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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/L020599/1
Title: Nanostructured Polymeric Materials for Healthcare
Principal Investigator: Hamley, Professor IW
Other Investigators:
Hayes, Professor W Wang, Dr Z Connon, Professor CJ
Colquhoun, Professor HM
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: University of Reading
Scheme: Platform Grants
Starts: 01 June 2014 Ends: 30 September 2019 Value (£): 1,185,824
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biomaterials Materials Characterisation
Materials Synthesis & Growth Tissue engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
30 Jan 2014 Platform Grant Interviews - 30 January 2014 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Key scientific/technological challenges facing mankind in the opening decades of the 21st Century include those associated with improved healthcare. A global challenge results from the worldwide improvement in life expectancy, which is leading to an urgent need for new biomedical materials, to facilitate regenerative medicine. This involves using bio-derived or biologically inspired materials to regenerate tissue or even ultimately organs. In particular, our research involves the creation of new materials for tissue engineering of the cornea and skin, based around functionalized peptide/polymer water-based gels. We are developing materials that can repair collagen or stimulate its production, leading to new ways to treat eye and flesh wounds. We will also extend and develop our ongoing research programme on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, which affects millions of people around the world. We are developing novel diagnostic and potentially therapeutic systems based on preventing the aggregation of proteins that is believed to be the cause of this and related diseases such as CJD and type II diabetes.

Population growth and economic development across the planet is leading to rapidly increasing demands for clean drinking water, with even the prospect of "water wars" between nations which are constrained to share water resources. Here, membrane science is key to meeting the challenge, with our own work focusing on the the development of membranes for the recycling of drinking water by low-pressure nanofiltration and ultrafiltration techniques.

The performance characteristics of polymeric materials are often crucially dependent on their detailed structure at the nanoscale. A fundamental aim of our research is to achieve specified polymer nanostructures through the self-assembly of polymer chains, with the assembly process itself being governed by the chain-sequences of the polymers involved. Synthetic methods providing unprecedented control over monomer sequences will be developed in the new research made possible by the Platform grant. This design-approach, underpinned by insights resulting from high-level theoretical studies and state-of-the-art structural analyses, will be followed in nearly all our work - from the study of membrane ionomers and amyloid-forming copolymers to new, exploratory work on self-repairing polymers and on polymer brushes as potentially responsive and biocompatible surfaces.

The Reading Polymer Group (I.W. Hamley, H.M. Colquhoun, C.J. Connon, W. Hayes and Z. Wang) is involved in numerous international collaborations. The Group's areas of expertise, in polymer design and synthesis (Colquhoun, Hayes and Hamley), characterisation (Hamley), biomaterials development (Connon and Hamley) and modelling (Wang) are highly complementary. The Group is funded from a wide range of sources and currently holds grants and external studentship-funding to a total value of £8M, including ca. £4M of RCUK funding (primarily EPSRC and BBSRC).

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Organisation Website: http://www.rdg.ac.uk