Sam Ackerley

sam ackerley


Sam studied an integrated Masters course in Chemistry at University College London (UCL) and graduated in June 2019 with a first-class degree (MSci). In his undergraduate years Sam’s interests were in Organic Chemistry and Drug Design. His Masters project, conducted in the Davies Functional Nanomaterials Group focused on synthesising mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) functionalised with paramagnetic gadolinium chelates and encapsulating a model drug, ibuprofen. These nanostructures act as positive contrast agents, thus allowing them to be characterised via magnetic resonance imaging. The project investigated the relationship between changing MSN pore diameter on the drug uptake and release capabilities. Further, his Masters project demonstrated that MRI could be used to monitor drug release from nanocomposites in real time; still currently a novel application of MRI.

In October 2019 Sam joined the EPSRC funded Transformative Pharmaceutical Technologies Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) programme based at UCL School of Pharmacy. He has completed two, three-month training projects; the first project, supervised by Dr Maryam Parhizkar, involved using the electrohydrodynamic technique electrospraying to produce cisplatin encapsulated PLGA nanoparticles for cancer therapy. His most recent training project, based at GlaxoSmithKline, investigated the many process parameters involved with a simple miniaturised shake flask solubility experiment. Testing the solubility of highly lipophilic, BCS class II compounds, a Design of Experiments statistical analysis approach was adopted in order to fully assess the impacts of these parameters on drug solubility.

Returning to the Davies Functional Nanomaterials Group, Sam has recently started his PhD project in collaboration with AstraZeneca. His multidisciplinary PhD research project will encompass aspects of Inorganic and Materials Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and continuous flow processing techniques to produce and develop novel hybrid materials with unique properties for the purposes of targeting disease and monitoring drug release via non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging. Currently, there is an inability to target and monitor drug delivery in vivo, in real time using non-invasive techniques. Sam’s project will aim to solve this significant challenge through the development of highly specialised nanocomposites and the combination of imaging, targeting and delivery of a therapeutic.

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