Higher Degree by Research Application Portal

TitleDendronised polymers for mRNA delivery
SupervisorDr Jessica Kretzmann
Dr Killugudi Swaminatha Iyer
Dr Marck Norret
Dr Cameron Evans
Keywordspolymers, dendrimers, mRNA, gene delivery
Research areaChemical Sciences
Biological Sciences
Project description

Dendrimers are a subclass of synthetic polymers, which possess a highly ordered and defined branched structure, contrary to the randomness of classic synthetic polymers. The synthetic strategies towards dendrimers, allows for a very high degree of control over aspects such as size, surface charge and functionality, which in turn has been utilised to fine-tune desired properties within areas such as materials science and, in particular, drug and gene delivery. Our approach has expanded on the traditional dendrimer morphology, which is globular, to incorporate the defined branches into a linear polymer backbone, which we have shown to improve the drug delivery potential, in areas such as DNA delivery, compared to commercial strategies.

The project involves use of different polymerisation techniques for synthesis of well-defined linear polymers and the synthesis of various dendrons for grafting onto the polymer backbones. Different end uses, such as catalysis, drug and gene delivery will be pursued through careful dendron design. Techniques which will be employed, apart from synthetic strategies, are imaging, including high resolution, cell culture work and general analytical techniques. The candidate will also have the opportunity to apply the dendronized polymer systems in mRNA CAR-T cell therapy applications, with collaborator Prof Michael Edel at the University of Barcelona.

Opportunity statusOpen
Open date01 Sep 2023
Close date31 Oct 2024
Funding source

Applicants are encouraged to apply for a RTP scholarship in the appropriate scholarship round which are open thus:

Domestic applicants - 1 Sep to 31 Oct

International applicants - 1 July to 31 Aug

SchoolSchool of Molecular Sciences

Dr Jessica Kretzman - profile | email

Course typeDoctorates

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is a program of independent, supervised research that is assessed solely on the basis of a thesis, sometimes including a creative work component, that is examined externally. The work presented for a PhD must be a substantial and original contribution to scholarship, demonstrating mastery of the subject of interest as well as an advance in that field of knowledge. 

Visit the course webpage for full details of this course including admission requirements, course rules and the relevant CRICOS code/s.

Duration4 years


Students intending to undertake a dissertation or thesis as part of a Higher Degree by Research (HDR) course at The University of Western Australia, are required to have acquired adequate research preparation, prior to being admitted into a course.

The University's Adequate Research Preparation Policy (UP11/25) details this requirement.

The policy broadly states:

  • An applicant is normally considered to have fulfilled the requirements for admission to a HDR course if they can demonstrate that they have undertaken supervised individual research in which they have designed and conducted a scholarly investigation in the context of an existing body of knowledge.
  • In exceptional circumstances, consideration may be given to applicants whose qualifications do not meet the definitions of adequate research preparation outlined in the policy (clause 4.1), where the school/supervisor believes that the applicant is likely to succeed in the course. In these circumstances, admission may be granted to a Masters Degree by Research in the first instance.