Elizabeth Gillies


Contact Information

Title: Professor
Office: Rm 3202 MSA,
Labs: 3246, 3248, 3250 MSA
Phone (Office): ext 80223
E-mail: egillie@uwo.ca

Organic Teaching Division

Chemical Biology and Biomaterials

Organic, polymer, and biomaterials Chemistry

Group Website


B.Sc., Queen’s University; Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley; Marie Curie Post-Doctoral Fellow University of Bordeaux , France


  • Macromolecular Science and Engineering Award (Chemical Institute of Canada), 2023
  • Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Polymeric Biomaterials, 2020
  • Royal Society of Canada College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, 2018
  • Mohan Mathur Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2018
  • NSERC E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship, 2017
  • Fallona Interdisciplinary Science Award, 2016
  • Faculty Scholar, Western University, 2016-2018
  • Petro Canada Young Innovator Award, Western University, 2012
  • Early Researcher Award, Government of Ontario, 2008-2013
  • Tier 2 Canada Research Chair, Government of Canada, 2006-2016
  • John Charles Polanyi Prize, Government of Ontario, 2006


The Gillies Research Group is developing new polymers with advanced properties and functions. Novel chemical approaches are under development to enable control of the degradation of polymers and to allow this breakdown to occur in response to specific stimuli such as light, heat, and biological stimuli. For example, we are synthesizing and studying a class of polymers term “self-immolative” polymers, that undergo complete end-to-end depolymerization back to small molecules upon the cleavage of a backbone chemical bond or terminal end-cap in response to a stimulus. We are also preparing and studying biodegradable polyesters and poly(ester amide)s.

In collaboration with industry and other academic groups, we are currently applying our polymers as replacements for conventional non-degradable polymers and plastics, to address the challenges associated with plastic pollution.

We are also exploring applications of polymers in biomedical areas. For example, we are developing drug delivery systems capable of releasing drugs in response to biological stimuli associated with diseases such as cancer. Sustained release formulations are also under development for intra-articular delivery to treat osteoarthritis. We are also examining structure-property relationships in antibacterial polymers and coatings, and exploring their potential to treat orthopaedic infection.

Students in our group have the opportunity to gain experience in the synthesis of small molecules and polymers and in their characterization using a wide range of techniques such as NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, HPLC, GPC/SEC, light scattering, and imaging methods such as SEM and TEM. To test the utility of our new systems, students will also be encouraged to participate in biological experiments.

For more information about the group please visit our research group homepage.


  • CBE 9100 – Advanced Chemical Communications
  • CHEM 1302 – Discovering Chemical Energetics
  • CBE 2206 – Industrial Organic Chemistry
  • CHEM 9653 – Polymers: Synthesis to Function
  • CHEM 4493 – Chemistry of Biological Macromolecules


  • Li, C.; Deng, Z.; Gillies, E. R. ”Designing polymers with stimuli-responsive degradation for biomedical applications.” Curr. Opin. Biomed. Eng. 2023, 25, 100437. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cobme.2022.100437

  • Sirianni, Q. E. A.; Wang, T. D.; Borecki, A.; Ronald, J. A.; Gillies, E. R. “Self-immolative polyplexes for DNA delivery.” Biomater. Sci. 2022, 10, 2557-2567. https://doi.org/10.1039/D1BM01684A 

  • Gill, K.; Mei, X.; Gillies, E. R.* “Self-immolative dendron hydrogels” Chem. Commun. 2021, 57, 11072-11075. https://doi.org/10.1039/D1CC05108C 

  • Yardley, R. E.; Rabiee Kenaree, A.; Gillies, E. R.* “Triggering depolymerization: Progress and opportunities for self-immolative polymers.” Macromolecules, 2019, 52, 6342-6360. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.macromol.9b00965 

  • Cuthbert, T. J.; Hisey, B.; Harrison, T. D.; Trant, J. F.; Gillies, E. R.*; Ragogna, P. J.* “Surprising Antibacterial Activity and Selectivity of Hydrophilic Polyphosphoniums Featuring Sugar and Hydroxyl Substituents.” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2018, 130, 12889-12892. DOI: 10.1002/anie.201806412