Exploring peptoid xenopolymers as functional biomaterials

Andrew Surman (primary)
King's College, London
Dr Helena Azevedo (secondary)
School of Engineering and Materials Science [SEMS]


Peptide gel materials are appealing tools to explore and manipulate biological systems. Their controllable self-assembly properties [e.g. stiffness, degradability] and biocompatibility are well-suited for biomaterial application, e.g. as scaffolds for growth and differentiation of cells/tissues. However, synthesis is costly, slow, and far from green, making discovery of new materials slow.

This PhD project will exploit developments from studies on the Origin of Life [simple synthesis, without sophisticated protection/deprotection protocols or biology’s machinery] to make cheap, plentiful, materials resembling peptides, then explore their potential as biomaterials [e.g. for cell culture or antimicrobial coatings].


1 [Rodriguez, Surman, et al; Nat. Comms. 2015] = Nature Comms., 2015, 6, 8385.
2 [Surman, Rodriguez, et al; PNAS. 2019] = Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 2019, 116, 5387.
3 [Forsyth, et al; Angew, 2015] = Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2015, 54, 9871.
4 Radvar E, Azevedo HS [2019] Supramolecular Nanofibrous Peptide/Polymer Hydrogels for the Multiplexing of Bioactive Signals, ACS Biomater Sci & Eng, 5[9]: 4646-4656

5 Ferreira DS, Reis RL and Azevedo HS [2013]. Peptide-based Microcapsules Obtained by Self-assembly and Microfluidics as Controlled Environments for Cell Culture. Soft Matter, 9[38]: 9237-9248.

Molecules, cells and industrial biotechnology
Area of Biology
Chemical Biology
Techniques & Approaches
BiochemistryChemistryEngineeringMicroscopy / Electrophysiology