Ocular Delivery



Eye diseases affect a significant portion of the population, with effects ranging from mild discomfort to partial or complete loss of vision. Fortunately, medications can help manage the symptoms of these diseases, but treatment often requires taking eye drops multiple times a day which tends to be difficult for patients. Not only is this type of treatment inconvenient, but the high dosages required can cause serious side effects.

The eye is excellent at clearing away foreign materials. However, if we prevent this fast clearing, we can reduce both the number of dosages and the amount of drugs required per dose. In our lab, we aim to develop nanomedicine by packaging drugs inside nanoparticle carriers that stick to the eye and slowly release the drugs. The drugs are loaded inside the centre of the nanoparticles with ligands(molecules) on the surface of the nanoparticles that specifically bind to the mucous membranes. Once attached to the eye’s mucous membrane (mucoadhesion), the nanoparticles slowly release the drugs over the span of a week and will not be cleared away by tears, resulting in fewer required dosages and less drugs per dose.

Selected Publications

Nanomaterials for Ocular Drug Delivery

In vitro uptake and release of natamycin Dex-b-PLA nanoparticles from model contact lens materials

Development of Mucoadhesive Drug Delivery System Using Phenylboronic Acid Functionalized Poly(D,L-lactide)-b-Dextran Nanoparticles

Phenylboronic acid modified mucoadhesive nanoparticle drug carriers facilitate weekly treatment of experimentally induced dry eye syndrome

Prolonged Ocular Retention of Mucoadhesive Nanoparticle Eye Drop Formulation Enables Treatment of Eye Diseases Using Significantly Reduced Dosage

Water Treatment


Recent years have seen a dramatic shift in public awareness of environmental issues. Our research group is using nanotechnology to develop photocatalysts which harness solar energy to break down organic pollutants in water by efficiently and passively scrubbing wastewater of toxic materials. Once the water is cleaned, the photocatalyst is completely recovered from the water and can be reused continuously to create more clean water without producing any waste. 

One challenge that we aim to overcome using this technology is the large volumes of process water stored on site in Canada's oil sands operations, which cannot be released because they contain dissolved naphthenic acids, which are byproducts from the oil extraction process. Our lab is actively developing water treatment solutions to enable a green revolution for Canada's oil sands.

Another challenging task is the treatment of toxic byproducts in mining, agricultural and power generating industries. Recent focus in water treatment research has shifted to selenium, due to its toxicity in aquatic environments at concentrations of a single part per billion. We are looking to the nanoscale in order to design a reusable highly functional photocatalytic material capable of selectively removing Se to below parts per billion concentrations.



Selected Publications

Solar photocatalytic degradation of naphthenic acids in oil sands process-affected water

Hydrogenation processing of TiO2 nanoparticles

Mesoporous Magnetically Recyclable Photocatalysts for Water Treatment

Photocatalytic degradation kinetics of naphthenic acids in oil sands process-affected water: Multifactorial determination of significant factors

Pathogen Diagnostics


In the mid­-20th century, experts believed the discovery of vaccines and antibiotic drugs would erase the problem of infectious diseases. Unfortunately, this prediction has not held true. Infectious and parasitic diseases still devastate the global population. They account for almost 30% of all disability adjusted life years (DALY), in which one DALY means that one year of "healthy" life is lost. In an effort to improve disease outcomes, strategies for the diagnosis of infectious diseases are being enhanced. These innovations are producing methods that are more rapid, reliable, sensitive and practical. Many of these strategies are based on nanomaterials.

Our lab investigates the use of particular nanomaterials, such as gold nanoparticles, to develop nanodiagnostic platforms for the detection and identification of pathogens, which are microorganisms that can cause disease. We aim to develop a product that can simultaneously detect and identify several pathogens in a single test.

Selected Publications

Interactions between bacterial surface and nanoparticles govern the performance of “chemical nose” biosensors

Towards point-of-care detection of polymicrobial infections: Rapid colorimetric response using a portable spectrophotometer

Controlling “chemical nose” biosensor characteristics by modulating gold nanoparticle shape and concentration

Soil Remediation


Soil contamination by petroleum hydrocarbons is a global issue with deep environmental consequences. While ocean­ based oil spills receive the most news coverage, land oil spills actually make up the majority of oil spills worldwide. They result in the distribution of chemicals with potentially severe or chronic health effects to plants, animals and humans. It is necessary to treat soil impacted by spilled oil; however the process is often slow and costly because it is difficult to access the contaminants in the soil which are trapped below the surface. Most commonly, ex situ technologies are used which dig up the contaminated soil before treatment, though this results in environmental damage and has no long­ term sustainability. 

Nanoparticle­ based in situ processes have the potential to deliver effective treatments while enabling sustainability by limiting environmental damage. By modifying the surface properties of nanoparticles, they can be designed to avoid interactions with clean soil and favour interactions with target contaminants. Therefore, the nanoparticles will move through clean soil and stick only to contaminated soil. This targeted delivery approach that we are developing in our lab promises to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and economics of in situ soil remediation to offer practical alternatives to conventional ex situ technologies.