Seb SpainDr Sebastian Spain

Lecturer in Polymer Chemistry

Tel: +44-(0)114-22-29362

Fax: +44-(0)114-22-29346




Biographical Sketch

Dr. Spain received his MChem from the University of Durham, followed by a PhD from the same institution. He then moved to a postdoctoral positions at the Department of Clinical Pharmacology, University of Oxford (2008-10), and the School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham (2010-14). In 2014 he was appointed as a Lecturer at the University of Sheffield.

Professional Qualifications & Memberships


Teaching Qualifications

Certificate in Learning and Teaching (2017)

Research Keywords

Polymer Synthesis, Polymer Characterisation, Controlled Radical Polymerisation, Biomaterials, Drug Delivery, Pharmaceutics, Responsive Materials, DNA assembly, Immunological Materials, Glycopolymers, Bioconjugation, Gene Delivery, Virotherapy

Teaching Keywords

Polymer Chemistry, Radical Chemistry

Selected Publications:

Research Interests

My research interests lie at the interfaces of chemistry, biology and pharmacy, particularly the use of modern synthetic polymer chemistry for the development of new therapeutics and diagnostics. Particular areas of interest are outlined below.

Stimuli-Responsive Materials

Stimuli-responsive, or "smart", materials are those that display a non-linear change in properties (e.g. solubility) in the presence of an external trigger. By matching the stimulus to the biochemical environment of a certain disease or tissue the resulting property switch can be used target that site. For example, through use of a temperature responsive polymer the uptake of drug loaded particles into cells can be controlled in a temperature dependent manner. In addition to commonly used stimuli (e.g. pH or temperature) we have developed systems that respond to specific nucleic acid sequences, allowing far greater control over the switching process. We are now extending this research to target markers of immunological disease.

Modular approaches to biomaterials

Despite advances in controlled polymerisation, polymeric materials are, by their nature, disperse with a distribution of molecular weights/chain lengths. This dispersity leads to additional variables when comparing different materials which is particularly problematic in an already complex system such as a human cell. Modular approaches, where a core structure may be later decorated with functional components, allow many materials to be synthesised and compared while minimising variations in dispersity.

Biological interactions with polymers

Polymers have been used routinely in cosmetics and medicines for decades however there is increasing materials that have been "generally regarded as safe" may not always be so. I am interested in how synthetic polymers interact with biological entities, by what mechanism and how can altering polymer structure affect this interaction.

Teaching Section

Organic Chemistry

Undergraduate Courses Taught

  • Advanced Polymer Chemistry (Year 4)
    This segment introduces ways of synthesizing polymers with useful functionality and introduces the basic concepts involved in carrying out these reactions.

Postgraduate Courses Taught

  • Fundamental Polymer Chemistry
  • Advanced Polymer Chemistry

Tutorial & Workshop Support

  • First Year General Tutorials.
  • Third Year Literature Review.

Laboratory Teaching

  • Second Year Demonstrating
  • Third Year Advandced Organic Chemistry
  • Fourth Year Research Project

Journal articles