Academic Talk: Multifunctional Drug Nanocarriers for Various Biomedical Applications


Presenter: Shaoqin Sarah Gong (Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Department of Chemistry, and Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Topic: Multifunctional Drug Nanocarriers for Various Biomedical Applications

Time: 9:30 AM, Aug. 1st (Tuesday)

Location: Conference Room B, BLDG 909-1F


Drug nanocarriers can improve many of the pharmacological properties of free drugs/agents including higher solubility in aqueous solutions, better in vivo chemical stability, longer plasma half-time, controlled drug release, and specific tissue/cell targeting abilities. Polymer micelles, polymersomes, and liposomes are among the most widely studied drug nanocarriers. However, these multi-molecular self-assembled nanoparticles (NPs) often exhibit poor in vivo stability due to the dynamic nature of the self-assembly process. Premature rupture of these drug nanocarriers during circulation can cause a burst release of payload into the bloodstream, which can lead to potential systemic toxicity and loss of NP tumor-targeting abilities, thereby limiting their in vivo applications. In contrast, unimolecular nano-particles-formed by individual multi-arm star block copolymers-demonstrate excellent in vivo stability due to their covalent nature and unique chemical structure. Moreover, due to their superior chemical versatility, these unique unimolecular nanoparticles can be conveniently functionalized with different targeting ligands (e.g., small molecules, peptides, antibodies, nanobodies, and aptamers) and imaging probes (e.g., dyes, radioisotopes, etc.). We have engineered a family of unimolecular nanoparticles used to deliver various payloads (hydrophobic compounds, RNAs, peptides, and proteins) for the treatment of various diseases including cancers, vascular diseases, and eye diseases. Several other multifunctional nanoplatforms engineered for various biomedical applications will also be presented.



Dr. Shaoqin Sarah Gong is a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received her BA and MS degrees from Tsinghua University and her PhD degree from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor-all in Materials Science and Engineering. Prof. Gong is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. She has co-authored over 140 peer-reviewed journal articles and more than 120 conference papers. Her H-index is 49. She is an editorial board member for several journals including Biomaterials, Theranostics, Biofabrication, and Nano-theranostics. She also served as an Associate Editor for Biomaterials and is the winner of a number of awards including the NSF CAREER Award and NIH Career Development Award.

Prof. Gong’s current research focuses on the development of multifunctional nanomaterials, including nanomedicines and polymer nanocomposites, for various applications. In the area of nanomedicines, her research group has developed a series of multifunctional drug/agent nanocarriers including unimolecular micelles, polymer nanocages, polymer vesicles, and polymer-functionalized inorganic nanoparticles for targeted drug/agent delivery to treat and monitor various major health threats including cancers, vascular disorders, and eye diseases. In the area of polymer nanocomposites, her research group has developed a series of high-performance flexible energy harvesting (e.g., nanogenerators) and storage (e.g., supercapacitors) devices, as well as flexible electronics.

Prof. Gong’s lab is interested in researchers with the following backgrounds: (1) Polymer chemistry, (2) Nanomaterials, (3) Biomaterials, and (4) Flexible devices. Potential candidates for UW or visiting graduate students, postdocs, and professors can reach Prof. Gong via email (


Contact: Prof. Lichen Yin

Editor: Juan Yang