Eric J. Werner
Eric J. Werner
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
- 2002 B.S. in Chemistry with Highest Honors, University of Florida; Mentor: Professor Michael J. Scott
- 2007 Ph.D. in Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley; Mentor: Professor Kenneth N. Raymond
Research in Dr. Werner’s lab focuses on the synthesis of new inorganic molecules for biomedical assay and imaging applications. The compounds of interest contain lanthanide metal ions encapsulated by organic molecules which enable incorporation into biological systems. One project involves the study of compounds containing the gadolinium(III) ion (Gd3+) that show potential as novel contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The main focus of this project involves the synthesis and characterization of novel organic ligands and Gd3+ complexes, the study of the proton T1 relaxation rate enhancement, and assessment of thermodynamic chelate stability. Students working in this area perform much of the synthetic and preliminary research here at UT while also having the opportunity to conduct additional studies via established off-campus collaborations with some of the leading world experts in the area of imaging and MRI contrast agent development.
Adapted from: Runge, V. M. “Intraveneous Contrast Media” in Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Vol. 1; Partain, C. C., et al., Eds. W. B. Saunders Co.: Philadelphia, 1988, p 827.
In addition to the synthesis and study of Gd-based MRI probes, complexes of some of the other lanthanide ions (e.g. Eu3+ and Tb3+) are currently being evaluated with regard to their luminescent properties. Benefits of using lanthanides for luminescent imaging or sensing applications include their relatively long lifetimes, sharp emission bands and large Stokes shifts making these ions ideal as probes under biologically relevant conditions. This study focuses on the synthesis of novel macrocyclic lanthanide complexes as well as exploration of their unique luminescence properties. In addition to these fundamental studies, current collaborative extensions of the work involve the encapsulation of the small molecule chelates within silica-based nanoparticles. The combination of the unique photophysical properties of the lanthanides with the well-known chemistry and diverse applicability of silica nanoparticles may yield highly emissive materials for use in a variety of areas including biomedical imaging or assay work.
Solution of a Eu complex excited by UV light (left) and the same complex encapsulated by silica nanoparticles illuminated under identical conditions (right).
Undergraduate Research in My Lab
Undergraduate student Tavya Benjamin synthesizing a new macrocyclic Eu3+ complex for luminescent sensor applications.
Chemistry is a hands-on, experimental science. The time students spend in the classroom learning about chemistry is essential in providing necessary theory and background; it is in the research lab where students come full circle by putting this knowledge into action. In my lab, students are given the opportunity (and the great challenge) of conducting their own original research projects, applying what they have learned through their coursework as well as acquiring new knowledge and skills in a relevant area of modern chemical research. In carrying out the work noted above, students are involved in every aspect of the project: from the design of new molecules or novel assays to the final presentation and publication of the more promising results. Also, due to the interdisciplinary nature of the work, students are exposed to a variety of areas including inorganic and organic synthesis in preparing novel lanthanide complexes, analytical chemistry in performing various assays and through characterization of all new molecules synthesized, physical chemistry in rationalizing the magnetic and photophysical properties of the imaging agents and biomedical research in exploring potential applications. Beyond learning basic synthetic techniques, students routinely have full access to a number of sophisticated instruments on campus including NMR (300 MHz), FTIR, UV-Vis and fluorescence spectrometers.
If you are interested in learning more or would like to discuss research opportunities in Dr. Werner's lab, please contact him at email@example.com or stop by his office.
Recent off-campus presentations (undergraduate student coauthors' names are in bold type):Werner, E. J.; de Bettencourt-Dias, A.; Bowers, K. T. “Development of Luminescent Lanthanide Complexes Based on Tetraiminodiphenolate Macrocycles.” 87th Florida Annual Meeting and Exposition of The Florida Section of the American Chemical Society, May 2011, Palm Harbor, FL, USA.
Werner, E. J.; Duncan, A. K.; Gurley, M. M.; McBride, C. N. “Macrocyclic lanthanide complexes for luminescence applications.” 239th ACS National Meeting, March 2010, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Duncan, A. K.; McBride, C. N.; Werner, E. J. “Effects of Systematic Structural Variation on the Photophysical Properties of Macrocyclic Lanthanide Complexes.” 239th ACS National Meeting, March 2010, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Gurley, M. M.; Werner, E. J. “Development of Schiff Base/Phenolate Macrocyclic Gadolinium(III) Complexes as MRI Contrast Agents.” 239th ACS National Meeting, March 2010, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Smith, J. E.; Werner, E. J.; Makhinson, B.; Duncan, A. K.; Elam, A. R.; Reeves, K. M. “Bestowing Lanthanide Luminescence through Nanoencapsulation.” Pittcon Conference & Expo 2010, Orlando, FL, USA.
Werner, E. J.; Nguyen, T. M.; Payne, T. D. “Lanthanide Coordination Chemistry in the Undergraduate Research Laboratory: From Medicine to Materials.” 237th ACS National Meeting, March 2009, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.
Recent Publications (undergraduate student coauthors' names are in bold type): Makhinson, B.; Duncan, A. K.; Elam, A. R.; de Bettencourt-Dias, A.; Smith, J. E.; Werner, E. J. “Turning on Lanthanide Luminescence via Nanoencapsulation.” 2011, In preparation.
Werner, E. J.; Botta, M.; Aime, S.; Raymond, K. N. “Effect of a Mesitylene-Based Ligand Cap on the Relaxometric Properties of Hydroxypyridonate Gd(III) MRI Contrast Agents.” Contrast Media Mol. Imaging 2009, 4, 220-229.
Werner, E. J.; Kozhukh, J.; Botta, M.; Moore, E. G.; Avedano, S.; Aime, S.; Raymond, K. N. “1,2-Hydroxypyridonate/Terephthalamide Complexes of Gadolinium(III): Synthesis, Stability, Relaxivity, and Water Exchange Properties.” Inorg. Chem. 2009, 48, 277-286.
Werner, E. J.; Datta, A.; Jocher, C. J.; Raymond, K. N. “High-Relaxivity MRI Contrast Agents: Where Coordination Chemistry Meets Medical Imaging.” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2008, 47, 8568-8580.