The FEPS staff Researcher of the Year has been named as Department of Chemistry lecturer Dr Gabriel Cavalli.
Gabriel has won the prize for his multidisciplinary research using polymer nanotechnology for drug delivery. In particularly, his main project aims at using this chemistry to come up with a way to reduce cholesterol and people’s risk of cardiovascular heart disease and heart attacks.
Over 80,000 people die each year from coronary heart disease (CHD) and a big contributing factor is high cholesterol. CHD occurs when the coronary arteries become narrowed by a build-up of fatty material in their walls – high levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood contribute to this.
Gabriel’s research, funded by a £300,000 grant from the British Heart Foundation, is a collaboration between researchers at the University of Surrey, the University of Bath, St Mary’s College, Twickenham and cardiologists at Brighton and Sussex Medical School.
Commenting on his win, Gabriel, the Principal Investigator, said, “The multidisciplinary nature of this project makes it a very appealing and fulfilling project. Our aim is to contribute with a project that will save lives. The prevalence of high cholesterol and heart disease means this is an area of very high impact.”
Gabriel and his team are exploring strategies of protein-polymer conjugation to develop nanomedicines for treating cardiovascular disease.
Gabriel, who joined Surrey as a Chemistry lecturer in August 2006, has been responsible for developing the area of polymeric therapeutics at the University.
“Although I had worked before with polymers in a biomedical context I wasn’t working on polymer therapeutics. Our aim is to put Surrey on the map in this area.”
According to Gabriel the multidisciplinary team is progressing well with the research.
“We have already established the development of the materials needed for this project. We are now ready to combine them with the drugs responsible for the lowering of cholesterol (the focus of the BHF grant), having already established this with model systems. The grant continues for a further year from January and at the end of the project we will be in a position to make certain recommendations for taking the project further and looking to apply for more funding.”
Gabriel will be presented with his award at a University prize-giving dinner in November.
This project has been highlighted on the BHF website.