Dr Georgina Such, The University of Melbourne

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01 September 2011

A smarter way to deliver drugs

When we’re treated for cancer, the drug spreads throughout the body indiscriminately. Along the way it causes side-effects such as nausea and hair loss.

To tackle this problem Georgina Such imagines a miniscule capsule designed like a set of Russian babushka dolls. The capsule sneaks through the blood stream untouched. When it finds its target—a cancer cell—it passes into the cell, sheds a layer, finds the part of the cellular machinery it needs to attack, sheds another layer and releases its cargo of drugs, destroying the cancer cell and only the cancer cell.

Creating such a capsule may take decades, but Georgina and her colleagues at The University of Melbourne have already developed several materials which offer potential to do the job. Georgina used her L’Oréal For Women in Science Fellowship to take this work even further.


2006 – PhD (Material Science), University of New South Wales

2002 – Bachelor of Science with Honours (Physical Chemistry), The University of Melbourne

Career highlights, awards, fellowships, grants

2009-2011 – Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project, “Synthesis and functionalisation of advanced polymer films and particles”

2009 – ARC Linkage Infrastructure (Equipment and Facilities) Grant, “Advanced nanobiomaterials imaging facility”, awarded to Caruso, F., Hourigan, K., Stevens, G.W., Sridhar, T., Kent, S.J., Fouras, A., Qiao, G.G., Dunstan, D.E., Thouas, G.A., Hooper, S.B., O’Connor, A,J., Johnston, A.P., Stadler, B.M., Evans, R.G., Gras, S.L., Denton, K.M., Pearson, J.T., Such, G.K., Blencowe, A., Kitchen, M.J. & Siu, K.K.

2007 – CSIRO Collaborative Research Scheme Grant, “Nanoscale patterning of surfaces using biologically relevant ‘click chemistry’”, awarded to Such, G. & Muir, B.

2005-present – Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, The University of Melbourne

2004 – Treloar Prize for best oral presentation by a researcher under 30 at the 27th Australian Polymer Symposium

2006 – CSIRO Look Out! Award for the research conducted during her PhD

2002 – CRC Scholarship Grant for PhD studies

Research highlights

  • A total of 35 publications of which 31 are peer-reviewed journal papers (seven as first author), two are book chapters (one as first author) and two are in conference proceedings, resulting in over 690 citations to date
  • Nine conference presentations, in Australia and overseas
  • Research visit to Professor Jean-Francois Lutz, Fraunhofer Institute, Berlin, Germany (June-July 2009) to develop a collaboration on nonlinear poly (ethylene glycol acrylate) materials (research that was recently published in Small)
  • Two patents, granted in 2005 and 2006

Top five publications

Such, G. K., Quinn, J. F., Quinn, A., Tjipto, E. & Caruso, F. (2006) Assembly of ultrathin polymer multilayers by click chemistry, Journal of the American Chemical Society 128:9318-9319. (Impact factor 8.6; 126 citations)

Quinn, J. F., Johnston, A. P. R., Such, G. K., Zelikin, A. N. & Caruso, F. (2007) Next generation, sequentially assembled ultrathin films: beyond electrostatics, Chemical Society Reviews 36:707-718. (Impact factor 20.1; 135 citations; cover image)

Such, G. K., Tjipto, E., Postma, A., Johnston, A. P. R. & Caruso, F. (2007) Ultrathin, responsive polymer click capsules, Nano Letters 7:1706-1710. (Impact factor 10.0; 77 citations)

Evans, R. A., Hanley, T. L., Skidmore, M. A., Davis, T. P., Such, G. K., Yee, L. H., Ball, G. E. & Lewis, D. A. (2005) The generic enhancement of photochromic dye switching speeds in a rigid polymer matrix, Nature Materials4:249-253. (Impact factor 29.5; 65 citations; highlighted in Science)

Ochs, C. J., Such, G. K., Yan, Y., van Koeverden, M. P. & Caruso, F. (2010) Biodegradable click capsules with engineered drug-loaded multilayers, ACS Nano 4:1653-1663. (Impact factor 7.5; 17 citations)

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