Michael Lueckheide

Michael Lueckheide

Graduate Student

Contact Information

Office: (773) 702-7063
Email: milueckheide@uchicago.edu

5640 South Ellis Avenue
Eckhardt Research Laboratory 108
Chicago, IL 60637

Biographical Statement

Michael Lueckheide received his B.A. in Chemistry and Physics from Vassar College in Spring 2013. He is currently a member of the Chemistry Ph. D. program at the University of Chicago, and is working under Prof. Matthew Tirrell in the Institute for Molecular Engineering while being advised by Prof. Bozhi Tian. At Vassar, Michael worked with Prof. Christopher Smart to functionalize carbon nanotubes with metal nanoparticles and create conductive scaffolds for sensors. Now, Michael creates and characterizes polymer micelles with a focus on biomaterials development.

Research

My research is currently focused on the design, characterization, and control of biocompatible polyelectrolyte complexes and complex micelles that contain polypeptides and nucleic acids. The strong influence nucleic acids have over gene expression makes them prime candidates for therapeutics, but efficiently delivering them into cells requires overcoming the body's natural defenses, and targeting the cells in question. Polyelectrolyte complex micelles provide protection and a scaffold for attaching targeting molecules. The shape, size, stability, and structure of these micelles directly affect their transfection efficiencies and circulation times; control over these properties is of prime importance. Microscopies and scattering techniques allow us to probe these complexes inside and out. Deepening our understanding of the factors that control these properties can give us greater predictive power when designing targeted, nucleic acid-based therapeutics, and help us increase their efficacy in the body.