By Lucia Massi, Imperial
My Mobility Fellowship was a five-week placement at the Centre for Advanced Macro-molecular Design at the University of NSW (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia.
The main aim of the placement was the acquisition of polymer chemistry skills for the development of an enzyme responsive polymer-based platform for enabling earlier HIV detection, thereby finding a way around the need to store the enzymatic components long-term in adverse conditions.
The proposed innovative approach aimed to combine nanomaterials and lateral flow design from the Stevens group (ICL) with smartphone detection capabilities from the McKendry group (UCL). By using RAFT polymerisation techniques, a library of block copolymers has been successfully synthesised and their ability to self assemble into nanostructures has been investigated. Cross-linking strategies have been studied with the aim of conferring enzyme responsive properties. Future studies will address the re-sponse of the system to HIV-1 protease and detection capabilities.
From a scientific point of view, this has been an amazing experience that allowed me not only to achieve the proposed project aims but also to broaden my skills, be in contact with a different scientific environment and start useful collaborations for my future career.
From a personal point of view, I had the opportunity to explore the amazingly beautiful and sunny Australia and meet extremely interesting people.