Department of Chemistry
Mark Schoenfisch

Mark Schoenfisch

Professor; Director of Graduate Studies
919-962-2388 (fax)
Caudill 318


Research Interests

Analytical Sensors, Biomaterials, Nanoparticle Therapeutics, and Scanning Probe Microscopy

Professional Background

University of Kansas, B.A. (1992); University of Arizona, Ph.D. (1997); University of Michigan, National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow (1998-1999); Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh Young Investigator Award (2001); Eli Lilly and Company Young Investigator Award (2002-2004); National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2004-2009); International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry Young Observer Award (2005); John L. Sanders Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and Service (2007); Chapman Family Teaching Award for Distinguished Teaching of Undergraduate Students (2015)

Research Synopsis

The objectives of our research include investigating protein adsorption related to thrombosis and improving the biocompatibility of medical implants and sensors by employing and further developing scanning probe microscopy, immunoassays, molecular patterning via contact printing and self-assembly strategies, nitric oxide (NO) release methods, and sol-gel chemistry.

In an effort to study the fundamentals of protein adsorption at a molecular level we are combining scanning probe microscopy (SPM) with immunoassay methods as the basis of a new analytical approach termed Immunoassay-Scanning Probe Microscopy. The goal of this research is to map how the structure (i.e., orientation and conformation) of plasma proteins varies as a function of biomaterial, protein concentration, residence time, and temperature.

The performance and ultimate usefulness of implantable chemical sensors is dependent upon materials that prevent bacterial adhesion and biofilm formation (leading to infection), and for certain applications foster healing (e.g., subcutaneous electrodes for which tissue disruption and injury are inherent). A promising strategy for addressing the lingering biocompatibility quandaries involves the localized release of nitric oxide (NO). We are developing sol-gel materials that release NO and evaluating whether NO release influences bacterial adhesion and wound healing. Of fundamental importance is whether the NO release chemistry can be incorporated into the sensor design without compromising sensor function.