RAPS 2017

By Aram Saeed – University of East Anglia

The 18th Recent Appointee in Polymer Science (RAPS) was organised by Dr Aram Saeed at the School of Pharmacy, University of East Anglia from 6 to 8 September 2017, supported by UEA conference team. The scientific programme spread over three days and the conference was attended by a diverse group of a recent appointees including academics, industrialists and postdocs working in polymer chemistry area.

Dr Saeed, the conference chair, said: “This year’s meeting has been a real excitement for me to bring the thriving community of RAPS here to the School of Pharmacy and University of East Anglia”.

RAPS community is a hot spot for emerging academics in polymer science to become the future leader in the field. This year we had a diverse range of speakers, including invited plenary speakers from UEA, British Petroleum, Knowledge Transfer Network, Neotherix limited, Dupont Teijin Films and Prof Wayne Hayes from the University of Reading, to give a broad-spectrum view of the current field and future challenges. Dr Saeed continues, “The quality of the presentations and posters have been of very high standards”. Dr Saeed would like to thank all the attendees, and  sponsors, in particular Agilent Technologies, Radleys, Polymer Physics Group, and MACRO Group UK. Both Agilent Technologies and Radleys had exhibition throughout the programme, with Dr Raj Bhardwaj providing support and recommendation on challenges facing complex polymer characterisation. The best poster prize was presented by Dr Bhardwaj to Dr Lewis Hart from the University of Reading.

RAPS 2017

Dr Saeed said the social dinners organised at Vista, and The Refectory at Norwich Cathedral has been well-received and enjoyed by all parties, and thanks to the UEA conference team for this organisation.

Recent Appointees in Polymer Science (RAPS) is a network for young academic and industrial scientists working in any area of polymer science. RAPS membership is free and extended to all those in the early stage of their career, typically those within six years of starting their first permanent academic or industrial post, as well as research fellows and postdoctoral researchers who are keen to progress on a scientific track.

Dr Aram Saeed is a lecturer in Drug Delivery and Tissue Engineering at the School of Pharmacy, University of East Anglia. .


Ottewill International Travel Scholarship 2017

By Qian Sun  (University of Cambridge) who attended the 7th International Colloids Conference in Barcelona, Spain (18-21 June 2017)

The “7th International Colloids Conference” was organized by the Elsevier. Since my research concerns making colloidosomes, this conference provided a great opportunity for me to meet and communicate with many other researches sharing relevant research areas. In the conference, I presented my PhD research on “Aqueous Core Colloidosomes with a Metal Shell” by poster. Our work focuses on the formation of aqueous core colloidosomes with a silver or gold shell, which are impermeable. Metal coated colloidosomes are prepared by taking aqueous core polymer shell capsules and adding AgNO3 with L-ascorbic acid for silver shells or HAuCl4 with L-ascorbic acid for gold shells. The resulting capsules are triggered using ultrasound. In addition, we used the colloidosomes to encapsulate cargos such as doxorubicin, an anticancer drug, for cell viability tests.

The polymer shells are fully covered with either silver or gold particles, sealing the core. The diameter of the water core is between 0.7 µm and 2 µm. The silver or gold shells have a low cytotoxicity, but after triggering, the doxorubicin and broken metal fragments kill cells. This shows the possibility of using these capsules in targeted cancer treatment.

Barcelona 2017

Figure (a) SEM image of the silver coated colloidosomes; (b) SEM image of the gold coated colloidosomes; (c) CLSM images of silver coated colloidosomes loading doxorubicin hydrochloride and (d) the ones after 120 s ultrasound treatment; (e) the release percentage of Allura Red dye from colloidosomes sealed with a silver shell, polymer shell and left unsealed (error bars of the standard error of measurements, typically ±3%, are not shown for clarity).

The conference included 378 participates, including 20 invited speakers, from 48 countries presenting their recent work in the colloids area. It provided me with a very valuable learning experience and it was an excellent opportunity to listen and communicate with other researchers, including high-ranking, world-leading scientists. In addition, the poster sessions presented many fresh and exciting results, which will form the foundations for new research themes. Consequently, I have met a number of academics and professionals from different countries who have similar research interests such as emulsions, nano-medicine and drug delivery, sensing, and advanced materials.

I would like to thank the Ottewill International Travel Scholarship Committee for funding me to attend the conference, which was very interesting and enriched my experience with more knowledge and confidence.



DH Richards Travel Bursary Report 2018

RSC Bio 2018By Dr. Maria M. Pérez-Madrigal (University of Warwick) who attended the 2018 RSC Biomaterials Chemistry Special Interest Group meeting in Bradford.

The RSC Biomaterials Chemistry Special Interest Group was set up back in 2005 to provide a focus for groups in UK universities and industry working on the synthesis and characterization of biomaterials. Among others, the group main objective is to enhance the understanding of the chemistries underlying the use of biomaterials in applications including prostheses, drug delivery and regenerative medicine. To that end, meetings are organized annually to promote biomaterials chemistry research and development, enhance existing links, foster new collaborations and spread expertise.

This year, the RSC Biomaterials Special Interest Group Annual Meeting 2018 was held in Bradford on the 10th-11th of January in the elegant and relaxing Great Victoria hotel. The event featured two days fully scheduled with three plenary lectures given by Prof. Mark Bradley, Prof. Andrew P. Dove, and Prof. Rein V. Ulijn. In addition, 27 contributed lectures and a full poster session with flash talks included gave the participants the opportunity to present their new research, discuss data during coffee breaks and share inspiring ideas over lunch. Indeed, talks and posters were of an incredibly high quality and displayed the innovative research currently carried out in this important and growing area of chemistry. More specifically, we learnt about 3D printing, superglues, polymeric core-shell nanoparticles, as well as peptide-based hydrogels for tissue engineering applications or tailored for cartilage regeneration in particular.

With the support of the D.H. Richards Memorial Bursary, awarded by the Macro Group UK, I was able to attend the meeting and give a talk about our latest contribution on “Nonswelling Thiol-Yne Cross-Linked Hydrogel Materials as Cytocompatible Soft Tissue Scaffolds” (Biomaterials 2017, DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.7b01204). Besides, Dr. Maria Chiara Arno, also from the Dove group, gave an interesting talk on “Precision Epitaxy for Aqueous 1D and 2D Poly(ɛ-caprolactone) Assemblies” (JACS 2017, 139, 16980).

Overall, the occasion was a great success, which was evidenced by the active discussions and excellent questions from the audience. This event is an essential opportunity to build the biomaterials community across the UK, so do not miss the next one in Liverpool January 2019!


DH Richards Travel Bursary Report 2017

By  Patrick de Jongh (University of Warwick) who attended the 254th ACS National Meeting & Exposition in Washington DC 

In August 2017, I had the fortunate opportunity to attend the 254th ACS National Meeting, which was held in Washington DC. This meeting attracted around 12.000 chemist from all fields to discuss their latest scientific discoveries. The first half of the conference was packed with a large choice of interesting lectures from world-renowned chemist from around the globe, including Craig Hawker, Robert Waymouth, Jan van Hest and Ulrich Schubert, just to name a few. A special mention should go to some of the award sessions, where the invited speakers would start usually start their talks with entertaining anecdotes about the prize winner, as well as a highly interesting plenary session co-organised with NASA about their intended journey to Mars, which included a lecture by former astronaut Janet Kavandi. In the second half of the conference the speakers shifted more towards young scientist, from undergrads to post-docs. This gave me the opportunity to give my first oral presentation at a conference on my work on the synthesis and properties of novel N-acylated poly(aminoester) materials, which was a great experience. In addition, attending this ACS meeting provided me with some interesting ideas for future work and the opportunity to meet new people, as well as the opportunity to see some of the US capital. I would like to thank my supervisors, Dave Haddleton and Kristian Kempe, for letting me present my work at this conference, the ACS for organising the conference and giving me the possibility to present my work and the Macro Group DH Richards Memorial Bursary for financial support.

ACS 2017

DH Richards Travel Bursary Report 2017

By Laura MacDougall – University of Warwick who attended the 254th American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition in Washington D.C.

The 254th American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition was held in Washington D.C. from the 20th-24th August 2017. The meeting brought together the chemistry community from across the globe to present and discuss a wide range of chemistry areas with a theme of ‘Chemistry impact on the global economy’. I would like to thank Macro Group UK for kindly awarding me the D H Richards memorial bursary to attend this conference, enabling me to present my PhD work through two oral and one poster presentations. In addition, it gave me the opportunity to attend presentations given by many of the leading researchers in the field.

My PhD has focused on the synthesis of thiol-yne click poly (ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogels for tissues engineering applications. To reflect my research areas, I was particularly interested in the Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering (PMSE) division at this conference, especially the gels and other amorphous soft solids session. There were many interesting talks in this division covering a wide range of topics, from many different areas of polymer chemistry and material science, from 3D printing marmite (Marc in het Panhuis) to the mechanochemistry of elastomers (Hideyuki Otsuka). The range of different presentations at this meeting has inspired innovative approaches for my own PhD project to overcome the remaining challenges I have in my thesis.

The conference was attended by over 12,000 people with a vast array of talks, exhibits, career fairs and poster sessions. Having this experience during my PhD gave me an opportunity to further understand different academic research careers as well as giving me the chance to discuss my PhD projects with an international audience which was an unique opportunity and one which will influence my future work and career.

Overall, I gained a range of new experiences by attending the ACS national meeting and I would like to thank the Macro Group again for their contribution towards the trip.