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George Mwangi, Ph.D.

george.mwangi@usiouxfalls.edu

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Position:

  • Associate Professor, Chemistry
  • University of Sioux Falls

Education:

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Chemistry, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater
  • Ph.D., Chemistry, University of New Hampshire, Durham
  • M.S., Chemistry, University of Nairobi, Kenya
  • B.S., Chemistry, University of Pune, India

Current Research:

The aim of this research is to develop a chemical sensor that is selective and specific for Dopamine. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter, a chemical messenger between the nerve cells in the mammalian brain. It also plays an important role in the function of the renal, hormonal, and cardiovascular systems. Therefore the development of dopamine quantification in blood and other biological systems is very important. The specific binding sites for dopamine will be created in polymers during the imprinting process. Molecular Imprinted polymer (MIP) microspheres will be synthesized via precipitation polymerization. The dopamine print molecule, the principal monomer, N-Isopropyl acrylamide or vinyl caprolactum, and the functional monomer methacrylic acid will be dispersed in the solvent by sonication. The crosslinker, stabilizer and initiator will then be added to this mixture. The functional monomer will form a complex with the dopamine print molecule and following polymerization, their functional groups will be held in position by the crosslinked polymeric structure. Removal of the print molecule will reveal sites that have a molecular memory, which will allow the polymer to selectively rebind the dopamine analyte.

Recent studies have been undertaken with analogs that have very similar structure. The study was done to determine whether the imprinted polymer would only accept dopamine and not a chemical with other functionality. The analogs studied in the last summer include serotonin, isoproterenol, and catechol. All these analogs have very similar structures and behave somewhat similarly in solutions. The binding studies for these analogs were run in similar fashion as for regular binding studies and results have shown that our polymer allows dopamine to bind with a high specificity. Further studies will be undertaken with other analogs functional monomers.