Megan O'Grady 

Postdoctoral Associate
B.S. in Physics, Vanderbilt University
Ph.D in Biomedical Engineering, Harvard University Hometown: Glenelg, MD

Incorporation of Synthetic Polypeptides in Polyelectrolyte Multilayer Films

Synthetic polypeptides have attracted much interest for biomedical engineering applications due to their ability to serve as structural mimics to natural biomacromolecules. The capability to tightly control the dimensions, structure and active functional groups of these polypeptides enables their use in a wide range of biological applications.  Moreover, incorporation of these syhnthetic polypepetides in multilayer layer-by-layer polyelectrolyte films facilitates the integration of tunable, synthetic biomacromolecules into multilayer films. We are investigating the fundamental behavior of polypeptide comb polymers within polyelectrolyte multilayers.  By exploiting the ability of the synthetic polypeptide poly(γ-propargyl-L-glutamate) (PPLG) to achieve side chain grafting densities of ~100%, we have synthesized a wide range of polypeptide comb polymer architectures. The ability to efficiently graft various functional groups to the PPLG backbone endows the polymer with incredible functionality, since the dimensions and charge along the polymer backbone can be tightly controlled. Therefore, by controlling the charge along the PPLG backbone, the PPLG structure can be engineered to permit incorporation into polyelectrolyte multilayer films. The dependence of layer-by-layer film incorporation on polypeptide architecture and deposition conditions will be useful in integrating more complex polypeptide and comb polymer architectures into polyelectrolyte multilayer films.