Salma specialises in the design, synthesis, optimisation, and in vitro and in vivo characterisation of nanoparticles (e.g., liposomes, micelles and polymersomes, hydrogels) used for drug delivery.

Salma's research interests revolve around the development of multifunctional materials for biomedical applications utilising bottom-up approaches. During her PhD, Salma has made significant headway in developing and validating novel functional, pH-degradable diblock copolymers that were able to form several “soft”, active, and adaptive higher-order structures, including micelles, rods, polymersomes, stomatocytes, and dimeric and trimeric clusters. Salma then isolated micelles (~25 nm) and polymersomes (~100 nm) and utilised them in sequestering and delivering numerous chemotherapeutic agents for cancer treatment, after modifying them with crosslinkers, Cy5 fluorescence probes and BsAb targeting molecules. She also used these systems to interrogate breast cancer cells in vitro and small animals bearing xenograft models in vivo. So far, the fruits of her PhD resulted in one research article published in the Journal of polymer Chemistry, with 4 other manuscripts at different stages of the publication pipeline.
Salma Elgaili Ahmed is a final-stage PhD candidate of bioengineering under the supervision of Prof. Kristofer Thurecht at The University of Queensland, Australia. Her chemical engineering background combined with her MSc and PhD training inspired her to work in the interface of engineering and materials science to develop next-generation tools for drug delivery. Salma has worked within highly interdisciplinary teams and developed myriads of nanocarriers, including echogenic liposomes, temperaturesensitive hydrogels, and pH-triggered polymeric nanoparticles; for applications including precision cancer therapy, diabetes treatment and miRNA delivery. Salma is highly dedicated to her field. She has earned several accolades, including a 2022 CAS Future Leaders fellowship from the American Chemical Society, full MSc and PhD scholarships, AMRSC from the Royal Society of Chemistry, and various other sci-com, travel and publication awards. She is also a skilled communicator, where she has produced several high-impact publications, won several 3MT competitions and presented her research at prestigious conferences and platforms. Salma is an active member of the wider community and is dynamically involved in teaching and mentoring students in STEM fields. She was also a TEDxOmdurman Speaker, a TEDxUQ Curator and Mentor, and an accredited MHFAider. As she approaches the end of her PhD, Salma is eager to embark on the next phase of her career. She is excited to apply her skills and knowledge to solve real-world problems in both academia and industry.


​During her PhD, Salma was invited to undertake a 6-week industrial placement under the supervision of A/Prof Jess Frith and Prof Laurence Meagher in a joint project between CSIRO, Monash Institute of Medical Engineering and the SPARK Monash Translational Research Program. Therein, she developed temperature-sensitive and miRNA-loaded hydrogels to accelerate wound treatment for patients with diabetes. Despite the relatively short duration of this internship, she was able to design and execute a realistic work plan, which resulted in producing a number of hydrogel platforms. She conducted miRNA loading and release experiments from these hydrogels, performed in vitro viability studies using immortalised human cells, and designed skin models to mimic the expected in vivo release scenarios as a pre-step towards initiating in vivo experiments.
This project enabled her to develop professional skills related to conducting research within an industrial setting, in addition to developing critical skills related to data analysis, material characterisation and product commercialisation. It also demonstrated her ability to quickly adapt to a new research environment and contribute meaningfully as a part of a multidisciplinary team, where she is listed as a co-author on a manuscript that is currently under preparation. Additionally, this placement helped her build her technical capability and professional competency in the application side of scientific discovery. She also got the chance to learn about market strategy as she transferred her learned skills into this area.


​As a team player, Salma has participated in various collaborations with members of Thurecht Group as well as from other life sciences and engineering departments, within and outside UQ. Her contributions led to developing new ideas and approaches to expand the knowledge in the field, such as her latest innovative collaboration, which led to developing new ways to studying polymersomes morphological changes and dynamic behaviour in their native liquid environment; using encapsulated gold nanoclusters as contrast agents, liquid cell transmission electron microscopy and confocal laser scanning microscopy as visualisation tools, and dynamic simulation techniques as a quantitative tool for data analysis. During her PhD, Salma also participated in a project aiming to compare micelles and polymersomes performance in 2D cell culture vs 3D organoid culture using microfluidic devices.

Finally, Salma has collaborated with a number of 2022 CAS Future Leaders in writing an editorial piece addressing mentorship relationships in STEM fields, which will be published soon in ACS Central Science.

Key Publications

  1. ​Ahmed, Salma E., Nicholas L. Fletcher, Amber R. Prior, Pie Huda, Craig A. Bell, and Kristofer J. Thurecht. "Development of targeted micelles and polymersomes prepared from degradable RAFT-based diblock copolymers and their potential role as nanocarriers for chemotherapeutics." Journal of Polymer Chemistry 13, no. 27 (2022): 4004-4017.​
  2. Ahmed, Salma E., Ana M. Martins, and Ghaleb A. Husseini. "The use of ultrasound to release chemotherapeutic drugs from micelles and liposomes." Journal of drug targeting 23, no. 1 (2015): 16-42.
  3. Moussa, Hesham G., Ghaleb A. Husseini, Nabil Abel-Jabbar, and Salma E. Ahmad. "Use of model predictive control and artificial neural networks to optimize the ultrasonic release of a model drug from liposomes." IEEE transactions on nanobioscience 16, no. 3 (2017): 149-156.
  4. Ahmed, Salma E., Hesham G. Moussa, Ana M. Martins, Mohammad H. Al-Sayah, and Ghaleb A. Husseini. "Effect of pH, ultrasound frequency and power density on the release of calcein from stealth liposomes." European Journal of Nanomedicine 8, no. 1 (2016): 31-43.
  5. Ahmed, Salma E., Nahid Awad, Vinod Paul, Hesham G. Moussa, and Ghaleb A. Husseini. "Improving the efficacy of anticancer drugs via encapsulation and acoustic release." Current topics in medicinal chemistry 18, no. 10 (2018): 857-880.