Adolphe Merkle Institute alum Omar Rifaie Graham (Macromolecular Chemistry) has been awarded the University of Fribourg’s prize for best experimental thesis.
The award, which was announced last week by the University’s Faculty of Science and Medicine, was in recognition of Rifaie Graham’s PhD project “Cell inspired force and light responsive polymersome nanoreactors and polymerisation based diagnostics”. His work was also influential for the AMI malaria diagnostics project Hemolytics.
Since completing his PhD in 2018 in Professor Nico Bruns’ group, Rifaie Graham has been working in the Stevens laboratory at Imperial College in London as a post-doctoral researcher funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. He was recently awarded a prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship. His two-year project aims to find parameters that allow polymersomes (i.e. nanoscale hollow polymer containers in water) to self-synthesize autocatalytically, and reproduce in a similar way to cells that divide. Ideally, this would permit the supply of existing polymersomes with essential chemical “nutrients” to allow growth and self-replication, and could be also controlled by external stimuli such as light.