|Dr Alessandra Bonanni||Biosensor technologies
Biosensors are analytical tools which combine a biorecognition agent which provides selectivity and a transducer that confers sensitivity and can convert the biorecognition event into a measurable electronic signal. The advantage of using biosensor over traditional techniques is represented by their low costs, small dimensions, portability, and fast response. The different areas for potential biosensor applications are mainly medical diagnosis, environmental monitoring and food analysis.
DNA analysis is of extreme importance to solve problems of different nature such as investigation on genetic diseases, detection of food and water contamination by microorganism, studies on breeding origins or tissue matching, and solution of forensic issues. The techniques for genome identification are nowadays mainly based on DNA sequencing by using fluorescent labels and optical detectors. They require a few days for the analysis to be completed and the costs are prohibitive to the general public. Demand has never been greater for innovative technologies which can provide fast, inexpensive and reliable genome information.
The focus of my research is on the development of analytical tools (biosensors) for the rapid, reliable and low cost identification of DNA sequences. In order to achieve that, different electrochemical techniques are used for the detection of the analytical signal. The developed biosensors are based on various platforms (such as gold, carbon and silicon) and different nanomaterials (i.e. gold nanoparticles, graphene nanoplatelets and several quantum dots) are employed for the amplification of the obtained signal and the improvement of detection limit.
The final step of this work is the application of the developed genosensor to real sample analysis. Once this second part is successfully accomplished, the analytical tool could be eventually integrated into a DNA amplification process, resulting in a portable device for point-of-care diagnostic tests and for very sensitive detection of SNPs correlated to different diseases.
This field includes research in the two following areas:
- Application of DNA genosensors to identify of DNA sequences correlated to bacteria involved in food contamination (i.e. Salmonella spp, Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli)
- Development of electrochemical biosensors for the detection of antioxidant capacity of food and beverages
|Prof Atsushi Goto||Polymer Chemistry and Polymer Materials
1) Controlled syntheses of polymers
2) Development of new living radical polymerization via organic catalysis
3) Creation of new advance polymer materials using structurally controlled polymers
|Assoc Prof Cai Wenjian||Prof Cai's areas of expertise are system modelling, control and optimization, multivariable system identification and control, sensor and instrumentation, mechanical system simulation and design, and intelligent systems. His current research works focus on industry applications in building HVAC processes, renewable energy processes and environmental processes.
|Prof Chan Bee Eng, Mary||Her main research interests are in polymers in nanoscience and biotechnology. She has published extensively, with more than 240 papers in top-tier journals. She is a leader in the field of antibacterial and antibiofilm polymers. Her group has invented a new class of potent cationic antimicrobial polymers which are non-toxic and biocompatible. Her antibacterial polymers are more environmentally friendly than current disinfectives and are being applied as device coatings and solutions to fight the global Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) public health crisis. These new antimicrobial polymers have been reported in Angewandte Chemie (2020), Chemical Science (2020), Nature Communications (2019), Nano Letters (2018), ACS Nano (2015), Advanced Materials (2012) and Nature Materials (2011). Her polymers are explored for human and animal infections.
The key inventions of Mary include glycosylated block co-beta-peptides that can eradicate biofilm and persister bacteria that are not easily treatable by classical antibiotics and which are the cause of recurrent infections. She also invented a series of polyimidazoliums that have antibiotic-like properties and ultra-high selectivity window, so that these can be exploited in complex consumer care products. She pioneered microporous antibacterial hydrogels that kill bacteria through acting as an anion sponge. These hydrogel coatings have been applied to contact lens and wound dressing
Her patents have been used by/licensed to companies. Professor Mary Chan contributes actively to the industry through industry cooperation projects, consultancy and licensing of her technologies.
|Prof Chen Xiaodong||Currently, Prof. Chen's research focuses on two directions:
(1) Integrated nano-bio interface: to develop programmable nanostructure-biomaterial hybrid systems for monitoring, manipulating, and mimicking biological processes.
(2) Programmable materials for energy conversion: to explore programmable modules for electrochemical energy conversion and storage.
|Assoc Prof Chew Jia Wei||Fluidized bed technology represents an important industrial application, spanning energy production, chemical synthesis, and pharmaceutical processes, among others. However, due in part to the limitations of measurement techniques, processes employing particulate flows often operate below design capacity, and operations are generally based on experience rather than theory. Thus, my research focuses on the important need for the development of measurement and/or analytical solutions for understanding and diagnostic purposes. Another area of research is scaling analysis of fluidized bed systems to develop design heuristics. In fluidized bed systems an added complexity involves instabilities that have to be included in a comprehensive model. To date, the prediction of the characteristic instability length (e.g., the bubble or cluster size) remains elusive, despite its importance in enhancing our comprehension of various phenomena (e.g., species segregation and clustering) in polydisperse fluidized beds. To this end, systematic scaling analysis is expected to be useful in the design and optimization of fluidized bed systems.
Membrane technology also spans wide-ranging applications, such as water purification, gas separation, and dialysis. However, optimal performance remains elusive due inevitably to concentration polarization and fouling. Specifically for membrane distillation, although rigorous equations have been developed, the inability to account for the wide spectrum of pore sizes of the membrane and/or biofouling layer inhibits the use of such models for predicting the performance. In particular, membrane distillation enables the production of potable water using waste heat from industrial processes, thus makes for a promising Green Technology. Hence, one area of my research will be towards developing new techniques for characterizing pore sizes (such as evapoporometry), which is expected to lead to a better understanding and optimization of membrane processes. Another thrust involves study of an integrated hybrid process comprising a fluidized bed and a membrane for water purification. More specifically, the addition of particles to a tubular membrane module has been shown to significantly enhance the water permeation flux due to promoting turbulence. For the system to become a feasible and reliable method for separations, further enhancement of performance is warranted.
|Prof Chi Yonggui Robin||OrganoCatalysis, Chemical Synthesis, Functional Molecules
|Prof Chiba Shunsuke||Organic Synthetic Chemistry
1) Development of New synthetic Reactions
2) Synthesis of Natural and Unnatural Products
|Assoc Prof Chong Tzyy Haur||Membrane Process Intensification: Engineering for Efficiency and Sustainability in Water-Energy-Environment Nexus
• Desalination and reclamation, water and wastewater treatment, industrial applications
• Membrane fouling mechanisms, control strategies and fouling sensors
• Process intensification, enhanced module and system design
• Hybrid membrane chemical and bio-reactors
|Assoc Prof Curtis Alexander Davey||DNA in eukaryotic cells is packaged by histone proteins into chromatin, a dynamic hierarchical organization underlying genomic function. The basic chromatin building block is the nucleosome core particle, in which ~147 base pairs of DNA are wrapped in 1 & 2/3 superhelical turns around a histone protein octamer. Our high resolution crystallographic analysis of the nucleosome core particle yielded a wealth of insight into histone-DNA association. In fact, the conformation of DNA in the nucleosome core is remarkably different than its naked form or that associated with other nuclear proteins and is dependent on both DNA sequence and positioning on the histone octamer. We found that even divalent metal hydrates can recognize this unique feature of the nucleosome, binding in a DNA sequence- and orientation-selective manner.
Our present goal is to find new drug targets and develop novel therapeutics by studying DNA structure and chemistry within a physiological framework. Approximately 83% of genomic DNA is associated with histone octamers, rendering the nucleosome core an important therapeutic target. However, relatively little is known about the influence of histone packaging on DNA-drug interaction. Since nucleosomal DNA displays sequence- and context-dependent structural features that can be recognized by even simple small molecules, the main premise of our present investigations is to explore the possibilities for nucleosome-selective recognition by medicinal agents and nuclear protein factors. The discovery of nucleosome-specific compounds would hold promise for the acquisition of improved therapeutic agents by allowing for a level of site discrimination beyond the primary structure of DNA.