Biopolymers & Biomaterials

Biopolymers and biomaterials encompass materials from proteins, DNA, and carbohydrates to synthetic or natural materials that have been engineered to interact with biological systems for medical purposes. 15 research groups from the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Engineering and the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, as well as the Robarts Research Institute engage in these areas of material research to develop, for example, advanced materials for bone regeneration, nanocontainers to control the localization within the body of therapeutics and artificial analogues for ocular tissues. Meet our researchers and become familiar with the broad range of study of biopolymers and biomaterials at Western.


Jeff Dixon

Dental Sciences Building, Rm 0075
Animal Models, arthritis, bioengineering, biomaterials & scaffolds, dentistry, molecular & cell biology, osteoporosis, regenerative medicine, spine related pathologies.

Dr. Dixon studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the resorption and formation of mineralized tissues. Collaboratively, he is investigating mechanotransduction in skeletal cells and developing advanced materials for bone regeneration and dental applications.

Elizabeth Gillies

Material Science Addition, Rm. 3202
519 661-2111 ext 80223
Synthesis of biomaterials; nanomaterials; biodegradable polymers; dendrimers; drug delivery; imaging contrast agents; self-assembly.

Dr. Gillies’ research involves the design, synthesis and application of functional molecules. The molecules of interest can range from well-defined oligomers and dendrimers to higher molecular weight polymers. In particular, the group is interested in the interactions of these molecules and their supramolecular assemblies with biological systems to serve as new biomaterials and therapeutics. For example, polymer assemblies may be used as nanocontainers to control the localization within the body of therapeutics ranging from small molecules to proteins and DNA. They may also serve as new scaffolds to display biological ligands, thereby providing new therapeutics or materials for tissue engineering. We are also investigating polymers that degrade by novel mechanisms in response to biological stimuli in order to achieve an unprecendented level of control over the polymer degradation process. Research is also underway to develop new contrast agents for medical imaging.

Lauren Flynn

Dental Sciences Building, Rm 00061A
519-661-2111 ext 87226
Bioengineering & regenerative medicine, biomaterials & scaffolds, molecular & cell biology, skin disorders & wound healing.

Dr. Flynn’s research interests focus on the development of cell-based regenerative approaches with adipose-derived stem/stromal cells (ASCs) and naturally-derived bioscaffolds for applications in musculoskeletal tissue regeneration (adipose tissue, intervertebral disc, cartilage, ligament), therapeutic angiogenesis, and wound healing. Her lab has specific expertise in the design of biomaterials derived from the extracellular matrix (ECM) of decellularized tissues as tissue-specific, cell-instructive scaffolds. In particular, Dr. Flynn holds patents related to novel biomaterials fabricated from decellularized adipose tissue (DAT) and is working towards the commercialization of her DAT technologies for use in soft tissue reconstruction and augmentation, as well as for the treatment of chronic wounds.

Douglas Hamilton

Dental Sciences Building, Rm. 0065
519 661-2111 ext 81594
Titanium alloys, electrospun scaffolds, natural polymers, connective tissues, material surface functionalization.

Dr. Hamilton's philosophy on biomaterials development is to use biological data from in vitro and in vivo models to re-design materials to further promote desired cell behaviour, and advantageous gene and protein expression. Through characterization of the material chemistry and topography, as well as the cellular response, materials can be furthered adapted where applicable, through the incorporation of biologically active molecules on the surfaces. They are developing a rigorous screening system for gene and protein changes in newly implanted, as well as end stage failure biomaterials.

Robert Hudson

Chemistry Building, Rm. 226
519 661-2111 ext 86349
Peptides, oligonucleotides, MRI, fluorescence, imaging

Dr. Hudson is an expert in oligonucleotide, peptide and cyclen chemistries and produces novel biomaterials for imaging purposes.

Mikko Karttunen

Middlesex College, Rm 268 and Chemistry Building, Rm 072
Computational chemistry & biological physics, multiscale simulation methods, QM/MM and coarse-graining, lattice Boltzmann methods, polymers, intrinsically disordered proteins, lipid membranes and peptides.

Dr. Karttunen’s research focuses on the properties of biological & soft matter using theory and the methods of computational chemistry and physics. Typical systems are at the interface between materials science, biology & biomedical sciences. He is interested in problems such as membrane-peptide interactions, intrinsically disordered proteins, organic optoelectronic materials and polymer composites. He is also working on magnetic materials, pattern formation and non-equilibrium dynamics of soft matter under flow.

Lars Konermann

Biology & Gelogical Sciences Building, Rm. 2016
519 661-2111 ext 86313
Protein structure and dynamics, protein folding, protein aggregation, protein folding diseases, biological mass spectrometry.

Research in the Konermann laboratory revolves around conformational studies on proteins. In particular, this work focuses on the mechanisms of biomolecular self-assembly (folding and misfolding of protein chains, as well as the formation of protein-protein contacts). Another aspect of Konermann's research program is the relationship between protein structure, function, and conformational dynamics. Much of this work is based on the application of modern mass spectrometry techniques, in conjunction with isotope exchange and covalent labeling approaches.

Argyrios (Gerry) Margaritis

Thompson Engineering Building, Rm. 377
519 661-2146
Corrbiopolymer nanoparticles for drug delivery.

Dr. Margaritis colaborates with Dr.Jim Koropatnick at the London Regional Cancer Program at Victoria Hospital, using biopolymer nanoparticles loaded with the cancer drug Doxorubicin to kill cancer cells. He also has strong coolaborations with Dr.A.Xenocostas (Hematology Department, Victoria Hospital) for the controlled release of Erythropeitin using biopolymer nanoparticles.

Kibret Mequanint

Thompson Engineering Building, Rm. 439
519 661-2111 ext 88573
Vascular tissue engineering; biomaterials; scaffold fabrications; cell-material interaction; polyurethanes; bioreactor; extracellular matrix proteins, mass transfer.

Tim Newson

Alexander Charles Spencer Engineering Building, Rm. 3084
519 850-2973
Ocular biomechanics; ocular drug delivery; imaging contrast agents; constitutive modelling of biomaterials; artificial cornea, ocular tissue mimics.

Dr. Newson’s research involves the use of structural engineering analysis, contaminant transport theories and computational flow dynamics to improve the understanding of the biomechanical, viscoelasticity and fluid flow behaviour of the eye. This has included studies of the cornea, sclera, posterior chamber, optic nerve and extraocular muscles. Further work has been instigated recently investigating drug transport and CT imaging of the eye, ocular needle mechanics for intravitreal treatments, the use of elastic wave theories to determine in vivo corneal elastic properties and the development of artificial analogues for ocular tissues and vitreous humour using PVA-cryogels.

Peter Rogan

Dental Science Building, Rm. 5012
519 661-2111 ext 84355
Nanoscale analysis of DNA structure, correlated confocal and atomic force microscopy.

Structural analysis of short DNA probes bound to metaphase chromosomes by nanoscale imaging reveals the topological context of these DNA sequences in the genome. Recent studies have investigated the coupling of kinetochore structural dynamics and centromeric DNA segregation. The methods developed by Dr. Rogan are being used to investigate the topological context of low- and single copy probe sequences on chromosomes, with the goal of understanding and mitigating differences in their accessibility to targets on different homologs.

John Ronald

Robarts Research Institute, Rm 2241A
519-931-5777 ext 24391

Dr. Ronald’s lab focuses on pioneering novel molecular and cellular imaging technologies, with a particular interest on improved early cancer detection, as well as improved monitoring of state-of-the-art gene-based and cell-based therapies for cancer and other diseases. To accomplish this, he is investigating the development of novel platforms that strategically integrates disease-specific activatable expression systems with both biofluid-based and multimodality imaging readouts. This work is at the interface of molecular and cell biology, imaging sciences, and nanomedicine and requires a multidisciplinary approach to devise innovative solutions to some of today’s most difficult biomedical problems.

Cheryle Séguin

Dental Sciences Building, Rm 0035A
519-661-2111 ext 82977
Animal models, arthritis, bioengineering & regenerative medicine, biomaterials & scaffolds, biomechanics, molecular & cell biology, spine related pathologies.

Dr. Séguin's lab studies are focused on using human embryonic stem cells to understand the mechanisms regulating early development and cell lineage specification. Using genetic tools to induce the expression of developmentally relevant transcription factors, studies are aimed towards the guided differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (HESC) towards lineage committed, tissue-specific progenitor cells.

Jin Zhang

Thompson Engineering Building, Rm. 465
519 661-2111 ext 88322
Nanocomposites; surface and interface of hybrid materials; protein conjugation.

Dr. Zhang’s research activities focus on: (1) development of new chemical and physical processes for advanced nanocomposites with enhanced optical, magnetic, mechanical properties; (2) design and synthesis of the interface between nanostructures and biopolymer/biomolecules; (3) investigation of the correlation between nanostructures and biological systems.