Dr Mohamed Elsawy

Job: Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Sciences

Faculty: Health and Life Sciences

School/department: Leicester School of Pharmacy

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: N/A

E: mohamed.elsawy@dmu.ac.uk


Personal profile

Mohamed Elsawy is a Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Leicester School of Pharmacy and the team leader of the Peptide BioNanomaterials Group (PBNG). Mohamed gained his PhD from School of Pharmacy at Queen’s University of Belfast in 2012 supervised by Prof Brian Walker. His PhD project focused on the design and synthesis of modified peptide analogues and peptidomimetics for targeting key protein-protein complexes implicated in cancer resistance towards intrinsic apoptosis.

Following his PhD, he was awarded a short-term postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Bordeaux, France, hosted in Prof Ivan Huc group. During his first postdoc, Mohamed developed new solid phase peptide synthesis (SPPS) strategies for the synthesis of aliphatic/aromatic oligoamide foldamers with helical conformations.

In 2014, he started a EPSRC funded postdoctoral training in the Polymers & Peptides Research Group (led by Prof Alberto Saiani & Prof Aline Miller), at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, University of Manchester. In Manchester, Mohamed worked on the design and development of self-assembling β-sheet forming peptide nanofibers for the fabrication of hydrogels as vehicles for controlled drug delivery and as 3D scaffolds for stem cells.

In 2017, he was appointed Lectureship in Pharmaceutics at the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Central Lancashire, where he started the PBNG. In 2020, Mohamed moved with PBNG to Leicester School of Pharmacy upon his appointment as a Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Sciences. Mohamed has published numerous articles in top journals in his field (Chemistry of Materials, Biomacromolecules, Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry, Langmuir, Journal of Tissue Engineering…etc.) and presented in many national and international conferences.

He has supervised postgraduate research projects including PhD, MRes and MSc as well as undergraduate research projects. He also acted as a peer-reviewer for various journals and grant applications including UK Research Council funds and European funds.

Research group affiliations

Leicester Institute of Pharmaceutical Innovation for Integrated Care (LIPIIC)

Key research outputs


Research interests/expertise

Molecular self-assembly has been exploited in Nature to develop the complex higher macromolecular structures of both the genome and proteome. Mohamed’s research interests focus on understanding the fundamentals behind peptide self-assembly into bio-inspired nanostructures for the design of novel stable, responsive and functional bionanomaterials with various pharmaceutical, biomedical and biotechnological applications.

The main advantage of these systems is the physicochemical tunability and versatility of the formed nanostructures by simply playing with the composition of the amino acid building blocks of the primary peptide sequence. In addition, these peptide-based systems are biocompatible, biodegradable, non-toxic and non-immunogenic and thus are safe for use in pharmaceuticals and for tissue engineering applications. Inspired by the baker’s yeast Z-DNA binding protein unique motif EAK16, Mohamed developed ultra-short ionic self-complementary constrained peptides (4-5 amino acid long) that self-assemble into thermodynamically stable β-sheet nanofibres triggered by pH alteration of the peptide aqueous solution.

These nanofibers were manipulated to fabricate shear-thinning hydrogels, microcapsules and nanoparticles. Currently, the interfacial activity of those self-assembled structures is being studied with the potential applications as emulsifiers and as stabilising agents in biopharmaceuticals. Another recent area of interest is developing self-assembled peptide microcapsules for the encapsulation of stem cells as safe vehicles for cell therapy application. Material properties of the developed peptide hydrogels are being adapted to develop inks for 3D bioprinting for tissue engineering and for 3D printing of solid dosage forms for personalised medicine applications. The innovation of various therapeutic hydrogels is currently investigated with particular interest in antimicrobial hydrogels for combating antimicrobial resistance as well as anticancer hydrogels for the localised therapy of solid tumours.

Areas of teaching

  • Pharmaceutics


  • PhD Pharmacy (Medicinal Chemistry), 2012, School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University of Belfast
  • Graduate Diploma (Pharmaceutical Chemistry), 2007, Faculty of Pharmacy, Cairo University 
  • BPharmSc, 2004, Faculty of Pharmacy, Cairo University

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry (MRSC)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
  • Member of the Brain Tumor North West (BTNW) Network
  • Member of the Manchester Biomaterials Society (ManBioMat)
  • Member of the United Kingdom Society of Biomaterials (UKSB)
  • Member of the European Society of Biomaterials (ESB)
  • Member of the Egyptian Pharmacists Syndicate (Registered Pharmacist)

Current research students

Current Research Students:

  • Abdulwahhab Khedr (PhD, 1st supervisor)
  • Mohamed Soliman (PhD, 1st supervisor)
  • Rhema Luke Patrick (Visiting MRes, 2nd supervisor)

Previous Research Students (completed):

  • Afaf Abouzid (PhD, 2nd supervisor)
  • Ronak Patel (MSc, 1st supervisor)
  • Dhelal Mohammed (MSc, 1st supervisor)

Externally funded research grants information

  • Newton Fund (Royal Society) (PI, £156K)
  • Mission’s Sector Egyptian Fund (PI, £150K)