Professor Francisco M. Goycoolea

Professor Francisco M. Goycoolea


Received PhD from Cranfield University, UK. Has worked as an indpependent research scientist at CIAD, Mexico, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, and University of Müsnter, Germany. Since 2016, has been appointed a full professor (Chair in Biopolymers) at the School of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Leeds, UK.

The field of scientific expertise is Biopolymer Science. The focus of research has been on soft nanostructured biomaterials derived from natural polymers, namely polysaccharides, proteins, and nucleic acids (e.g., hydrogels, polyelectrolyte complexes, micro- and nanoparticles, nanofibres). The self-assembly processes underpinning the structure of these systems at the molecular and supramolecular scales can be used for the rational design of novel sustainable foods, food packaging materials, and biomaterials (medical devices). Other areas include elucidating the mechanisms of interaction of these materials with mammalian and bacterial cells and their interfaces and gleaning an understanding of critical processes underpinning physical, genetic, ionic, and communication networks (e.g., mucosa, epithelia, biofilms) that underpin their phenotypic transitions. This understanding is geared towards the rational design of novel formulations for functional food, precise nutrition, 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 physiological context.
  • Top-down and bottom-up approaches to the development of innovative sustainable functional foods.
  • Development of antibiotic-free therapies against bacterial pathogens relevant to food, aquaculture and health. We pursue several approaches: i) Disruption of cell-to-cell bacterial communication via quorum sensing (QS) processes of pathogenic bacteria and thus exert control on their virulence responses (e.g., biofilm formation) using biopolymer-based nanoparticles; ii) Identification of specific polysaccharides as bioactive components of emulsions that exhibit antiadhesion activity against specific bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori or uropathogenic E. coli (Menchicchi et al. Curr. Pharm. Design 21(33): 4888-4906; iii) Formulation of liposomes and chitosomes loaded with antimicrobial peptides with specific activities against pathogens such as Porphyromonas gingivalis; iv) Nanocomplexes of chitosan and DNA self-assembled nanostructures comprising antisense oligonucleotides against antimicrobial resistant bacteria. These strategies seek to identify innovative routes to deal with antimicrobial resistance.
  • 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.
  • Development of aptamer-based biosensors to detect food mycotoxins (Miron-Merida et al. 2021 Biosensors 2021, 11, 18.
<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>


  • BSc Chemistry-Pharmacy-Biology. Universidad La Salle/UNAM, Mexico
  • MSc Food Science. University of Reading, UK
  • PhD Plant Polysaccharides. Cranfield University, UK

Professional memberships

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

Student education

Course Modules Taught at School of Food Science and Nutrition, BSc and MSc Food Science and Nutrition

FOOD3330/FOOD5280 "Functional Foods"- Courses 2018-present
Module Coordinator – Average 120 students

FOOD1220 “Cell and Molecular Biology” Course 2017
Lecture "Principles of Life"
Lecture "Carbohydrates"

FOOD1210 "Physicochemical Properties of Food" – Course 2017
Lecture “Rheology I”
Lecture “Rheology II”

FOOD5241 "Structure and Function of Food Components":
Lecture “Starch I” Course 2017
Lecture “Starch II” Course 2017
Lecture “Cellulose derivatives I and II” – Courses 2017-present

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>