Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Jianfeng Cai, Ph.D.

Committee Member

James Leahy, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Shengqian Ma, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Chen Yu, Ph.D.


Antimicrobial polymers, Dendrimers, Amphiphilic, Unimolecular micelles, Host defense Peptide


Bacterial infections have posed a serious threat to the public health due to the significant rise of the infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. There has been considerable interest in the development of antimicrobial agents which mimic the natural HDPs, and among them biodegradable polymers are newly discovered drug candidates with ease of synthesis and low manufacture cost compared to synthetic host defense peptides. Herein, we present the synthesis of biocompatible and biodegradable polymers including polycarbonate polymers, unimolecular micelle hyperbranched polymers and dendrimers that mimic the antibacterial mechanism of HDPs by compromising bacterial cell membranes. The developed amphiphilic polycarbonates are highly selective to Gram-positive bacteria, including multidrug-resistant pathogens and the unimolecular micelle hyperbranched polymers showed promising broad-spectrum activity. However, lipidated amphiphilic dendrimers with low molecular weight display potent and selective antimicrobial activity against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, including multidrug-resistant strains. In addition to antibacterial activity against planktonic bacteria, these dendrimers were also shown to inhibit bacterial biofilms effectively. These class of polymers may lead to a useful generation of antibiotic agents with practical applications.