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Hearing colour and seeing sound - switchable polymer molecular imaging agents for visualizing disease progression

School of Chemistry and Physics

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Dr Nathan Boase No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Molecular imaging aims to use non-invasive techniques to probe and visualize molecules in the body, which can be used to measure biochemical processes and disease progression. While these can be endogenous molecules, it is common to use exogenous and synthetic agents. One particularly interesting class of exogenous agents are polymer imaging agents, as they have high chemical functionality and can be designed to optimize their biological properties.

In this project you will aim to synthesise and characterise polymeric molecular imaging agents, which are able to switch their signal output based on interactions with biochemical processes. This can include optical energy for fluorescence imaging, acoustic signal for photoacoustic imaging and electronic properties for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). While the imaging techniques are diverse, the fundamental principle are the same, the chemical nature of the polymer will govern its physical properties. By creating a system that harnesses dynamic chemistry, the physical properties can be modified, ultimately switching the signal detected by the imaging instrument. The project will be focused on the synthesis of polymeric materials, characterising the chemical and physical structure of these materials, and understanding how these changes affect the detectable signal.

This is an interdisciplinary project, with opportunities in small molecule synthesis and characterization, polymer synthesis and characterization, material science, biomedical science and pre-clinical science. The interdisciplinary nature of the project allows for the focus to be tailored by the candidate, to craft a unique PhD experience for themselves.

The project is supported by collaborations with experts in material science, pre-clinical science and medical imaging.

The candidate will become a member of the brand new QUT Centre for Material Science. The centre provides a collaborative environment for curiosity-driven materials research and innovation focusing on outstanding research strengths in:
-soft matter materials
-hard condensed matter materials
-computation, prediction and modelling
-analytical technique development.

The Centre is fostering a supportive environment for PhD students and early career researchers, and aims to build a diverse and collegial group of researchers dedicated on pushing the barriers in material science.

Funding Notes

There is one competitive round of funding within the faculty each year, closing Sept 30, 2020. Through the Centre for Material Science, there are other funding opportunities throughout the year, so applicants are encouraged to contact Nathan as early as possible to discuss options.

For more information on application processes and eligibility:
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