R. Scott Murphy


Office: RIC 322
Phone: 306-585-4247
Website: http://uregina.ca/~murphyr

Research interests

Photoresponsive lipid-based self-assemblies; Photochromism; Photochemistry; Supramolecular Chemistry.

E-mail R. Scott Murphy

Professional qualifications:

BSc (PEI), PhD (Victoria), Postdoctoral Studies (Toronto).


Organic Chemistry; Physical Chemistry; Photochemistry; Supramolecular Chemistry.

Research synopsis:

We are developing amphiphilic organic molecules that respond to light by changing their structure and properties. These light-driven molecular switches (i.e., photoswitches) will be integrated with lipid vesicles to form photoresponsive self-assembled structures. These biocompatible self-assemblies will have potential application in ‘on-demand’ drug delivery and theranostics (i.e., therapy and diagnostics).

Nanoparticle delivery vehicles offer many advantages over conventional drug formulations. They increase drug solubility, minimize drug degradation, reduce clearance from the body, and enhance therapeutic efficacy. In addition, a delivery vehicle with light-triggered release provides a high level of spatial and temporal control. As a result, a higher local concentration of therapeutics can be dispensed, reducing the overall injected dose and systemic toxicity.  Further, photoresponsive delivery vehicles with reversible photoswitches allow for repeated ‘on-demand’ dosing from a single administration.

Currently, the main challenges facing photoresponsive lipid vesicles as drug delivery systems is the lack of control over the release of hydrophobic therapeutic molecules from the lipid bilayer or hydrophilic molecules from the aqueous core.  In addition, most photoswitches rely on high-energy UV light for activity. This dependence on hinders their use in biomedical applications because UV light can be damaging to endogenous molecules, and has relatively poor tissue penetration, which limits its use to organs that can be directly reached by endoscopic techniques.

Consequently, our research program aims to address these issues. Overall, we will produce photoresponsive, biocompatible self-assemblies with application in drug delivery and theranostics. Our approach will produce new photochromic materials, lead to patentable technologies, and benefit public health.

Representative publications:

Publications from personal web site