Group members



Prof Aline F. Miller is a Professor of Biomolecular Engineering in the School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science having joined the University of Manchester in 2002. Prior to this she held a New Hall College Junior Research Fellowship at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University working with Professor Dame Athene Donald FRS. She is a chemist by training (B.Sc. and Ph.D.) and during this time gained several awards, including the Sir George Beilby Medal and the Hackman Research Fellowship. She has also gained several awards while in Manchester including the Exxon Mobil Teaching Fellowship in 2004 and in 2008 was awarded The Royal Society of Chemistry MacroGroup UK Young Researchers Medal and also The Institute of Physics, Polymer Physics Group Young Researchers Lecture Award for her work on self-assembling materials. More recently she won the 2014 Philip Leverhulme Prize for Engineering and was shortlisted for the 2014 WISE Research Award. Aline was elected fellow of the Royal Sociaty of Chemistry (RSC) in 2013 and fellow of the Insitute of Physics (IoP) in 2016. In 2019 she became CEO of Manchester BIOGEL having taken a leave of absence from the University.Prof. Saiani ORCID


Prof Alberto Saiani was awarded an European PhD in 1997 by the University Louis Pasteur, (Strasbourg, France). Following his PhD he held a number of post-doctoral positions in Japan, at Osaka University for which he was awarded a Japanese Society for Promotion of Science postdoctoral fellowship (JSPS), the UK, at imperial College London and Belgium, at Huntsman Polyurethanes. In 2000 he was appointed lecturer at the University Blaise Pascal (Clermont-Ferrand, France) before joining in 2002 the University of Manchester. His research work spans a wide area of experimental polymer and biopolymer science and focuses on understanding and engineering materials across length scales from molecular design all the way to bulk properties and includes fundamental, industrial and translational research. In 2006 he was awarded a 6-months industrial fellowship by the Royal Academy of Engineers (RAEng) to work at AstraZeneca Macclesfield research site and in 2013 he was awarded an 5-year EPSRC Research Fellowship to pursue his work on peptide hydrogels which led to the co-fouding in 2014 of Manchester BIOGEL. In 2016 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).Prof. Saiani ORCID



Dr Siyuan Dong graduated from China Medical University in 2016 with a BSc in Clinical Pharmacy. She then went to study at Queen's University of Belfast and graduated with an Mphil in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology in December 2017. In September 2018, Siyuan joined our group to do a PhD on designing and testing of self-assembling peptide systems for targeted cancer drug delivery. Follwing her PhD she joined our group as a PDRA to work on a drug delivery project to the eye. Prof. Saiani ORCID


Xiaoxia Huang graduated from Beijing University in 2014 with a BEng in Biomaterials. Following her graduation she took on a research assistant position in a company in Chengdu and work on developing and characterizing coating materials for pipelines. In 2016 she went to study at The University of Sheffield and graduated with an MSc in Polymers for Advanced Technologies in January 2017. In September 2017, she joined our group to do a PhD on designing multi-functional peptide hydrogels for biosensing applications. Prof. Saiani ORCID


Cong Ding graduated from Jinan University, China, in 2016 with a BSc in apply chemistry. In 2017 he came to the University of Manchester to do a MSc in polymer materials science and engineering and did his research project in our group. In Spetember 2018 he joined the group to pursue a PhD focusing on peptide self-assembly and gelation. Prof. Saiani ORCID


Nischal "Neesh" Rai graduated from the University of Warwick in 2015 with a BEng in Mechanical Engineering. In 2017 he joined the University of Manchester where he graduated with a MSc in Biomaterials. Subsequently he joined Prof. Julie Gough (Department of Materials) Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Group to pursue, in collaboration with our group and Manchester BIOGEL, a UKRMP2 PhD on designing a multi-layered composite tissue scaffold for the oesophagus.


Zixuan Liu graduated from Sichuan University, China, in 2017 with a BEng in chemical engineering and a BSc in biological science. In 2017 he moved to the University of Manchester obtaining to undertake a MSc in advanced chemical engineering. In January 2019, he joined the group to pursue a PhD focusing on the design double networks peptide self-assembly hydrogel for biomedical applications.


Andong Liu graduated from Central South University, China, in 2018 with a BEng in Bioengineering. In 2018 she moved to the University of Manchester obtaining to undertake a MSc in Biomaterials. In September 2019, she joined the group to pursue a PhD focusing on designing polymer-peptide copolymer hydrogels for biomedical application in collaboratio with Dr. Lu Shin Wong (Department of Chemistry).


Liam McMorrow obtained his medical degree from the University of Manchester and an MRes in Tissue Engineering for Regenerative Medicine in 2013. He is a surgeon having completed his foundation and core surgical training in Manchester and Newcastle before becoming a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 2016 and continues to practice as a Speciality Registrar in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery in Manchester. In 2019 he joined Dr. Adam Reid nerve regeneration group (Division of Cell Matrix Biology & Regenerative Medicine, Blond McIndoe Laboratories) to pursue in collaboration with our group and Manchester BIOGEL a UKRMP2 PhD focussed on engineering a nerve conduit composite for the repair of large gap peripheral nerve injuries.


Laurence Tan graduated from the University of Manchester with a Masters in Pharmacy in 2018. His final Masters project focused on developing local therapies for endometriosis. Following graduation, Laurence undertook his Pre-registration training year at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust to qualify as a GPhC registered pharmacist and continues to practice as a clinical pharmacist at Manchester University NHS foundation trust. In 2019, he joined Prof. Kay Marshallís research group (Division of Pharmacy and Optometry) to work, in collaboration with the group and Manchester BIOGEL, on a PhD project focusing on the development of peptide hydrogel based therapies for endometrial disorders.


Albert Ginjaume graduated from UCH-CEU University (Spain) in 2018 with a BSc in Veterinary medicine. In 2018 he moved to the Queen Mary University of London where he graduated with an MSc in Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering. He subsequently joined the University of Manchester and our group to pursue a UKRMP2 / Manchester BIOGEL PhD focused on the development of peptide-based bioinks for 3D bioprinting applications in collaboration with Dr. Suelen Barg (Department of Materials) and Prof. Judith Hoyland (Division of Cell Matrix Biology & Regenerative Medicine).Prof. Saiani ORCID


Katharine King graduated from Aberystwyth University with a degree in Veterinary Bioscience before going on to complete a MSc in Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Glasgow. In Glasgow she had the opportunity to undertake a research project looking into novel cardiovascular gene therapies in the BHF Glasgow Cardiovascular Research Centre. Subsequently She worked at the University of Liverpool on clinical studies in the areas of pharmacogenomics, cancer immunotherapy, alcohol related brain injury and Covid-19 before joining in 2020 the University of Manchester and Drs Elizabeth Cartwright and Delvac Oceandy groups in the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences being awarded a BHF Accelerator Award PhD Scholarship to work in collaboration with our group on the development of injectable iPSC-cardiomyocyte/ peptide hydrogels for cardiac repair.


Niall Mahon graduated from the University of Surrey in 2020 with a Master of Physics degree. During his integrated masters research project he developed a latex based photonic crystal tissue culture platform for cardiomyocytes. He subsequently was awarded a DTA Scholarship from the University of Manchester, Department of materials to join our group and work in collaboration with Drs Elena Bichenkova (Pharmacy) and Olga Tsigkou (Materials) on the designing of functional 3D self-assemble peptide hydrogels for early detection of cancer co-sponsored by MERCADO, the University of Manchester International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection  (ACED) CRUK award.


Lauren Churchill graduated from Keele University in 2022 with a Master in Science in Biochemistry. In 2020, she worked at the Alderley Park Lighthouse lab, part of the governmentís Covid-19 PCR testing programme in response to the pandemic. In July 2022 she joined the group to pursue a PhD focused on the application of peptide hydrogels for ocular drug delivery, in collaboration with NanOptima.


Stefano Pretto graduated from University College Cork, Ireland, in 2020 with a BSc in Biochemistry. In the same year, he relocated to UK to work as a Cell and Gene Therapy Scientist and focus on the manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccine. In early 2022, he obtained a new position as a Process Development Associate and worked on new plasmid platforms for multi serotype AVVs used on pre-clinical and clinical studies. In September 2022, he joined our group to pursue a PhD in the optimization of hydrogel for the manufacture of 3D organoids model for drug discovery in collaboration with Manchester BIOGEL and the National Physical Laboratory.


Chao-Yu Yang graduated from the National Taiwan University with a bachelor's degree in Agricultural Chemistry (in 2016) and a master's degree in Bio-Industrial Mechatronics Engineering (in 2019). She also studied intermolecular interactions and integrated embedded systems. During 2019-2022, she was a research assistant working on deep learning at the Institute of Information Science, Academia Sinica in Taiwan. In September 2022, she joined our group to pursue a Ph.D. on modeling the self-assembly pathway of amphipathic peptides.


Junzheng Wen graduated from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, in 2022 with a BEng in Materials Engineering. In 2021, he worked at the Singapore Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) as an intern on protein quality evaluation for meat alternatives. In September 2022, he joined our group to pursue a PhD focused on the development of hydrogel scaffold for in-vitro cardiac models, in collaboration with Prof. Bernard Keavney group from the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of Manchester.


Qixun Chu graduated from the University of Science and Technology in Beijing with a degree in Materials Science and Engineering. He then did a MSc in the same field at the University of Manchester. Following his master He joined our group in January 2023 to pursue a PhD on developing novel peptide-based bioinks for 3D bioprinting.


Nastaran Zoghi received her bachelorís degree in Biomedical Engineering, Biomaterials, from Amirkabir University of Technology, Iran in 2017. Continuing her education, she pursued a MSc in the same field at Tarbiat Modares University, Iran, which she completed in 2020. In January 2023, she embarked on a PhD journey in our group focusing on Design and synthesis of novel biodegradable peptide-based elastomers for biomedical applications in collaboration with Dr. Lee Fielding at the Department of Materials.

For past group members see the Alumni page


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