Dr Maria Chiara Arno

Dr Maria Chiara Arno

School of Chemistry
Birmingham Fellow
Lecturer in Polymeric Biomaterials

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Maria Chiara Arno (Chiara) is a Birmingham Fellow, working across the School of Chemistry and the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences.

With a background in polymer chemistry and nanoparticle design, Dr Arno’s research interests span across a diverse range of disciplines, including Polymer Chemistry, Materials Science, and Life Sciences. Her current research is focussed on the development of novel cell-based therapies and materials. A particular focus is on the development of cell engineering technologies with polymeric materials that find application as cancer therapeutics and cell-based materials.  If you would like to know more of the lab research and opportunities to join, please visit arnolab.

Dr Arno is also a part of the Birmingham Plastics Network, an interdisciplinary team of more than 40 academics working together to shape the fate and sustainable future of plastics.  This unique team brings together chemists, environmental scientists, engineers, philosophers, linguists, economists, artists, writers, lawyers, and experts in many other fields, to holistically address the global plastics problem.


  • PhD in Pharmaceutical Chemistry, 2015
  • MSc in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology, 2011


Dr Arno studied Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology at the University of Padova (Italy) from 2006 to 2011. She undertook her final year project at King’s College London, sponsored by an Erasmus scholarship, on the development of fluorescent therapeutic peptides.

She then moved to the UK in 2012 to take up a PhD in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at King’s College London under the supervision of Prof. Robert Hider and Dr Sukhi Bansal. Her doctoral work focused on the development of peptide-like drugs for the treatment of pathologies linked to a dysregulation in iron metabolism.

Dr Arno was awarded her PhD in 2015, and then took up a Research Fellow position at the University of Warwick, investigating the biological interactions of polymeric nanoparticles and 3D scaffolds in vitro and in vivo with Prof. Andrew Dove. In 2018, the group moved to the University of Birmingham and she took up a Group Leader role in the Dove group, leading the Biomaterials research strand.

Dr Arno was appointed as a Birmingham Fellow in July 2020.

Postgraduate supervision

Please contact Dr Arno directly if you are interested in postgraduate opportunities.


Research Themes

  • Mammalian cell and yeast engineering
  • Functional polymers
  • Bioorthogonal chemistry
  • Cancer metastasis
  • In vivo tumour detection
  • Cell-based materials


Recent publications


Weems, A, Perez Madrigal, MDM, Arno, MC & Dove, A 2020, '3D printing for the clinic: examining contemporary polymeric biomaterials and their clinical utility', Biomacromolecules, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 1037-1059. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.biomac.9b01539

Worch, JC, Weems, AC, Yu, J, Arno, MC, Wilks, TR, Huckstepp, RTR, O'Reilly, RK, Becker, ML & Dove, AP 2020, 'Elastomeric polyamide biomaterials with stereochemically tuneable mechanical properties and shape memory', Nature Communications, vol. 11, no. 1, 3250. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-16945-8

Arno, MC 2020, 'Engineering the Mammalian Cell Surface with Synthetic Polymers: Strategies and Applications', Macromolecular Rapid Communications, vol. 41, no. 18, 2000302. https://doi.org/10.1002/marc.v41.18

Arno, MC, Inam, M, Weems, A, Li, Z, Binch, A, Platt, CI, Richardson, SM, Hoyland, JA, Dove, A & O'Reilly, R 2020, 'Exploiting the role of nanoparticle shape in enhancing hydrogel adhesive and mechanical properties', Nature Communications, vol. 11, 1420. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-15206-y

Xie, Y, Arno, MC, Husband, JT, Torrent-Sucarrat, M & O'Reilly, RK 2020, 'Manipulating the fluorescence lifetime at the sub-cellular scale via photo-switchable barcoding', Nature Communications, vol. 11, no. 1, 2460. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-16297-3

Dove, A, Bexis, P, De Winter, J, Arno, MC & Coulembier, O 2020, 'Organocatalytic Synthesis of Alkyne‐Functional Aliphatic Polycarbonates via Ring‐Opening Polymerization of an Eight‐Membered‐N‐Cyclic Carbonate', Macromolecular Rapid Communications. https://doi.org/10.1002/marc.202000378

Perez Madrigal, MDM, Shaw, JE, Arno, MC, Hoyland, JA, Richardson, SM & Dove, A 2020, 'Robust alginate/hyaluronic acid thiol-yne click-hydrogel scaffolds with superior mechanical performance and stability for load-bearing soft tissue engineering', Biomaterials Science, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 405-412. https://doi.org/10.1039/C9BM01494B

Hua, Z, Jones, JR, Thomas, M, Arno, MC, Souslov, A, Wilks, T & O'Reilly, R 2019, 'Anisotropic polymer nanoparticles with controlled dimensions from the morphological transformation of isotropic seeds', Nature Communications, vol. 10, 5406, pp. 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-13263-6

Garmendia, S, Lawrenson, S, Arno, MC, O'Reilly, R, Taton, D & Dove, A 2019, 'Catalytically active N-heterocyclic carbene release from single-chain nanoparticles following a thermolysis-driven Unfolding Strategy', Macromolecular Rapid Communications, vol. 40, no. 15, 1900071, pp. 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1002/marc.201900071

Blackman, LD, Varlas, S, Arno, MC, Houston, ZH, Fletcher, NL, Thurecht, KJ, Hasan, M, Gibson, MI & O'Reilly, RK 2018, 'Confinement of Therapeutic Enzymes in Selectively Permeable Polymer Vesicles by Polymerization-Induced Self-Assembly (PISA) Reduces Antibody Binding and Proteolytic Susceptibility', ACS Central Science, vol. 4, no. 6, pp. 718-723. https://doi.org/10.1021/acscentsci.8b00168

Arno, MC, Williams, RJ, Bexis, P, Pitto-Barry, A, Kirby, N, Dove, AP & O'Reilly, RK 2018, 'Exploiting topology-directed nanoparticle disassembly for triggered drug delivery', Biomaterials, vol. 180, pp. 184-192. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biomaterials.2018.07.019

Macdougall, L, Perez Madrigal, MDM, Arno, MC & Dove, A 2018, 'Nonswelling thiol-yne crosslinked hydrogel materials as cytocompatible soft tissue scaffolds', Biomacromolecules, vol. 19, no. 5, pp. 1378-1388. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.biomac.7b01204

Arno, MC, Brannigan, RP, Policastro, GM, Becker, ML & Dove, AP 2018, 'PH-Responsive, Functionalizable Spyrocyclic Polycarbonate: A Versatile Platform for Biocompatible Nanoparticles', Biomacromolecules, vol. 19, no. 8, pp. 3427-3434. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.biomac.8b00744

Couturaud, B, Georgiou, PG, Varlas, S, Jones, JR, Arno, MC, Foster, JC & O'Reilly, RK 2018, 'Poly(Pentafluorophenyl Methacrylate)-Based Nano-Objects Developed by Photo-PISA as Scaffolds for Post-Polymerization Functionalization', Macromolecular Rapid Communications, pp. e1800460. https://doi.org/10.1002/marc.201800460

Inam, M, Jones, JR, Perez-Madrigal, MM, Arno, MC, Dove, AP & O'Reilly, RK 2017, 'Controlling the size of two-dimensional polymer platelets for water-in-water emulsifiers', ACS Central Science, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 63-70. https://doi.org/10.1021/acscentsci.7b00436

View all publications in research portal