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Dr Mateus Webba Da Silva


School of Pharm. & Pharmaceut. Sc.
Research Institute
Biomedical Sciences Research Institute
Coleraine campus
Room Y027
Cromore Road
Co. Londonderry
BT52 1SA
+44 28 7012 4009
Profile image of Dr Mateus Webba Da Silva

Mateus Webba de Silva was educated in chemistry in Angola, Portugal and England, he moved to the UC Davis in 1996 as a postdoctoral fellow. After a stint at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Duke University he accepted a faculty position at Ulster University in 2005.

Research interests

The major focus of research in this laboratory is the design and synthesis of new molecular and material entities utilizing nucleic acids. By applying novel chemical principles at the molecular level, exciting new molecules and molecular assemblies are created which possess unique biological, mechanical, sensory, electronic and optical properties.

His vision ultimately combines the science and engineering of man-made and biological entities, controlled at the sub-nanometer scale. This is a new way approach to the construction of complex materials and devices by exquisite control over the functionality and assembly of matter. Such building blocks consist of anywhere from a few hundred to millions of atoms which can be assembled into complex, engineered structures able to interact with their surroundings at dimensions ranging from that of molecules to that of humans and beyond.

Current programs of study include the following topics.

Tissue specific delivery of plasmids
The most common form of gene therapy involves intracellular delivery of DNA that encodes a functional therapeutic gene to specific sites of action. Although the science presents us with fantastic opportunities, delivery of the coding DNA is its biggest problem. In this program he is developing methodology to fold functional DNA plasmids for tissue-specific delivery. Currently this work includes the efforts of PhD candidate Tafadzwa Charidza-Wylie.

G-Wires for Nanophotonics
The current project includes the controlled self-assembly and modulation of light absorption and emission properties of nanowires comprised of G-quadruplex DNA. Quantum confinement in the four-stranded DNA wire has demonstrated unique and unexpected properties. Nanowires of this type represent the smallest dimension for efficient transport of optoelectronic entities, due to their density of electronic states, and are therefore expected to be useful in nano(opto)electronics. Currently this work includes the efforts of PhD candidate Christopher O’Kane.

Four-stranded nucleic acid architectures known as G-quadruplexes represent a novel molecular class of therapeutics with structure-specific recognition similar to protein-based monoclonal anti-bodies, and no known side effects. Mateus have been developing a molecular diversity library of G-quadruplexes for use as therapeutics such as drugs, drug carriers and sensors. Currently this work includes the efforts of PhD candidate Scarlett Dvorkin.


Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

The Royal Society (London)

The British Council, (Treaty of Windsor Programme)

The British Council (IAESTE)

Department of Education & Learning Northern Ireland.

Research publications

Showing 1 to 10 of 31 publications
To view all publications please visit Ulster University Institutional Repository (UIR)