Romain Morodo, researcher at the CITOS laboratory wins a BAEF grant for a postdoctoral stay at Stanford University
Romain Morodo, researcher at the Center for Integrated Technology and Organic Synthesis (Research Unit MolSys / Faculty of Science) of the ULiège has been awarded a BAEF (Belgian American Education Foundation) grant to carry out a one-year research stay at Stanford University (California). His research at the interface of organic chemistry and chemical engineering consists in using new technologies and catalytic methods for the development of new biomaterials.
omain Morodo studied Chemistry at the University of Liège, where he obtained his M. Sc. degree in 2018. Beforehand, he moved to Avon (France) for a research internship in industry at Corning Inc. and came back to Belgium to complete his Master Thesis on the valorization of biomass derivatives using continuous flow technology under the supervision of Prof. JeanChritophe Monbaliu. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in the same group working on the continuous flow preparation of value-added organophosphorus compounds including biodegradable materials, active pharmaceutical ingredients and ligands for asymmetric catalysis within a collaborative European research project.
As a constantly evolving field, macromolecular synthesis has always attracted considerable attention due to the plethora of resulting applications. This is due in part to developments in methodology, catalysis and process chemistry acting as a driving force towards new discoveries in the preparation of polymeric materials, as well as recent developments which were triggered by the need for a higher control on various parameters such as composition, functionalization, degradability, sustainability, architecture or length for novel polymers. Biomedical applications, in particular, require extensive attention on the material used not only due to the necessary biocompatibility and biodegradability but also on the functionality and sensitivity to ensure the reach of the proper biological targets. Recent advancements regarding organocatalyzed procedures relying on small organic molecules rather than metal-based catalysts for polymerization reactions have opened new routes towards well-defined materials. These methods complement transition-metal catalyzed polymerizations by different mechanistic pathways towards novel polymers while avoiding costly removal of metal contaminants for biomedical and microelectronic applications.
Developments of novel functional polymeric materials have tremendous benefits for biomedical applications, yet, despite extensive efforts engaged in the preparation of such compounds the time-, resource- and labor-intensive processes required to generate new families of materials is actually bottlenecking discovery. In Romain’s project this issue will be addressed by developing a programmable high-throughput continuous flow platform for the preparation of polymer libraries including the upstream generation of the source monomers. The association of efficient organocatalyzed polymerizations with a continuous flow system will allow to generate with a high productivity a large variety of polymeric materials in a reduced period of time while efficiently controlling their physical properties which is required for most biomedical applications.
This project will take place at the laboratory of Prof. Robert M. Waymouth (Stanford University) which is internationally renowned for the development of novel catalytic methods to produce polymeric materials for biomedical applications. Such applications include drug delivery of mRNA for alternative SARS-CoV2 vaccine or localized antitumor effect and fluorescein-derived probes for diagnostic applications. Moreover, regular collaborations with other groups from the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Medicine at Stanford University allows to directly assess the innovative materials for biomedical applications while a strong partnership with IBM allows to benefit from the expertise of the industry.