Dr Renee Goreham

Dr Renee Goreham


School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences (Physics)

Medical research breakthroughs start small

Dr Renee Goreham’s interdisciplinary research into natural nanomaterials holds the promise of exciting medical breakthroughs in the areas of drug delivery, disease diagnosis and treatment.

Renee Goreham smiling inside a building, wearing a black top with brown hair pulled back

Dr Renee Goreham works at the intersection of biology and nanotechnology. Her collaborative research focuses on the synthesis, characterisation and applications of nanomaterials—extremely tiny chemical substances that can be manufactured and used at small scale for a range of purposes, including novel forms of medical diagnosis and treatments.

Renee’s current work explores the exciting possibilities of custom-designed nanomaterials to target or label cells. She is most interested in nature’s own nanoparticles, called extracellular vesicles, and has been exploring how these natural materials can be used for earlier diagnosis and more effective drug delivery.

“Most living cells release nanosized extracellular vesicles and this area has exploded because of their applications in novel disease diagnosis and biocompatible drug delivery vehicles. My research uses extracellular vesicles for drug delivery by loading them with functional nanoparticles or capturing and detecting them for disease diagnosis.

“If new modes of treatment, detection and diagnosis can be developed, this would not only help patients and their families through difficult times, but also increase the health economy by decreasing hospital stays.”

More than meets the eye

Renee works with nanomaterials ranging in size from one to 100 nanometres. To put this in perspective, a sheet of newspaper is about 100,000 nanometres thick. At this incredibly minuscule scale, Renee explains that nanomaterials exhibit unusual characteristics when compared with the same material on a larger scale.

“I like everything small—more accurately, nanosized! Nanoparticles behave differently compared to bulk material. For example, imagine a lump of gold. Unlike this bulk gold, which does not react easily, nanosized spherical particles of gold form a ruby red solution, are reactive and have a potential use in disease treatment.”

Renee is exploring how a type of nanoparticle, called quantum dots, can be used for biomedical imaging. Quantum dots have been shown to help detect chemical and biological processes and agents, which allows for the identification of biomarkers like proteins and nucleic acids that play a vital role in the early detection of cancers and other diseases.

“I use quantum dot nanoparticles in my research that are fluorescent, due to their small size. Quantum dots are also used in Quantum dot Light Emitting Diode (QLED) TVs, but my research uses them to tag biological processes or for detection of entities, such as extracellular vesicles.”

A strong career trajectory

Renee recognises and champions the need for strong, cross-disciplinary research partnerships to achieve the best results. Her research collaborations stretch across the globe, from Australia to New Zealand and Germany, and she has plans to build these collaborations further over the coming years.

“Getting a team together across all areas of science is crucial to developing world-class research.  I always strive to work in teams with an array of expertise and a like-mindedness in the way we perform research. Building each other up and developing a cohesive network is important to me.”

For Renee, prioritising collaboration over competition means also making time to mentor the next generation, and “paying forward” the support she has received from role models throughout her career.

“I have had great role models and mentors who were pivotal to my success. In the same way, I am passionate about supporting other young researchers. I believe in helping and mentoring others.”

This naturally curious researcher is just getting started in her career and has no plans to slow down. In collaboration with some of the brightest minds at the University of Newcastle and around the globe, Renee hopes to continue advancing medical outcomes by delivering even greater research insights in the near future.

“I want to become a world-renowned researcher in the area of nanotechnology, which means continuing to build my research group over the coming years and producing high-class research in my field. I have an addiction to research—discovering the unknown is my biggest driver!—and I’m proud of how much I’ve achieved already.”

Medical research breakthroughs start small

Dr Renee Goreham’s interdisciplinary research into natural nanomaterials holds the promise of exciting medical breakthroughs in the areas of drug delivery, disease diagnosis and treatment.

Read more

Career Summary


Renee Goreham completed a PhD in 2014 at the University of South Australia on the topic of NanoBiotechnology. Since completion, she has held post-doctoral positions at Flinders University, University of South Australian, and Victoria University of Wellington. She accepted a permanent lecturing position at Victoria University of Wellington in 2018, before moving to the University of Newcastle in 2019. Her expertise is in nanoparticle synthesis, characterisation and applications in biomedical systems.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of South Australia


  • Nanoparticles
  • Nanotechnology


  • English (Mother)

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Lecturer University of Newcastle
School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Lecturer University of Newcastle
School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/3/2018 - 1/3/2019 Lecturer Victoria University of Wellington
New Zealand


For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Book (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2019 Goreham RV, Preface to volume 3 (2019)
DOI 10.1016/B978-0-12-812295-2.09083-8

Chapter (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2019 Goreham RV, Ayed Z, Ayupova D, Dobhal G, 'Extracellular vesicles: Nature s own nanoparticles', Comprehensive Nanoscience and Nanotechnology 27-48 (2019)

Biological systems often feature natural, functional nanomaterials, including hemoglobin¿s (6.5 nm), antibodies (12 nm), viruses (such as parvoviruses (18-26 nm), rhinovirus (30 n... [more]

Biological systems often feature natural, functional nanomaterials, including hemoglobin¿s (6.5 nm), antibodies (12 nm), viruses (such as parvoviruses (18-26 nm), rhinovirus (30 nm)), hepatitis (45 nm) and bacteria (such as Pelagibacter Ubique (0.37-0.89 µm)). These natural nanoscale materials and organisms have not only inspired the design of some nanomaterials but also promoted the research on the world of nanotechnology. During this article we will introduce interesting biological sphered nano-sized liposomes called extracellular vesicles. About 40 years ago, it was discovered that all cells release diverse types of membrane vesicles into the extracellular environment. Initially, it was thought that extracellular vesicles were simply artefacts or trash compartments discarded by cells. It is now known that they play a vital role in cell function and cell-to-cell or cell-to-host communication, immune signaling, differentiation, and have applications in the detection of many human diseases such as cancer, AIDS, neurodegenerative disorders and in the synthesis of some vaccines. Since their discovery, extracellular vesicles are attracting considerable interest in the scientific community. Hence, many diverse names have been used to refer to these vesicles including ectosomes, microparticles, microvesicles but the more general term used is extracellular vesicles. Mammalian extracellular vesicles can be classified into exosomes, microvesicles and apoptotic bodies depending on their size and biogenesis. On the other hand, bacterial extracellular vesicles are less studied compared to the mammalian extracellular vesicles. In Gram-negative bacteria, they are referred to as outer-membrane vesicles since they are produced by the pinching off the outer membrane. However, in Gram-positive bacteria, despite the fact that they lack an outer membrane, it was proven that they also produce vesicles which are referred to as membrane vesicles. During this article we will focus on the biogenesis, role and applications of mammalian and bacterial derived extracellular vesicles. Also, particular focus on the methods of isolation and subsequent characterization methods will be reviewed.

DOI 10.1016/B978-0-12-803581-8.10412-6
Citations Scopus - 3

Journal article (21 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2021 Malhotra S, Amin ZM, Dobhal G, Cottam S, Nann T, Goreham RV, 'Novel devices for isolation and detection of bacterial and mammalian extracellular vesicles.', Mikrochim Acta, 188 139 (2021) [C1]
DOI 10.1007/s00604-021-04790-5
Co-authors Thomas Nann
2020 Goreham RV, Ayed Z, Amin ZM, Dobhal G, 'The future of quantum dot fluorescent labelling of extracellular vesicles for biomedical applications', Nano Futures, 4 (2020) [C1]
DOI 10.1088/2399-1984/ab8bca
Citations Scopus - 1
2020 Dobhal G, Datta A, Ayupova D, Teesdale-Spittle P, Goreham RV, 'Isolation, characterisation and detection of breath-derived extracellular vesicles', Scientific Reports, 10 (2020) [C1]
DOI 10.1038/s41598-020-73243-5
Citations Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1
2019 Slattery AD, Blanch AJ, Shearer CJ, Stapleton AJ, Goreham RV, Harmer SL, et al., 'Characterisation of the material and mechanical properties of atomic force microscope cantilevers with a plan-view trapezoidal geometry', Applied Sciences, 9 (2019) [C1]
DOI 10.3390/app9132604
Citations Scopus - 2Web of Science - 3
2019 Ayupova D, Dobhal G, Laufersky G, Nann T, Goreham RV, 'An In Vitro Investigation of Cytotoxic Effects of InP/Zns Quantum Dots with Different Surface Chemistries.', Nanomaterials, 9 (2019) [C1]
DOI 10.3390/nano9020135
Citations Scopus - 11Web of Science - 11
Co-authors Thomas Nann
2019 Ayed Z, Cuvillier L, Dobhal G, Goreham R, 'Electroporation of outer membrane vesicles derived from Pseudomonas aeruginosa with gold nanoparticles', SN APPLIED SCIENCES, 1 (2019) [C1]
DOI 10.1007/s42452-019-1646-2
Citations Scopus - 2Web of Science - 2
2019 Schroeder KL, Goreham RV, Nann T, 'Glucose Sensor Using Redox Active Oligonucleotide-Templated Silver Nanoclusters.', Nanomaterials, 9 (2019) [C1]
DOI 10.3390/nano9081065
Citations Scopus - 2Web of Science - 3
Co-authors Thomas Nann
2018 Goreham RV, Schroeder KL, Holmes A, Bradley SJ, Nann T, 'Demonstration of the lack of cytotoxicity of unmodified and folic acid modified graphene oxide quantum dots, and their application to fluorescence lifetime imaging of HaCaT cells', MICROCHIMICA ACTA, 185 (2018)
DOI 10.1007/s00604-018-2679-8
Citations Scopus - 25Web of Science - 21
Co-authors Thomas Nann
2018 Dobhal G, Ayupova D, Laufersky G, Ayed Z, Nann T, Goreham RV, 'Cadmium-Free Quantum Dots as Fluorescent Labels for Exosomes', SENSORS, 18 (2018)
DOI 10.3390/s18103308
Citations Scopus - 8Web of Science - 9
Co-authors Thomas Nann
2018 Gomez CDLT, Goreham RV, Serra JJB, Nann T, Kussmann M, '"Exosomics"-A Review of Biophysics, Biology and Biochemistry of Exosomes With a Focus on Human Breast Milk', FRONTIERS IN GENETICS, 9 (2018)
DOI 10.3389/fgene.2018.00092
Citations Scopus - 73Web of Science - 65
Co-authors Thomas Nann
2017 Bradley SJ, Kroon R, Laufersky G, Roding M, Goreham RV, Gschneidtner T, et al., 'Heterogeneity in the fluorescence of graphene and graphene oxide quantum dots', MICROCHIMICA ACTA, 184 871-878 (2017)
DOI 10.1007/s00604-017-2075-9
Citations Scopus - 24Web of Science - 22
Co-authors Thomas Nann
2016 Schroeder KL, Goreham RV, Nann T, 'Graphene Quantum Dots for Theranostics and Bioimaging', PHARMACEUTICAL RESEARCH, 33 2337-2357 (2016)
DOI 10.1007/s11095-016-1937-x
Citations Scopus - 76Web of Science - 66
Co-authors Thomas Nann
2015 Goreham RV, Thompson VC, Samura Y, Gibson CT, Shapter JG, Koeper I, 'Interaction of Silver Nanoparticles with Tethered Bilayer Lipid Membranes', LANGMUIR, 31 5868-5874 (2015)
DOI 10.1021/acs.langmuir.5b00586
Citations Scopus - 21Web of Science - 18
2014 Delalat B, Goreham RV, Vasilev K, Harding FJ, Voelcker NH, 'Subtle Changes in Surface Chemistry Affect Embryoid Body Cell Differentiation: Lessons Learnt from Surface-Bound Amine Density Gradients', TISSUE ENGINEERING PART A, 20 1715-1725 (2014)
DOI 10.1089/ten.tea.2013.0350
Citations Scopus - 7Web of Science - 6
2013 Goreham RV, Mierczynsk A, Smith LE, Sedev R, Vasilev K, 'Small surface nanotopography encourages fibroblast and osteoblast cell adhesion', RSC ADVANCES, 3 10309-10317 (2013)
DOI 10.1039/c3ra23193c
Citations Scopus - 46Web of Science - 46
2013 Harding F, Goreham R, Short R, Vasilev K, Voelcker NH, 'Surface bound amine functional group density influences embryonic stem cell maintenance', Advanced Healthcare Materials, 2 585-590 (2013)

Gradient surfaces are highly effective tools to screen and optimize cell- surface interactions. Here, the response of embryonic stem (ES) cell colonies to plasma polymer gradient ... [more]

Gradient surfaces are highly effective tools to screen and optimize cell- surface interactions. Here, the response of embryonic stem (ES) cell colonies to plasma polymer gradient surfaces is investigated. Surface chemistry ranged from pure allylamine (AA) plasma polymer on one end of the gradient to pure octadiene (OD) plasma polymer on the other end. Optimal surface chemistry conditions for retention of pluripotency were identified. Expression of the stem cell markers alkaline phosphatase (AP) and Oct4 varied with the position of the ES cell colonies across the OD-AA plasma polymer gradient. Both markers were more strongly retained on the OD plasma polymer rich regions of the gradients. The observed variation of expression across the plasma polymer gradient increased with duration of stem cell culture. While maximum cell adhesion to the gradient substrate occurred at a nitrogen- to-carbon (N/C ratio) of approximately 0.1, Oct4 and AP expression was best retained at an N/C ratio < 0.04. Stem cell marker expression correlated with colony size and morphology: more compact, multilayered colonies with prominent F-actin staining arose as the N/C ratio decreased. Disruption of actin polymerization using Y-27632 ROCK inhibitor resulted in a collapse of the multilayer colony structure into monolayers with limited cell-cell contact. A corresponding decrease in expression of AP and Oct4 was observed. Oct4 expression along with 3D colony morphology was partially rescued on the OD plasma polymer rich regions of the gradient. © 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

DOI 10.1002/adhm.201200119
Citations Scopus - 17Web of Science - 16
2012 Mierczynska A, Michelmore A, Tripathi A, Goreham RV, Sedev R, Vasilev K, 'pH-tunable gradients of wettability and surface potential', SOFT MATTER, 8 8399-8404 (2012)
DOI 10.1039/c2sm25221j
Citations Scopus - 49Web of Science - 48
2012 Lawn MA, Goreham RV, Herrmann J, Jaemting K, 'Particle number density gradient samples for nanoparticle metrology with atomic force microscopy', JOURNAL OF MICRO-NANOLITHOGRAPHY MEMS AND MOEMS, 11 (2012)
DOI 10.1117/1.JMM.11.1.011007
Citations Scopus - 5Web of Science - 5
2011 Michelmore A, Mierczynska A, Poh Z, Goreham RV, Losic D, Short RD, Vasilev K, 'Versatile gradients of chemistry, bound ligands and nanoparticles on alumina nanopore arrays', NANOTECHNOLOGY, 22 (2011)
DOI 10.1088/0957-4484/22/41/415601
Citations Scopus - 10Web of Science - 10
2011 Goreham RV, Short RD, Vasilev K, 'Method for the Generation of Surface-Bound Nanoparticle Density Gradients', JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY C, 115 3429-3433 (2011)
DOI 10.1021/jp111221g
Citations Scopus - 46Web of Science - 45
2010 Vasilev K, Sah VR, Goreham RV, Ndi C, Short RD, Griesser HJ, 'Antibacterial surfaces by adsorptive binding of polyvinyl-sulphonate-stabilized silver nanoparticles', NANOTECHNOLOGY, 21 (2010)
DOI 10.1088/0957-4484/21/21/215102
Citations Scopus - 66Web of Science - 62
Show 18 more journal articles

Conference (2 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2013 Goreham RV, Mierczynska A, Pierce M, Short RD, Taheri S, Bachhuka A, et al., 'A substrate independent approach for generation of surface gradients', THIN SOLID FILMS (2013)
DOI 10.1016/j.tsf.2012.04.087
Citations Scopus - 41Web of Science - 41
2011 Lawn MA, Goreham RV, Herrmann J, Jaemting AK, 'Particle number density gradient samples for nanoparticle metrology with atomic force microscopy', SCANNING MICROSCOPIES 2011: ADVANCED MICROSCOPY TECHNOLOGIES FOR DEFENSE, HOMELAND SECURITY, FORENSIC, LIFE, ENVIRONMENTAL, AND INDUSTRIAL SCIENCES, Orlando, FL (2011)
DOI 10.1117/12.884566
Citations Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1

Research Supervision

Number of supervisions


Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2020 PhD Biophysical properties of extracellular vesicles Physics, Faculty of Science | University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor
2020 PhD The detection of E. Coli in water Physics, Faculty of Science | University of Newcastle | Australia Principal Supervisor
2019 PhD Exploring the Avenues of Renewable Energy Storage: Redox Flow Batteries PhD (Physics), College of Engineering, Science and Environment, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
2019 PhD Explore and Develop Novel Approaches for Detection of Oxidative Stress Associated with Alzheimer's Disease (AD) PhD (Physics), College of Engineering, Science and Environment, The University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor
2019 PhD Detection platform for disease by targeting extracellular vesicles Physics, Faculty of Science | University of Newcastle | Australia Principal Supervisor
2019 PhD Next Generation Aluminium Ion Batteries PhD (Physics), College of Engineering, Science and Environment, The University of Newcastle Consultant Supervisor

Past Supervision

Year Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2019 PhD Aminophosphine Reduction Mechanisms and the Synthesis of Indium Phosphide Nanomaterials
<div class="page" style="font-family:-webkit-standard;" title="Page 5"><div class="layoutArea"><div class="column"><p><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:URWPalladioL;">Indium phosphide (InP) nanomaterials stand poised to be adapted into a num- ber of high-value technological applications due to their well-placed band gap en- ergies. The quantum confinement of these semiconductors can give rise to size- dependent absorption and emission features spanning a large portion of the use- ful electromagnetic spectrum. InP materials can be employed as non-toxic blue- to red-emitting fluorophores that can be implemented in high value avenues such as biological probes, lighting applications, and lasing technologies. However, large scale development of these quantum dots (QD) has been stymied by the lack of af- fordable and safe phosphorus precursors. Syntheses have largely been restricted to the use of dangerous chemicals such as tris(trimethylsilyl)phosphine ((TSM)</span><span style="font-size:8pt;font-family:CMR8;vertical-align:-2pt;">3</span><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:URWPalladioL;">P), which is costly and highly sensitive to oxygen and water. Recently, less-hazardous tris(dialkylamino)phosphines have been introduced to produce InP QDs on par with those utilizing (TMS</span><span style="font-size:8pt;font-family:CMR8;vertical-align:-2pt;">3</span><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:URWPalladioL;">)P. However, a poor understanding of the reaction mechanics has resulted in difficulties tuning and optimizing this method.</span></p><p><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:URWPalladioL;">In this work, density functional theory (DFT) is used to identify the mechanism of this aminophosphine precursor conversion. This understanding is then imple- mented to design an improved InP QD synthesis, allowing for the production of high-quality materials outside of glovebox conditions. Time is spent understanding the impact of different precursor salts on the reaction mechanisms and discerning their subsequent effects on nanoparticle size and quality. The motivation of this work is to formulate safer and less technical indium phosphide quantum dot syn- theses to foster non-specialist and industrial implementation of these materials.</span></p></div></div></div>
Chem Sc Not Elsewhere Classifd, Victoria University of Wellington Co-Supervisor
2018 Masters Targeting exosomes with InP/ZnS quantum dots Chem Sc Not Elsewhere Classifd, Victoria University of Wellington Principal Supervisor
2018 Masters Quantum dot bioconjugates for the detection of extracellular vesicles in saliva and breath
&lt;p style="margin:0cm 0cm 0.0001pt -42.55pt;font-size:medium;font-family:'Times New Roman', serif;line-height:24px;"&gt;Nano-sized extracellular vesicles are released by most types of cells. They contain information about the cell they originate from and have been shown to be involved in a variety of cellular processes as well as diseases. However, their detection and characterisation has been challenging and non-standardised, which makes comparisons across literature very challenging. While exosomes are known to exist in complex biological fluids such as saliva, breast milk, blood, and urine, their separation and identification from these media are time-consuming. Many researchers use techniques such as transmission electron microscopy for physical characterization and western blot for protein identification, which are often not available in medical settings. Additionally, while these fluids can be easily obtained, acquiring similar samples from lung environments is a highly invasive procedure. While breath is&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p style="margin:0cm 0cm 0.0001pt -42.55pt;font-size:medium;font-family:'Times New Roman', serif;line-height:24px;"&gt;known to transmit droplets from the lungs, the presence of exosomes in these condensates&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p style="margin:0cm 0cm 0.0001pt -42.55pt;font-size:medium;font-family:'Times New Roman', serif;line-height:24px;"&gt;is unknown. In this project, functionalised InP/ZnS quantum dots were used to target exosomes from a number of biological sources and provide a gateway to more fully characterise their ensemble properties. The InP/ZnS quantum dots were synthesised, and their size dependency on the band gap was investigated in accordance with the theoretical effective mass approximation model for quantum dots. The QDs were produced with hydrophobic oleylamine ligands, and therefore had to be ligand exchanged to be used in biological applications. A range of ligand exchange methods was surveyed to probe the best balance between retention&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p style="margin:0cm 0cm 0.0001pt -42.55pt;font-size:medium;font-family:'Times New Roman', serif;line-height:24px;"&gt;of original quantum yields and best colloidal stability in aqueous systems. The QDs were further conjugated to an antibody specific for CD63, the protein found on exosomes. The conjugation was confirmed using dynamic light scattering and surface plasmon resonance. Finally, the binding of the QD-Antibody probe to the exosome was confirmed using SPR and&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p style="margin:0cm 0cm 0.0001pt -42.55pt;font-size:medium;font-family:'Times New Roman', serif;line-height:24px;"&gt;confocal microscopy. Further modifications of the assay system could lead to multiplex-detection of the different proteins on the exosomes, their characterisation, and a method for the rapid detection of diseases.&lt;/p&gt;
Chem Sc Not Elsewhere Classifd, Viclink (Victoria University of Wellington) Principal Supervisor


Unique Women in STEMM scholarship program supports Early Career Researchers

May 19, 2020

In a first for an Australian university to help redress some of the systemic biases female academics face, the University of Newcastle has awarded fully-funded PhD candidate scholarships to six Women in STEMM Early Career Researchers.

Dr Renee Goreham


School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
College of Engineering, Science and Environment

Focus area


Contact Details

Email renee.goreham@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4913 8252
Mobile 0408867066


Room P111
Building Physics Building
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308