Remediation of Emerging Global Contaminants

 Supervisor  Dr Cheng Zhang and Dr Xiao Tan

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a family of highly persistent chemicals that are linked to a number of human diseases, however existing approaches for removal of PFAS are highly inefficient. This project aims to develop and evaluate novel, reusable polymer sorbents for effective PFAS removal. The polymer sorbents will enable efficient, selective and continuous sorption of PFAS, while maintaining excellent environmental stability for long-term implementation in practical devices. The project will develop novel polymer sorbents to revolutionize the remediation of PFAS with high technical, economic and environmental feasibility, creating a pathway to a PFAS-free world, and ultimately protecting the natural environment.

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Precision Polymer Chemistry

 Supervisor  Dr Cheng Zhang

The design and development of new agents that enable or enhance the passage of drugs and probes across biological barriers is a goal of unsurpassed significance in the search for improved imaging molecules, diagnostics and therapies. However, the development of highly-effective molecular transporters is hindered by current synthetic strategies. As such, it is critical to be able to prepare novel monodisperse molecular transporters (Ð=1) with precise structures, compositions, and function, which are essential for their special and unique transport properties. In this project, a versatile and scalable strategy for the preparation of discrete (monodisperse) materials will be developed. This approach enables the combination of facile polymerization procedures and ubiquitous purification processes. Different types of well-defined oligomers with different charges will be synthesized and their interaction and internalization with cells will be further demonstrated.

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Advanced Molecular Imaging for Disease Detection

 Supervisor  Dr Cheng Zhang

The aim of this project is to develop new magnetic resonance (MR) molecular imaging strategies that will enable the in vivo monitoring of biological processes. Specifically, we will develop novel fluorinated polymers for imaging of early markers of diseases such as melanoma, prostate cancer, malignant glioma and Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, the project involves the synthesis of new partly-fluorinated polymers having controlled architecture for the rapidly developing field of 19F MRI. Other imaging modalities, drugs and targeting ligands will be conjugated. The project aims to relate the structure of the macromolecules, determined carefully using advanced techniques such as NMR, light scattering, GPC, AFM and electron microscopy, to the performance as imaging agents. The agents will be tested in small animal (mouse) models of disease already developed by this group and our collaborators.

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