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|Texas A&M Chemistry professor Karen Wooley|
Texas A&M is one of the world's leading research facilities. It invests more than $582 million annually toward research, which ranks the University third in the nation. A&M is also one of five institutions with research funded towards nanotechnology-based therapies and diagnostics tools for the treatment of heart and lung disease.
By Joyce Go
Chemistry professor Karen Wooley is the co-principal investigator for nanoparticle-focused research at A&M.
"My laboratory has been developing polymer nanoparticles for the past 15 years, the past year of which has been here at A&M. A part of our work focuses on the fundamental aspects of developing synthetic methodologies by which nanoparticles can be prepared together with rigorous study of their structures and properties," Wooley said. "Another part emphasizes practical applications for nanotechnology, one of which is in medicine."
Wooley holds the position as W.T. Doherty-Welch Chair in Chemistry at A&M, and is regarded as one of the top chemists in material and polymer chemistry worldwide.
"My interest in nanotechnology stems from the applied interest in producing materials that can benefit society and also the scientific challenges involved in the synthesis of the materials with exquisite control over their compositions, structures and properties," Wooley said.
The medical aspect of nanotechnology research, known as nanomedicine, works to increase non-invasive diagnostic methods and treatment. Researchers at A&M are working towards treatment for lung diseases and injuries.
"Our group (*) has been involved in cutting-edge macromolecular science following Professor Wooley's discovery of shell-crosslinked knedels in the '90s," said Yun Lin, a chemistry graduate student working under Wooley. "The potential applications of this concept are immense: SCKs of fascinating morphologies have been shown to serve as the next-generation nanomedicine by delivering drugs to specific sites in the body."
Wooley's team consists of graduate students and post-doctoral associates who use knowledge of polymer chemistry to improve the efficiency of medical technology.
"Professor Wooley and her group are outspoken - constantly involved in dissemination activities throughout the world and the nation to speak to the peers and the general public about our scientific findings and the safety of the technology," said Nam Lee, a chemistry graduate student also working in Wooley's laboratory.
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