Rashmi Seneviratne

Profile

I graduated with an undergraduate degree and integrated Masters in Chemistry at the University of Leeds in 2016. During my time at Leeds I was given the opportunity to complete a year abroad at Nanyang Technological Uniersity in Singapore where I completed a computational research project on the reactions of cytochrome P450 enzyme under Dr. Hajime Hirao. When I returned back to Leeds for my Masters, I worked with Dr. Paul Beales and Dr. Danielle Miles on the characterisation of interactions in the self-assembly of peptide-glycosaminoglycan hydrogels. After graduation, I started a PhD with the Soft Matter and Functional Interfaces Centre of Doctoral Training (SOFI CDT) run by the Universities of Durham, Edinburgh and Leeds. After 6 months of training, with an input from a variety of industries such as P&G, Epigem and CPI, I chose to return to Leeds to do a project on characterising the properties of hybrid lipid/co-block polymer vesicles in the Beales Group. 

Research interests

Membranes are dynamic surfaces that are responsible for cell compartmentalisation and organisation in biological systems. The membrane consists of a mixture of amphiphilic lipids, glycoproteins, glycolipids and steroids, whose macromolecular structure makes them appropriate for specific functions. Synthetic membranes in the form of vesicles, such as liposomes and polymersomes made from lipids and block copolymers, have several applications: from acting as drug delivery vectors, to their presence in sensors and in micro-reactors , or as models for cell membranes to explore their biophysical properties and interactions. 

The composition of the vesicles determines their functionality and  specific properties such as biocompatibility, long-term stability, mechanical robustness and flexibility, as well as the ability to support functional reconstitution of membrane proteins thereby influencing the applications of the vesicles. Tuning the properties of a membrane will make creating a vesicle with the desired functionality more feasible. This can be achieved by understanding how the combination of membrane composition and the resulting bulk physiochemical properties affect the functions vesicles can perform and thus the applications the vesicles can be used for.

The aim of this project is to explore the bulk physiochemical properties, such as structure, mechanics and dynamics, of hybrid lipid and block copolymer vesicles. Using Cytochrome bo3 as a model protein that is inserted into the hybrid lipid/polymer membrane is used to determine whether the protein will retain its native folding and functionality, thus allowing the observation of the biocompatibility and stability of the vesicle. 

 

 

https://www.dur.ac.uk/soft.matter/soficdt/about/ 

Qualifications

  • BSc and MChem in Chemistry (Int)

Research groups and institutes

  • Food Colloids and Soft Matter at Interfaces