Synergy of material- and bio- sciences


The Material- and Biosciences Group, led by AIBN Director and ARC Laureate fellow Professor Alan Rowan, brings together the seemingly distant disciplines of physics material- and bio- sciences to understand the intricacies of cell behaviour and their extracellular environments.

Comprised of scientists with backgrounds in cell biology, chemistry, physics and materials science the Biomaterials Group tackles the fundamental biophysical questions behind cell and extracellular matrix behaviour.

With access to state-of-the-art equipment within the group and in AIBN, we are taking the challenge of understanding how exactly the material properties of the extracellular matrices are translated into intracellular response and signalling. For this reason, we are focused on the synthesis of synthetic polymeric, well-defined natural and hybrid matrices and the development of methodologies on how to study the cell–material interactions in close detail.





Affiliated Researchers



  • Bioactivation of Matrices

    Cells operate in a synergistic way with their chemical and physical microenvironments. We have a variety of projects focused on studying this critical interface. For example cells in vivo do not grow on plastic, so we use matrices to provide an in vivo 3D physical environment.

  • Developing 3D Cellular Matrices

    Cells operate in a synergistic way with their chemical and physical environments. We have a variety of projects investigating the interface of cells and their physical environment and how this contributes to dynamic cellular behaviour.

  • Wound Healing

    The process of wound healing is a series of overlapping biological events working in synergy with the chemical and physical environments to bring about a coordinated process.

  • Biophysics of Fertility

    The cells of the uterus; endometrial stromal cells make an essential transformation to decidual cells (secretory cell type) which marks the beginning of placental development. These cells are mechano-responsive, and this cellular transformation can be induced by physical force in vivo.

  • Investigating the role of extracellular matrix In stem cell differentiation

    The extracellular matrix (ECM) is an integral component of the cellular microenvironment, where it has a direct influence on cell behaviour based upon its physico-chemical properties.

  • Undergraduate project: Flexible magnetic films

    Magnetic flexible films featuring combined structural configuration of porosity, with good stability and mechanical properties and low cost, are a promising substrate material for flexible electronics.

  • Undergraduate project: Amphiphilic nanoparticles

    Nanocelluloses are the building blocks of plants and comprise the whole class of nanofibrillated cellulose and cellulose nanocrystals, with structures similar to uncooked spaghetti and rice, respectively.

  • Undergraduate project: Magnetic Hydrogel

    Hydrogel is a cross‐linked polymeric network containing more than 90% water. There are growing interests in hydrogel research due to its biocompatibility and advantage as a carrier, which is very beneficial for the biomedical applications.

  • Honours Project: Visualization of cellular response to external force

    Cells are able to sense and respond to external mechanical stimuli from their surrounding extracellular matrix (ECM) via a process called mechanotransduction.

  • Honours Project: Investigation of the early inflammatory responses to haemostatic agents used to control bleeding.

    Wound healing is a coordinated and overlapping series of biological events responding to the site of injury.


In the fields of biomimetic catalysis and functional materials, our group has had the privilege of working with some of world’s best departments and institutes: ISIS Strasbourg, Imperial College London, Cambridge University and Oxford University, Max Plank Mainz Germany and KULeuven Belgium, all renowned Centres of academic excellence. This includes collaborations with, and mentorship from, leading figures in the field such as Prof C.A. Hunter, Prof R.J.M Nolte, Prof R. Friend, Prof K. Muellen and Nobel Laureate Prof J.M. Lehn. Key international collaborators include; Prof. M. Stevens (Imperial College, London), Prof. F. Macintosh (UVA Amsterdam), Prof O. Ikkala (University of Helsinki), Prof J. Hofkens (KULeuven Belgium), Prof M. Mueller (Aachen Germany), Dr. Kerstin Blank (Max Plank Institute, Potsdam), Prof. Stefan Egelhaaf (HHU, Dusseldorf). In addition to academic collaboration our group is also involved in collaborations with industrial partners, NovioTech and NovioSense (Nijmegen, The Netherlands).

*articles with star directly relate to our current research focus