About the Seminar:
The Palermo laboratory at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute focuses on advanced functional polymer synthesis, with an emphasis on molecular-level biomimicry. We seek to develop next-generation biomaterials with unprecedented control of structure, property, and activity. In this talk, I will highlight three main thrust areas. (1) Firstly, we examine self-immolative polymers, which are reversibly end-capped low ceiling temperature polymers that respond to specific stimuli by spontaneous chain unzipping. We explore methods to functionalize the side chains of self-immolative polymers to endow some desired characteristic, such as water solubility, antibacterial activity, or tuned mechanical properties. Additionally, we show that covalent cross-linking of these self-immolative polymers can yield gels that are specifically programmed to depolymerize into soluble polymer upon exposure to designed stimuli. (2) Next, we will explore sequence control and dispersity effects in polythiophene that are designed to mimic the structure and function of host defense peptides. Selective binding to bacterial cell membranes at very low (nanoM) concentrations, combined with production of reactive oxygen species upon visible light illumination, enables excellent antibacterial potency while maintaining very low toxicity to human cells. (3) Lastly, we discuss a new class of polymeric pro-drug materials that are designed to extend the timescale of drug release via hydrolytic degradation to as long as 1-10 years. One example study will showcase polycarbonates composed of estrogen and PEG repeating units, processed into thin films and electrospun fibers. We demonstrate that these fibers effectively serve as guidance cues for neuron regeneration, providing neurotrophic and neuroprotective effects
About the Speaker:
Ed earned a Ph.D. in Macromolecular Science & Engineering from The University of Michigan, under the mentorship of Kenichi Kuroda, in 2011. Ed was also an NSF EAPSI fellow at Nagoya University under Prof. Masami Kamigaito during the summer of 2010. Following a postdoc with Anne McNeil in Chemistry at Michigan, Ed joined the faculty at RPI in 2014 as a tenure-track Assistant Professor. Ed has co-authored 30+ peer-reviewed journal articles, reviews and book chapters, with >1200 citations and a current h-index of 15. His work has been recognized with the NSF CAREER award, the ACS PMSE Young Investigator award, the 3M non-tenured faculty award, and the ACS PRF Doctoral New Investigator award.