Professor Francisco M. Goycoolea

Professor Francisco M. Goycoolea


I received my PhD from Cranfield University, UK. I have worked as a research scientist at CIAD, Mexico, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, and University of Müsnter, Germany. Since 2016, he has been a full professor for Biopolymers at University of Leeds, UK.

My field of scientific expertise is in Biopolymer Science and Food Nanobiotechnology. My focus of interest in the last years has been on soft nanostructured biomaterials derived from natural polymers, namely polysaccharides and proteins (e.g., hydrogels, polyelectrolyte complexes, colloidal micro- and nanoparticles). The self-assembly processes underpinning the structure of these systems at the molecular and supramolecular scales can be used as a blueprint for the rational design of novel functional, ""smart"" food materials. I am particularly interested in elucidating the mechanisms of interaction of these materials with mammalian and bacterial cells and on their influence on critical processes known to operate in physical and communication life networks (e.g., mucosa, epithelia, biofilms). This understanding underpins the rational design of novel systems for food and health applications.


  • Leader of Food Chemistry and Biochemistry Group

Research interests

More specifically, our areas of interest include:

  • Structure-function relationships that determine the biophysical and biological properties of biopolymer-based soft material (namely, core-shell nano- and microparticles, gels, etc.) and their interactions in vitro with biological barriers and biological networks (namely, mucosa, epithelia, bacterial biofilms).
  • Loading of natural bioactive payloads into biopolymer-based materials, intending to modifying their biological and sensory profile (e.g., mouthfeel, flavour release, pungency), and enhance their oral bioavailability and thus their health/therapeutic benefits. Bioactive compounds of interest include both, low molecular weight phytochemicals (e.g. flavonoids, capsaicinoids, flavours) and non-Lipinsky biologicals (like peptides, proteins, nucleic acids and enzymes).
  • Microfabrication technologies (e.g., microfluidics) that enable novel ways of producing and studying the interactions between food materials and cells and bacteria in 3-D single-cell culture that recreate their natural microenvironment.
  • Top-down and bottom-up approaches to the development of innovative functional food products for the vegetarian and vegan niche market.
  • Development of antibiotic-free therapies against bacterial pathogen relevant to food, aquaculture and health. We pursue two approaches in this direction. One is to disrupt quorum sensing (QS) processes of pathogenic bacteria and thus exert control on their virulence responses (e.g., biofilm formation) using biopolymer-based nanoparticles. The other one involves specific polysaccharides as bioactive components of emulsions that exhibit antiadhesion activity against bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori or uropathogenic E. coli (Menchicchi et al. Curr. Pharm. Design 21(33): 4888-4906 These strategies seek novel routes to deal with antimicrobial resistance by ""superbugs"".
  • Surface-modification of nanomaterials by functionalization with recombinant proteins or aptamers. This approach is sought as a strategy to confer labelling and targeting properties to different types of nanosystems that enable to image them in mammalian cells by using confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) (Fuenzalida et al. 2014, Biomacromolecules 15: 2532-2539.
  • In silico simulations of nanomaterial behaviour and other critical phenomena in living systems. Agent-based models are currently developed to simulate the bacterial quorum sensing response and the interaction between bacteria and nanoparticles (Vila-Sanjurjo et al. 2016 biorXiv Qin et al. Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces.149, 358-368.
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Professional memberships

  • European Chitin Society
  • Iberoamerican Chitin Society
  • Royal Society of Chemistry
  • American Chemical Society

Research groups and institutes

  • Food Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Novel Food Design and Processing
  • Functional Biopolymers for Food and Health
  • Food safety, food security and global health
  • Food Colloids and Soft Matter at Interfaces
  • Digestion and Delivery

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>