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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Dynamic Interactions at Cell Membrane Interfaces - Workshop: '-“Emergent” phenomena from self-assembled nanostructures' and 'Electrostatic effects at the nanoscale'

7th December 2018, 12:00 to 13:00, Room W010, Department of Geography


Membrane Nanoparticles (MNPs) are small vesicles ubiquitously released into bodily fluids from cells. They have an enormous diagnostic and therapeutic potential, ranging from immune therapy, to vaccination, regenerative medicine, drug delivery, personalized medicine and the point-of-care market (projected £1 billion/year by 2022). The field is however still in its infancy and many aspects remain unexplored, partly due to the interdisciplinary nature of the field. While considerable research efforts are examining the biochemical properties of MNPs, to date little attention has been paid to their physicalproperties such as size, charge, density and mechanical properties. Recently, a handful of reports have shown that the physical properties of MNPs can be related to their function,in particular with respect to ageing, cancer and diabetes propagation. This presents a unique opportunity for fast and cheap point-of-care biodiagnostics, potentially scalable to robust lab-on-chip platforms.


The main goal of this exciting project is to explore the possibility to learn biologically meaningful information from the physical properties of MNPs. This will be done first by measuring the density, viscosity, size and charge of well characterised synthetic membrane nano-vesicles to build up a fundamental understanding of the relationship between the biochemical and biophysical properties of MNPs. These tests will subsequently be expanded to natural MNPs and compared with the model systems.

Given the interdisciplinary nature of the field and the project itself, significant efforts will be dedicated to the building of a network of relevant experts spanning medicine, chemistry, physics, biology, engineering and materials sciences. The experts will be primarily from the UK, but also include the IAS Fellows, all brought together by their interest in the scientific questions explored in the project.

It is foreseen that the practical details of the project will evolve, based on the input from experts, preliminary results and scientific discussions.

The main activities will take the form of scientific presentations and workshops, in coordination with a number of visiting IAS Fellows: Professor David Williams, University of Auckland, and Professor Boris Snopok, National Academy of Sciences, Ukraine during Michaelmas term, and Professor Jurriaan Huskens, University of Twente, and Dr Zakaria Almsherqi, National University of Singapore during Epiphany term.

Workshops are intended as a discussion around ideas and themes of interest to the participants. The propose topics are hence tentative and can be updated rapidly depending on the participants.


The next workshop in this series takes place on:


Workshop III - Friday 7 December, 12.00-13.00, Room W010, Geography Department

-“Emergent” phenomena from self-assembled nanostructures

-Electrostatic effects at the nanoscale

Contact kislon.voitchovsky@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.