Characterization of lipid bilayer membranes through droplet mechanics

Project Title: Characterization of lipid bilayer membranes through droplet mechanics.


Project Mentors

  • Primary Faculty Mentor:
    • Eric Freeman
    • College of Engineering
    • 706-583-0611
  • Secondary Faculty Mentor:
    • Xianqiao Wang
    • College of Engineering
    • 706-542-6251
  • Graduate Student/PostDoc mentors:


Project Description: The proposed research examines interactions between dendrimers and lipid membranes.  Dendrimers are branching macromolecules commonly used to encapsulate otherwise insoluble therapeutics and provide targeted drug delivery by disrupting the cell membrane during endocytosis.  However their transfection efficiency is intrinsically linked to their cytotoxicity, and a better understanding of their interactions with lipid membranes is necessary for optimization.  This project uses electrophysiology and synthetic lipid membranes to determine the nature of the dendrimer-membrane interactions prior to membrane failure, and these findings are compared against simulation results.


REU Student Role and Responsibility: The REU student will be responsible for preparing solutions, forming adhered droplet pairs through the DIB technique, and measuring and interpreting changes in lipid membrane properties after the introduction of dendrimers. Dependent on initial results the student may also be responsible for developing microfluidic substrates to provide perfusion of droplet contents.


Required skills or courses for the REU student: The ideal student should be familiar with MATLAB, basic laboratory skills, and able and willing to learn new skills and techniques.


Expected Outcome for REU student: If the experiments are successful, the REU student will be invited to assist in the development of a manuscript as a co-author describing membrane-nanoparticle interactions.