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Gibson Group: Dr Tom Congdon


Tom was born in Guildford, Surrey in 1989. From 2007 to 2011 Tom carried out an MChem with Professional Experience at the University of Warwick. During this time he undertook a research project with Dr David McGuinness at the University of Tasmania in Australia examining alternative synthetic routes to aluminium catalysts for the polymerisation of ethylene. His masters project, under the supervision of Prof. Andrew Dove examined the alternatives to (-)-spartiene in the ring opening polymerisation of lactide.

Shortly after this Tom joined the group to study for his PhD under the supervision of Dr Matthew Gibson and Dr Rebecca Notman jointly with Alaina Emmanuella where, respectively, they utilised controlled radical polymerisation and computational molecular modelling to study the properties of antifreeze active synthetic macromolecules. Several new discoveries have been reported and published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at international conferences.

Tom then joined the group of Prof. Marc Gauthier at the INRS-EMT in Quebec, Canada, as a Post Doctoral Research Fellow, funded by the FRQS and Cancer Research Canada. He studied molecular sieving coatings polymerised from surface of proteins, for the improved treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Combining controlled radical polymerisation and polymer-protein conjugation techniques, he prepared and screened a library of novel teardrop-shaped PEGMA copolymers with unprecedented retention of enzymatic activity, but very low antigenicity.

Research Interests

1) Antifreeze-Protein Inspired Materials

Utilizing low-cost readily available materials and polymers to mimic the ice shaping and ice recrystalisation inhibition of antifreeze protiens is a facinating area of research, requiring a multi-disiplinary approach and cutting edge polymer synthesis technologies. It will also lead to low cost, easily implementable technologies and products that will profundly change the storage, transportation and viability of perishable and frozen material and may lead to breakthroughs in new forms of cryo-medicine and cyro-surgery.

2) Controlled polymerisation of Lesser Activated Monomers (LAMs)

Recently the field of controlled polymerisation has exploded with a host of new technologies allowing scientists to precisely control the length and nature of a polymer chain, which has lead to the synthesis of novel achitecture and the start of a mimic of biological and protien-like systems. However while certain monomers are readily polymerisable some remain diffcult to control the molecular weight, or outright incompatible with modern controlled radical polymerisation systems.

3) Protein Polymer Conjugates

Since the discovery of PEGylation, the study of protein-polymer conjugates has exploded, and produced several viable therapies that are used commercially. Proteins are also being used more and more in pharmaceuticals. By combining new controlled/living radical polymerisation techniques we can already prepare stimuli responsive coatings that can target specific tissues, and protect the protein in vivo. My interests here are in the manipulation of the protein corona, installing novel functionality and architectures onto the protein surface, and the development of new conjugate systems.


1. Congdon T., Notman,R., Gibson, M.I., European Polymer Journal, 2017, 88, 320-327 Synthesisof star-branched poly (vinyl alcohol)and ice recrystallization inhibition activity

2. Benedetti, M., Congdon T., Bassett, S.P., Alauhdin, M., Howdle, S.M.,Haddleton,D.M.,Pisano,R., Sangermano, M., Schiller, T.M., Polymer Chemistry 2017, 6, 972-975 Synthesis of Polymeric Microcapsules by Interfacial-Suspension Cationic Photopolymerisation of Divinyl Ether Monomer in Aqueous Suspension

3. Risangud, N., Congdon, T., Keddie, D.J., Wilson, P., Kempe, K., Haddleton, D.M., Journal of Polymer Science Part
A: Polymer Chemistry 2016 54(17), 2698-2705 Polyurea Microcapsules from Isocyanatoethyl Methacrylate Copolymers

4. Congdon, T., Notman, R., Gibson, M.I., Biomacromolecules 2016 17, 3033-3039 Influence of Block Copolymerization on the Antifreeze Protein Mimetic Ice Recrystallization Inhibition Activity of Poly (vinyl alcohol)

5. Phillips, D.J., Congdon, T., Gibson, M.I., Polymer Chemistry 2016 7, 1701-1704 Activation of Ice Recrystallization Inhibition Activity of Poly (vinyl alcohol) using a Supramolecular Trigger

6.Mitchell,D.E., Congdon, T., Rodger, A., Gibson, M.I. 2015, 5Scientific Reports, Gold Nanoparticle Aggregation as a Probe of Antifreeze (Glyco) Protein-Inspired Ice Recrystallization Inhibition and Identification of New IRI Active Macromolecules

7. Congdon, T., Dean B. T., Kasperczak-Wright, J., Biggs, C.I., Notman, R., Gibson, M.I., Biomacromolecules, 2015, 201, 2820-2826 Probing the Biomimetic Ice Nucleation Inhibition Activity of Poly(vinyl alcohol) and Comparison to Inactive Synthetic and Biological Polymers

8. Congdon, T., Shaw P., Gibson, Polymer Chemistry, 2015, 6, 4749-4757, Thermoresponsive, Well-defined, Poly(vinyl alcohol) Co-polymers

9. Congdon, T., Wilmet, C., Williams, R., Polt, J., Lilliman, M., and Gibson, M.I., European Polymer Journal, 2015, 62, 352-362, Diversely Functional Carbohydrate-Centred Oligomers and Polymers. Thermoresponsivity, Lectin Binding and Degradability

10. Congdon, T., Notman, R., Gibson, MI, Biomacromolecules, 2013, 14, 1578-1586, Antifreeze (Glyco)Protein Mimetic Behaviourof Poly(vinyl alcohol): Detailed Structure-Ice Recrystallisation Inhibition Activity Study
(Cited 66 Times)

11.Deller, R.C., Congdon, T., Sahid, M., Morgan, M., Vatish, M., Mitchell, D.A., Notman, R., Gibson, M.I., Biomaterials Science, 2013, 1, 478-485, Ice Recrystallisation Inhibition by Polyols: Comparisonof Molecular and Macromolecular Inhibitors and Role of Hydrophobic Units (Top 10 Most accessed Articles Jan and Feb 2013)
In addition, 4 manuscripts and a book chapter are currently in preparation


Oral Presentations:

  • 100t​h Canadian Society of Chemistry Conference and Exhibition, June 2017, Toronto, Canada
  • 11th International Conference on Materials Chemistry, July 2013, University of Warwick, UK ​

Poster Presentations:

  • Canadian Society for Pharmaceutical Sciences Conference, May 2017, Montreal, Canada ​Poster Presentation
  • 248th ACS National Meeting and Exposition, 10-14t​ h August 2014, San Francisco, CA ​Poster Presentation


Grants and Bursaries

  • FRQS Postdoctoral Training Scholarship (60,000 CAD) ​To support the research project at the INRS-EMT for two years. Application rated 3rd out of 900 applicants.
  • RSC Travel Grant (£800)​ To support travel to the ACS 2014 in San Francisco.