UCL School of Pharmacy


Dr Gareth Williams

Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutics

Tel: 020 7753 5868


Research interests

  • Nanoscale polymer-based fibres for drug delivery and in tissue engineering.
  • Inorganic nanomaterials and their applications in drug delivery, as vaccine additives to enhance immunogenicity, and magnetic resonance imaging.
  • The application of in situ synchrotron diffraction and combined techniques to study pharmaceutical transformations.

Teaching interests

Current teaching on the MPharm:

  • Project supervisor for 4th year internal and Erasmus project students.
  • Lecturer on “Making safe and effective medicines” (1st year), "Medicines from the bench to the clinic" (2nd year), and “Biopharmaceuticals and biosimilars” (4th year).

Current teaching on the MSc in Pharmaceutics and MSc in Pharmaceutical Formulation & Entrepreneurship:

  • Module leader and lecturer for “Analysis and quality control”.
  • Lecturer on “Preformulation”, “Pharmaceutical Biotechnology”, and “Nanomedicines”.
  • MSc project supervision.

Current collaborations and partnerships

  • Vaccine adjuvant development: Prof Dermot O’Hare, Prof Jon Austyn (University of Oxford); Prof Bart Lambrecht (Ghent University).
  • Polymer-based and solid state inorganic drug delivery systems: Prof Li-Min Zhu (Donghua University); Prof Deng-Guang Yu (University of Shanghai for Science and Technology); Prof Dermot O’Hare (University of Oxford); Prof Xue Duan, Prof David Evans, Prof Min Wei, Prof Xiaodong Lei (Beijing University of Chemical Technology); Prof Dongpeng Yan (Beijing Normal University); Dr Nick Chatterton (Open University).
  • Tissue engineering of the right heart outflow tract: Member of “TEH-Tube” FP7-funded consortium with Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris, Celyad, Statice SAS, Rescoll, Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, and Euram Ltd. Link: http://teh-tube.eu/
  • Understanding and controlling physical form in pharmaceutical materials: Prof Simon Gaisford, Dr Christoph Salzmann, Prof Jawwad Darr, Dr Dewi Lewis (UCL); Dr Yue Wu (University of Cambridge); Dr Colin Seaton, Dr Richard Telford (University of Bradford); Dr Tasnim Munshi, Prof Ian Scowen (University of Lincoln); Dr Tim Prior (University of Hull).


  • MChem Hons Chemistry, 1st, University of Oxford 2002
  • DPhil in Materials Chemistry, University of Oxford, 2005
  • PG Cert in Learning & Teaching in Higher Education, London Metropolitan University, 2011

Dr Gareth Williams


Room 323
UCL School of Pharmacy
29-39 Brunswick Square


  • Senior Lecturer
    UCL School of Pharmacy

Joined UCL


Nanoscale polymer-based drug delivery systems
To be effective, a medicine must be delivered to the right part of the body, at the right time, and in the correct amount. We use prepare polymer-based nanofibres or nanoparticles loaded with drug molecules, exploiting the properties of the polymer and the advantageous properties which can be realised when working at the nanoscale to control drug release. Fibres are prepared by electrospinning, in which a solution containing a polymer and a functional component is sprayed from a syringe towards a target collector with a high voltage applied between the two. Particles are prepared using a similar process termed electrospraying. The resulting materials generally contain the drug molecules randomly distributed throughout the polymer, and thus can increase the solubility and dissolution rate of poorly water soluble drugs. The polymer/drug composites can also be used to prepare extended or delayed release systems; such formulations can obviate the need to take frequent doses of medicines (making a patient's life easier) and help maintain drug levels at safe yet efficacious levels in the body. Electrospun/sprayed formulations may further be exploited to drive "bottom-up" self-assembly processes. We are investigating the use of these materials for the treatment of a range of disease conditions, for instance in photo-chemo-therapy for cancer.

Inorganic nanoparticles
A wide range of solid-state materials exists in which there is vacant space: it is often possible to fill this with a 'guest' species. We are using this chemistry to develop advanced nanomaterials for drug delivery. Work is focussed on layered metal hydroxides with positively charged layers and charge-balancing anions located between them. A wide range of bioactive molecules can form anions and be incorporated into the interlayer region to give extended-release systems.

Vaccine adjuvants
The most effective vaccines contain a living antigen: this leads to a robust immune response, but there is a risk that the antigen could regain virulence and become dangerous. For safety reasons, modern vaccines increasing use subunits of the pathogen as antigens. To stimulate an immune response to these, "adjuvants" are added to kick-start the immune system. Most commonly, "alum" (usually aluminium oxyhydroxide; AlOOH) is used as the adjuvant. Alum provokes strong antibody-mediated immunity against bacterial toxins, but cannot stimulate the cellular immune response required to eliminate virally infected cells or cancers. We are developing alternative inorganic vaccine adjuvants to drive different and/or more powerful immune responses, and have recently patented significant developments in this area.

Analytical techniques
Combining synchrotron X-ray diffraction (XRD) with thermal analysis techniques gives unprecedented insight into phase transitions in pharmaceutical materials. The use of synchrotron radiation permits diffraction patterns to be collected in a few seconds, meaning that we can very rapidly observe changes in the nature of the solid materials present and correlate these with the heat signals simultaneously being monitored by calorimetry. Recently we have used this approach to study the stabilisation of a metastable polymorph of paracetamol and identify the presence of multiple phases in a commercial sample of sulfathiazole.

Gareth received a MChem (Hons) degree from the University of Oxford in 2002. He remained in Oxford working with Prof Dermot O’Hare for a DPhil (PhD) in materials chemistry, which was completed in 2005. Gareth then spent three years working in science programme management for the UK government, before returning to Oxford to take up a post-doctoral position in 2009. In September 2010 he joined London Metropolitan University as a Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Science, and in November 2012 was appointed to the UCL School of Pharmacy as a Lecturer in Pharmaceutics. In October 2013 he took over running the department's pharmaceutics-based MSc programmes, and in October 2016 was promoted to Senior Lecturer.

Gareth is a regular reviewer for a number of journals including Chem. Mater., Nanoscale, Small, Mol. Pharm., ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., J. Solid State Chem., J. Mater. Chem., Angew. Chem., Int. J. Pharm., J. Pharm. Sci., Cryst. Growth Des., and J. Phys. Chem. He is a member of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences New Scientists Focus Group, and has previously served as the Younger Members’ representative for the Royal Society of Chemistry Chiltern and Middlesex Section Trust Committee.