- Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program | Cassandra L. Fraser

Cassandra L. Fraser


  • BA, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, MI
  • MTS, Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA
  • PhD, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
  • Postdoc, California Institute of Technology

Primary Appointment

  • Professor, Chemistry


Research Interest(s)

Polymeric Metal Complexes. Metallobiomaterials for Medicine and Biotechnology. Bio-inspired and Sustainable Design. Responsive Nanoscale Assemblies.

Research Description

Our research program is concerned with the synthesis, properties and applications of metal complexes with polymeric ligands. These multifunctional targets are prepared by combining coordination chemistry with living polymerization methodologies. Like metalloproteins, polymeric metal complexes feature site-isolated metal centers with responsive properties, and offer many opportunities for further modification. The metal center can lend color, luminescence, magnetism, and reactivity. As materials, these systems can function as soluble agents, nanoparticles, films and coatings, or bulk materials, and block copolymers can form higher order nanoscale assemblies. In recent years, we have directed our attention to biomaterials—namely polymers used in biology and medicine and materials that are safe for the environment. Along with fundamental studies in metallopolymer synthesis and properties, we also explore uses for biocompatible and degradable polymers as optical imaging agents, oxygen sensors, and drug delivery systems in biomedicine and sustainable design.

Selected Publications

  • DeRosa C, Samonina-Kosicka J, Fan Z, Hendargo H, Weitzel D, Palmer G, Fraser C. Oxygen Sensing Difluoroboron Dinaphthoylmethane Polylactide. Macromolecules. 2015;48(9): 2967-2977. PMID: 26056421 | PMCID: PMC4457464
  • Bowers D, Tanes M, Das A, Lin Y, Keane N, Neal R, Ogle M, Brayman K, Fraser C, Botchwey E. Spatiotemporal oxygen sensing using dual emissive boron dye-polylactide nanofibers. ACS nano. 2014;8(12): 12080-91. PMID: 25426706 | PMCID: PMC4278692
  • Xu S, Evans R, Liu T, Zhang G, Demas J, Trindle C, Fraser C. Aromatic difluoroboron β-diketonate complexes: effects of π-conjugation and media on optical properties. Inorganic chemistry. 2013;52(7): 3597-610. PMID: 23510181 | PMCID: PMC3664511
  • Payne S, Zhang G, Demas J, Fraser C, Degraff B. Laser phosphoroscope and applications to room-temperature phosphorescence. Applied spectroscopy. 2011;65(11): 1321-4. PMID: 22054093
  • Contreras J, Xie J, Chen Y, Pei H, Zhang G, Fraser C, Hamm-Alvarez S. Intracellular uptake and trafficking of difluoroboron dibenzoylmethane-polylactide nanoparticles in HeLa cells. ACS nano. 2010;4(5): 2735-47. PMID: 20420413 | PMCID: PMC2948672
  • Kersey F, Zhang G, Palmer G, Dewhirst M, Fraser C. Stereocomplexed poly(lactic acid)-poly(ethylene glycol) nanoparticles with dual-emissive boron dyes for tumor accumulation. ACS nano. 2010;4(9): 4989-96. PMID: 20704337 | PMCID: PMC2955982
  • Payne S, Fiore G, Fraser C, Demas J. Luminescence oxygen sensor based on a ruthenium(II) star polymer complex. Analytical chemistry. 2010;82(3): 917-21. PMID: 20050641
  • Zhang G, Lu J, Sabat M, Fraser C. Polymorphism and reversible mechanochromic luminescence for solid-state difluoroboron avobenzone. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 2010;132(7): 2160-2. PMID: 20108897
  • Zhang G, Xu S, Zestos A, Evans R, Lu J, Fraser C. An easy method to monitor lactide polymerization with a boron fluorescent probe. ACS applied materials & interfaces. 2010;2(11): 3069-74. PMID: 20942431
  • Zhang G, Kim S, Evans R, Kim B, Demas J, Fraser C. Luminescent donor-acceptor beta-diketones: modulation of emission by solvent polarity and group II metal binding. Journal of fluorescence. 2009;19(5): 881-9. PMID: 19399595
  • Zhang G, Palmer G, Dewhirst M, Fraser C. A dual-emissive-materials design concept enables tumour hypoxia imaging. Nature materials. 2009;8(9): 747-51. PMID: 19668206 | PMCID: PMC2846459
  • Pfister A, Zhang G, Zareno J, Horwitz A, Fraser C. Boron polylactide nanoparticles exhibiting fluorescence and phosphorescence in aqueous medium. ACS nano. 2008;2(6): 1252-8. PMID: 19081748 | PMCID: PMC2600552
  • Fiore G, Edwards J, Payne S, Klinkenberg J, Gioeli D, Demas J, Fraser C. Ruthenium(II) tris(bipyridine)-centered poly(ethylenimine) for gene delivery. Biomacromolecules. 2007;8(9): 2829-35. PMID: 17663530
  • Zhang G, Chen J, Payne S, Kooi S, Demas J, Fraser C. Multi-emissive difluoroboron dibenzoylmethane polylactide exhibiting intense fluorescence and oxygen-sensitive room-temperature phosphorescence. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 2007;129(29): 8942-3. PMID: 17608480