Elizabeth Gillies

Centre for Advanced Materials and Biomaterials Research, Department of Chemistry, Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, The University of Western Ontario

"Development of New Functional Degradable Polymers for Biomedical Applications"

Abstract:

Degradable polymers are of significant interest for biomedical applications, including drug delivery and regenerative medicine, where they can be used to fabricate delivery systems such as particles and hydrogels, and can also be used to fabricate tissue engineering scaffolds. Thus far, significant progress has been made in these fields using natural polymers such as collagen and chitosan as well as synthetic polyesters such as polylactide and polycaprolactone. However, the ability to tune the properties of these polymers as well as their degradation rates is relatively limited. This presentation will describe our development and application of two polymeric platforms. Poly(ester amide)s (PEAs) can be prepared from amino acid, diol, and dicarboxylic acid monomers, and their properties can be readily tuned according to the choice of specific monomers. Our use of PEAs for the preparation of drug delivery systems and tissue engineering scaffolds will be presented. Self-immolative polymers (SIPs) are a recently developed class of degradable polymers that depolymerize to small molecules in response to the cleavage of a single stimuli-responsive end-cap from the polymer terminus. This allows an unprecedented degree of control over the polymer degradation process as end-caps can be introduced that are responsive to a wide range of stimuli including light, heat, weak acids, hydrogen peroxide, or reducing agents, many of which are accessible in vivo and are associated with disease states such as cancer and inflammation. Our group’s work towards applying SIPs for drug delivery in the form of nanoparticles and coatings will be presented.

Biography:

Elizabeth Gillies is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at the University of Western Ontario. She obtained her B.Sc. degree in Chemistry from Queen's University, Kingston, Canada in 2000. She then moved to the University of California, Berkeley where she completed her Ph.D. degree in 2004 working under the guidance of Jean Fréchet. After postdoctoral work at the University of Bordeaux with Ivan Huc, she joined Western in 2006. Her research interests are in the development of biodegradable polymers, stimuli-responsive polymers, phosphorus-containing polymers, and polymer assemblies. Her team is applying these polymers via multidisciplinary collaborations to a range of applications including drug delivery, tissue engineering, and agriculture. Dr. Gillies is currently the Director of the Centre for Advanced Materials and Biomaterials Research at Western. She has received a number of awards including a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Biomaterials Synthesis, E. W. R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship, Early Researcher Award (Ontario), and Fallona Interdisciplinary Science Award (Western).