Project Info

Project Title: Tuning the surface chemistry of brush-coated nanoparticles to accelerate transport at interfaces: Applications in ocular delivery

Ramya Kumar
Anuj Chauhan

Project Goals and Description:

Eye drops are the most common pathway to deliver drugs to the anterior of the eye. However, very little of the administered drug actually reaches its desired target due predominantly to tear removal. This is not only a problem of wasted therapeutic, as drug clearance can lead to off-targeting side effects. The multilaminate organization of the cornea (epithelium, vitreous humor, endothelium) requires drugs to traverse alternating lipophilic-hydrophilic-lipophilic environments. The project focuses on the synthesis of polymer coated nanoparticles that can switch there hydrophilic/lipophilic character through surface reconstructions of the polymer-brushes. By developing a core-agnostic surface modification strategy for creating stimuli-responsive nanoparticles, a wide range of drugs (regardless of their chemistry) can be effectively transported across the cornea.
Two labs are co-located. Grad student mentor Adam Humpal is coadvised

More Information:

Grand Challenge: Engineer better medicines.
1. Polymer Chemistry 2nd Edition by Hiemenz and Lodge 2. Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization, 2001, Matyjaszewski 3. Environmentally Responsive “Hairy” Nanoparticles: Mixed Homopolymer Brushes on Silica Nanoparticles Synthesized by Living Radical Polymerization Techniques, 2004, Li, Sheng, and Zhao 4. Quartz Crystal Microbalance Studies on Conformational Change of Polymer Chains at Interface, 2009, Zhang and Wu

Primary Contacts:

Adam Humpal Anuj Chauhan, Ramya Kumar,

Student Preparation


The ability to find and understand relevant literature on research topics. The basics of controlled radical polymerization and surface chemistry analysis techniques. Proficiency to work in an academic laboratory and associated lab safety skills.


~8-12 hours per week.


Polymerization, SI-ATRP, ellipsometry, FTIR, interfacial characterization, air-free technique, schlenk line methods


Begin with training of synthesis methods and characterization techniques. Then, transition towards interpreting results and making predictions of what experiments to perform next. If these go well, we will try to find a semi-independent project for the student to focus their efforts on and maybe publish a paper about.

Preferred Student Status

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