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Sharlene WilliamsMacromolecular Interfaces with Life Sciences IGERT
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburg, VA
Sharlene's Research at a Glance
Free radical processes are important in biological mechanisms including disease pathways, aging, and biomedical applications. I will elucidate oxygen-centered free radical processes in various biological systems utilizing a fundamental understanding obtained by research of the oxidative processes of synthetic polymers and biopolymers.
The first part of the research plan incorporates biocompatible polymer research that is currently being conducted in Dr. Long's research group. My synthetic research focuses on novel polymers derived from renewable resources including sugars and cellulosics, as well as novel acetoacetonate derivatization in parallel with acrylate functionality. Specific attention devoted to the preparation of sugar based elastomers and foams will offer enhanced compatibility and biodegradation. These novel sugar-based polymers will be suitable matrices for the preparation of antioxidant delivery systems and other biomedical applications. For example, Figure 1 displays a poly(propylene glycol) based acetoacetonate (AcAc) system for the preparation of novel elastomers (rubbers) using catalyzed Michael chemistry. This novel family of biodegradable polymers will have unique physical properties due to the formation of a multiphase structure. After synthesizing the polymers, I would like to study further the biocompatibility of the polymers for bio-adhesives and other biomedical applications.
The influence of the free radical intermediates on polymer performance is the second component of my research plan. It is imperative to understand the effect of oxidation on mechanical properties of biopolymers and synthetic polymers. Free radical oxidation is critical to biopolymer and polymer degradation. Various instruments, including dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), tensile testing, thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA), and fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), will measure the effect of oxidation on mechanical properties. I will evaluate the changes in morphological, thermal, and mechanical properties. In addition, I will examine the rates of oxidative processes.
The third part of my research interests involves a unique highly parallel screening of synthetic polymers and biopolymers with antioxidants to determine optimal antioxidants and oxidation rates and processes. This combinatorial technique utilizes a microarray-based approach. In minimal time, I will obtain a great amount of information by using this technique. By adding a small amount of polymer and antioxidant to a 96 well plate, I will assess the rate of oxidation. A design of experiment, performed to determine the effect of concentration and chemical structure of antioxidants on the rate of oxidation, will increase my productivity.
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