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Master of Science (M.S.)

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Gold Nanoparticles, Drug Delivery, Hydrophobicity, Protein Delivery, Sustained Release, siRNA


Nanoparticles are important tools in biotechnology and biomedical research. Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) have emerged as a particularly important class of nanobiotechnological tools as a result of a number of unique and useful attributes. These attributes include the high degree of biocompatibility of AuNP cores, the similarity in size of AuNPs and biomacromolecules, and the great chemical flexibility of AuNP surface design.

One of the most promising applications of AuNPs in biotechnology and biomedicine is their use as drug delivery vehicles. Drug delivery vehicles provide therapeutics with desired delivery properties by targeting them specifically to the environments in which their therapeutic activity is sought and by overcoming solubility barriers. The drug delivery properties of AuNPs are a function of their sizes and surface chemistries. The nanometer scale of AuNPs allows these three-dimensional and diffusible self-assembled monolayers to act as substructures for supramolecular assemblies, to extravasate from tumor-supplying endothelia, and to undergo cellular uptake by endocytosis.

AuNPs have become a versatile platform for the creation of multifunctional delivery vehicles. This work represents a collection of studies in which AuNPs have been used as probes in fundamental biological research and delivery systems for small molecules and biologics. In these studies, precision control of surface chemistry on the nanometer scale, made possible by AuNPs, has been used to find solutions to the problems of unraveling the role of hydrophobicity in immune system activation, delivering proteins past mammalian cell membranes, development of a sustained release drug delivery platform, and condensation and cellular delivery of siRNA.


First Advisor

Vincent M Rotello

Second Advisor

James Chambers