Associate Professor, Departments of Chemistry and Chemical and Biochemical Engineering
Research Chair in Biomaterials Synthesis,
Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley) 2004
B.Sc. (Queen’s University) 2000
My Research Group
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, and 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, molecules designed to interact with cell membranes can serve as new antibiotics or vehicles for the delivery of molecules into cells. 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, therefore providing therapeutics or materials for tissue engineering. Research is also underway to develop new contrast agents for medical imaging. These agents comprise nanoparticles and polymer assemblies which are targeted to specific cell types in order to image diseases and biological processes.
Some key features focused on in the design of systems are the control of molecular and supramolecular architecture (eg. the shape and conformation) and the development of new modes of polymer degradation under biological conditions.
Students in the 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, IR, and mass spectroscopies, HPLC, GPC/SEC, light scattering, and imaging methods such as AFM and TEM. To test the utility of new systems, students are also encouraged to participate in some biological experiments.