Research in the Maynard Group lies at the frontiers of chemistry, biomaterials, biotechnology, and nanotechnology and involves an exciting combination of organic and polymer synthesis, materials characterization and biomedical application. Currently the group is applying our polymers to therapeutic delivery of proteins to treat important diseases such as diabetes, chronic wounds and cancer. In addition, a part of the group is working on polymers for agricultural applications to meet the urgent need to feed the growing global population. As a result, Maynard group members make important contributions to a variety of fields and learn a combination of skills that sets them apart favorably in the job market.
Our group rationally designs polymers for a variety of applications. We have applied this strategy to prepare polymers that are protein reactive, protein stabilizing, stimuli-responsive, or that degrade when triggered. Most often, the polymers are synthesized by controlled radical polymerization techniques, ring opening metathesis polymerizations or other syntheses that provide well-defined polymers with control over their molecular weights. These materials are applied to two main areas: medicine and sustainable agriculture/food applications.
We exploit new chemistries for the synthesis of biocompatible polymeric hydrogels for cell encapsulation and delivery. By tuning the linkage chemistry, we can also tune degradation rates. The same chemistries can be employed to prepare nano-sized hydrogels. Biocompatible nanomaterials are synthesized in the group because of their importance for the delivery of therapeutic proteins and small molecules, particularly for applications in targeted cancer treatment and diabetes.
We rationally design polymers to stabilize heparin-binding proteins for applications in wound healing. For example, basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) is a protein that plays an important role in the wound healing processes. However, the instability and rapid degradation of bFGF have lowered its effectiveness as a therapeutic. We prepare polymer conjugates to stabilize both bFGF and other protein therapeutics and increase their in vivo bioactivity.
Precise control over the position of multiple different proteins on a single chip has tremendous potential in applications of tissue engineering, diagnostics, proteomics and biosensors. We develop strategies to produce both two- and three-dimensional multicomponent micro- and nanopatterns using specialty designed polymers and electron beam lithography. We apply our patterns to sensors, cell adhesion and for encrypted messages using shape-shifting surfaces that morph upon changes in temperature.