepsy: new data from human, dog and rodent studies. Epilepsia, 62 (8) epi.16972, 1790-1806. doi: 10.1111/epi.16972.

Zhu, Minze, Whittaker, Andrew K., Jiang, Xingyu, Tang, Rupei, Li, Xuanyu, Xu, Weizhi, Fu, Changkui, Smith, Maree T and Han Felicity Y* (2020). Use of Microfluidics to Fabricate Bioerodable Lipid Hybrid Nanoparticles Containing Hydromorphone or Ketamine for the Relief of Intractable Pain. Pharmaceutical Research, 37 (10) 211, 211. doi: 10.1007/s11095-020-02939-0.

Felicity Y. Han*, Yun Liu, Vinod Kumar, Weizhi Xu, Guangze Yang, Chun-Xia Zhao, Trent M. Woodruff, Andrew K. Whittaker, Maree T. Smith (2020). Sustained-release ketamine-loaded nanoparticles fabricated by sequential nanoprecipitation. International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 581 (2020) 119291 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpharm.2020.119291

Felicity Y Han, Andrew Whittaker, Steve Howdle, Andrew Naylor, Anjumn Shabir-Ahmed, Maree Smith (2019). Sustained-Release Hydromorphone Microparticles Produced using Supercritical CO2 Micronization Technology. J Pharm Sci. doi: 10.1016/j.xphs.2018.09.021.

Full list of publications available on espace