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Surfaces, Microstructure and Fracture Group


1. Infections and Trauma
Translational research aimed at developing diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics. Current projects include the development of novel recombinant antibody reagents for therapeutic and diagnostic applications. We utilize three-dimensional structures in computational predictions to create new routes for enhancing expression and purification of recombinant biologics. These macromolecules (antibodies and antigens) have potential for diagnosing and
treating disease arising from pathogenic bacteria and viruses. A
substantial proportion of our research involves collaborations with industry. In
addition, we are currently optimizing new tissue-based models of traumatic injury and wound infection. Our research includes both fundamental and applied studies related to understanding how pathogens interact with damaged tissues and developing strategies to improve the outcome of trauma-induced infections in the respiratory system.

Dr. William Proud, Imperial College London, UK
Professor Alun Williams, University of Cambridge, UK
Professor Pietro Cicuta, University of Cambridge, UK
Macromoltek LLC, Austin, TX, USA
Bioo Scientific (Perkin-Elmer), Austin, TX, USA

2. Soft Materials
Many natural lightweight biomaterials such as scales, horn, and skin are composed of layers of different structures that work together to impart properties such as strength, toughness and/or tear-resistance. We are developing methods to study how macromolecules and their assembled structures contribute to the material properties of soft biological composites. Experimental platforms traditionally used to study dynamic mechanical responses of hard materials, are being adapted to study these soft materials at a variety of lengthscales.
Material studies are complemented by imaging studies that include high-speed
photography, optical and electron microscopy, and microCT. Data obtained are used in collaborative modeling studies to better understand resilience and failure
mechanisms, and to drive the design new artificial materials with material properties suitable for applications in engineering and biomedicine.

Professor Marc Meyers, University of California at San Diego, USA
Dr. William Proud, Imperial College London, UK
Professor Alun Williams, University of Cambridge, UK

3. Nanoparticles and Imaging
Lanthanide nanomaterials are being increasingly investigated for applications in bioimaging and molecular recognition, due in part to their advantageous photo-physical properties. With the Jones Group at the University of Texas at Austin (link), we are exploring the self-assembly properties and bio-imaging potential of lanthanide based molecular nanoparticles for applications in cell and tissue-based imaging. Biophysical characterization includes the use of small-angle X-ray scattering methods to understand the solution-based structure properties of these materials in different chemical environments.

Professor Richard Jones, University of Texas at Austin, USA
Dr. Emily Que, University of Texas at Austin, USA
Dr. Dmitri Svergun, EMBL-DESY, Hamburg, Germany


Key publications: 

1. “Anisotropic Lanthanide-based Nano-clusters for Imaging Applications”, X. Yang, S. Wang, T.L. King, C. Kerr, C. Blanchet, D.I. Svergun, R. Pal, A. Beeby, J. Vadivelu, K.A. Brown, R.A. Jones, L. Zhang and S. Huang (2016) Faraday Discuss. 191, 465-479.

2. “Self-assembly of High-nuclearity Lanthanide-based Nanoclusters for Potential
Bioimaging Applications”, X. Yang, S. Wang, D. Schipper, L. Zhang, Z. Li, S. Huang, D. Yuan, Z. Chen. A.J. Gnanam, J.W. Hall, T.L. King, E. Que, Y. Dieye, J. Vadivelu, K.A. Brown and R.A. Jones (2016) Nanoscale 8, 11123-11129.

3. “The High-Strain Rate Loading of Structural Biological Materials”, W.G. Proud, T.-T.N. Nguyen, C. Bo, B.J. Butler, R.L. Boddy, A. Williams, S. Masouros and K.A. Brown (2015). Metall. Mater. Trans. A 46, 4550-4566.

4. “Composite Nature of Fresh Skin Revealed During Compression”, B.J. Butler, R.L. Boddy, C. Bo, H. Arora, A. Williams, W.G. Proud and K.A. Brown (2015) Bioinspired, Biomimetic and Nanobiomaterials 4,133-139.

5. “Melioidosis Diagnostic Workshop, 2013: Diagnostic Gaps in Endemic and Non-endemic Areas”, A.R. Hoffmaster, D. AuCoin, P. Baccam, H.C. Baggett, R. Baird, S. Bhengsri, D.D. Blaney, P.J. Brett, T.J.G. Brooks, K.A. Brown, N. Chantratita, A.C. Cheng, D.A.B. Dance, S. Decuypere, D. Defenbaugh, J.E. Gee, R. Houghton, P. Jorakate, G. Lertmemongkolchai, D. Limmathurotsakul, T.L. Merlin, C.  ukhopadhyay, R. Norton, S.J. Peacock, D.B. Rolim, A.J. Simpson, I. Steinmetz, R.A. Stoddard, M.M. Stokes, D. Sue, A. Tuanyok, T. Whistler, V. Wuthiekanun, and H.T. Walke (2015) J. Emerg. Infect. Dis. 21, 141045.

6. “A Self-Assembling Lanthanide Molecular Nanoparticle for Optical Imaging”, K.A. Brown,, X. Yang, D. Schipper, J.W. Hall, L.J. DePue, A.J. Gnanam, J.F. Arambula, J.N. Jones, J. Swaminathan, Y. Dieye, J. Vadivelu, D.J. Chandler, E.M. Marcotte, J.L. Sessler, L.I.R. Ehrlich and R.A Jones (2015) Dalton Trans. 44, 2667-2675.

7. “A Gold Nanoparticle-linked Glycoconjugate Vaccine Against Burkholderia mallei”, A.E. Gregory, B.M. Judy, O. Qazi, C.A. Blumentritt, K.A. Brown, A.M. Shaw, A.G. Torres and R. W. Titball (2015) Nanomedicine 11, 447-456.

8. “Lanthanide Nano-Drums: A New Class of Molecular Nanoparticles for Potential
Biomedical Applications’, R.A. Jones, A.J. Gnanan, J.F. Arambula, J.N. Jones, J.
Swaminathan, X. Yang, D. Schipper, J.W. Hall, L.J. DePue, Y. Dieye, J. Vadivelu, D.J. Chandler, E.M. Marcotte, J.L. Sessler, L.I.R. Ehrlich and K.A. Brown (2014) Faraday Discuss. 175, 241-255.

9. “Mechanical and Histological Characterization of Trachea Tissue Subjected to Blast-type Pressures”, B.J. Butler, C. Bo, A.W. Tucker, A.P. Jardine, W.G. Proud, A. Williams and K.A. Brown (2014), JPCS 500, 182007.

10. “Blast Effects on Biological Systems”, S.D. Masouros, K.A. Brown, J. Clasper and W. G. Proud (2013), Proceedings of the ICE- Engineering and Computational Mechanics 166, 113-118.

11. “Protective Antigens Against Glanders Identified by Expression Library Immunization”, G.C. Whitlock, M.D. Robida, B.M. Judy, O. Qazi, K.A. Brown, A. Deeraksa, K. Taylor, S. Massey, A. Loskutov, A.Y. Borovkov, K. Brown, J.A. Cano, D.M. Magee, A.G. Torres, D.M. Estes, and K.F. Sykes (2011) Front. Microbiol. 2, 227.

12. “A Burkholderia Mip-Like Protein has Rapamycin Inhibitable Peptidyl-Prolyl Isomerase Activity and has Pleiotropic Effects on Virulence”, I. Norville, N. Harmer, S. Harding, G. Fischer, K. Keith, K. Brown, M. Sarker-Tyson and R. Titball (2011) Infect. Immun. 79, 4299-4307.

13. “A Naturally-Derived Outer-Membrane Vesicle Vaccine Protects Against Lethal
Pulmonary Burkholderia pseudomallei Infection”, W. Nieves, S. Asakrah, O. Qazi, K.A. Brown, J. Kurtz, D.P. AuCoin, J.B. McLachlan, C.J. Roy and L.A. Morici (2011) Vaccine 29, 8381-8389.

14. “Development of a Chamber for the Investigation of High-Intensity Compression Waves Upon Live Cell Cultures”, C. Bo, J. Balzer, K.A. Brown, S.M. Walley and W.G. Proud (2011) Eur. Phys. J. Appl. Phys. 55, 31201.

15. “Structural Basis of Molecular Recognition by SHERP at Membrane Surfaces”, B. Moore, A.J. Miles, C. Guerra-Giraldez, P. Simpson, M. Iwata, B.A. Wallace, S.J. Matthews, D.F. Smith and K.A. Brown (2011) J. Biol. Chem. 286, 9246-9256.

16. Development of Reagents and Assays for the Detection of Pathogenic Burkholderia species”, O. Qazi, M. Rani, A.J. Gnanam, T.W. Cullen, C.M. Stead, H. Kensing, K. McCaul, S. Ngugi, J.L. Prior, A. Lipka, J.M. Nagy, G.C. Whitlock, B.M. Judy, S.V. Harding, R.W. Titball, S.S. Sidhu, M.S. Trent, G.B. Kitto, A. Torres, D.M. Estes, B. Iverson, G. Georgiou and K.A. Brown (2011) Faraday Discuss. 149, 23-36.

17. “In-vehicle Extremity Injuries from Improvised Explosive Devices: Current and Future Foci” A. Ramasamy, S.D. Masouros, N. Newell, A.M. Hill, W.G. Proud, K.A. Brown, A.M.J. Bull and J. C. Clasper (2011) Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. B 366, 160-170.

18. “Lipopolysaccharide from Burkholderia thailandensis E264 Provides Protection in a Murine Model of Melioidosis”, S.A. Ngugi, V. V. Ventura, O. Qazi, S.V. Harding, G.B. Kitto, D.M. Estes, A. Dell, R.W. Titball, T.P. Atkins, K.A. Brown, P.G. Hitchen and J. L. Prior (2010) Vaccine 28, 7551-7555.

19. “Protective Response to Subunit Vaccination Against Intranasal Burkholderia mallei and B. pseudomallei Challenge”, G.C. Whitlock, A. Deeraksa, O. Qazi, B.M. Judy, K. Taylor, K.L. Propst, A.J. Duffy, K. Johnson, G.B. Kitto, K.A. Brown, S.W. Dow, A.G. Torres, and D.M. Estes (2010) Procedia Vaccinol. 2, 71-75.

20. “Four Distinct Structural Domains in Clostridium difficile Toxin B Visualized Using SAXS”, D. Albesa-Jové, T. Bertrand, E.P. Carpenter, G.V. Swain, J. Lim, J. Zhang, L.F. Haire, N. Vasisht, V. Braun, A. Lange, C. von Eichel-Streiber, D.I. Svergun, N.F. Fairweather and K.A. Brown (2010) J. Mol. Biol. 396, 1260-1270.

Senior Research Associate/CBIS Senior Fellow
Visiting Reader, Institute of Shock Physics, Imperial College London
Senior Research Scientist, The University of Texas at Austin
Dr Katherine  Brown

Contact Details

UK Contact Details
Cavendish Laboratory, Dept. of Physics
University of Cambridge
J J Thomson Avenue
Cambridge CB3 0HE
US Contact Details
Department of Chemistry
The University of Texas at Austin
Welch Hall, 105 E. 24t Street, A5300
Austin, TX 78712
+44 (0)1223 337205
Takes PhD students
Available for consultancy