Wiess School of Natural Sciences
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Biochemistry & Cell Biology
Earth Science
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Physics & Astronomy

Carbon nanomaterials and their small molecule analogues for biomedical applications

Thesis Defense

Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

By: Lizanne Nilewski
Doctoral Candidate
When: Monday, August 14, 2017
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Where: Dell Butcher Hall
Abstract: This work describes the synthesis, characterization, and applications of poly(ethylene glycol) hydrophilic carbon clusters (PEG-HCCs) and PEGylated graphene quantum dots (PEG-GQDs), which are highly efficient, catalytic antioxidant carbon nanomaterials. PEG-HCCs were shown to be efficient drug delivery vehicles for targeting and imaging glioblastoma. PEG-HCCs were also studied as potent antioxidant immunomodulators for the treatment of T cell-mediated autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis. Another class of antioxidant carbon nanomaterials, GQDs, was also developed and investigated with respect to antioxidant activity and redox chemistry. Additionally, small molecule analogues of the PEG-HCCs and GQDs, in the form of perylene and naphthalene diimides (PDIs and NDIs), were synthesized to mimic the redox activity and mechanism of action of antioxidant carbon nanomaterials, and PDIs with various structural modifications were synthesized to modulate their redox properties. Additionally, peptide-targeted UV-activated nanomachines were designed and studied for the targeted destruction of cancer cell membranes. The PEG-HCCs, PEG-GQDs, PDI/NDI small molecules, and nanomachines were studied in cell-free systems, in vitro, and in vivo with promising results that warrant continued investigation of their mechanism and applications.