Project 1: Bright ruby nanoparticles to study pain-relief

Dr. Varun K. A. Sreenivasan, Prof. Ewa Goldys, Prof. Mark Connor & A/Prof. Andrei V. Zvyagin

Chronic pain is treated clinically using drugs similar to morphine, but the locations of the targeted sites in the brain and their mechanisms of action are not fully understood. Your project will be a part of the group’s effort in creating optically bright nanoparticle probes with which a microscopic map of the morphine-active regions of the whole rat brain will be created. Imagine a day when you can pin-point all the neurons in the brain locations that are activated by a pain-killing medication that you were prescribed – this is what we are focus on.

10-200 nm sized nanoruby crystals, which appear as bright red dots under a fluorescence microscope, can be used to tag individual molecules of drugs. The project will focus on re-engineering the nanoparticle surface with drugs analogous to morphine. The drug-nano-complexes you prepare will be used to microscopically track individual molecules of pain relieving drugs in brain cells and tissue. Nanorubies offer unparalleled combination of sensitivity and tracking resolution, allowing us to address questions in biology.

Your work will be supported by the Department of Physics, the Australian School of Advanced Medicine, and the ARC Centre of Excellence for NanoScale Biophotonics based at the Macquarie University. You can expect PhD completion in 3 years.

Contact: and for more information.



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