Dr Zimei Wu

PhD (Otago, Drug delivery), MSc (Chinal Pharmaceutical University; Pharmacokinetics)


Dr. Wu’s research focuses on developing strategies for ‘tumour-targeted delivery’ of small anticancer molecules, especially using ‘smart’ liposomes (pH/redox sensitive). She also researches dermal/transdermal drug delivery. At Auckland, she has attracted $NZ 2 million research funding as Principal Investigator (or co-PI) including Marsden, MBIE, Cancer Society of NZ, Auckland Medical Research Foundation etc. Her publications (100 peer-reviewed articles and invited book chapters) can be also found at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Zimei_Wu

Dr Wu is the receipt of an NZ-China Scientist Exchange award from the Royal Society of New Zealand (2009). She is the Immediate Past President of the Controlled Release Society NZ Local Chapter (http://www.nzcrs.org.nz), and was a Global CRS Young Scientists Committee member.

Dr Wu is a referee for about 30 journals (Publons Top Reviewer, IJP Outstanding Reviewer) and an Editorial board member for journals: Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, Journal of Liposome Research and Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology. Within the University, Dr Wu serves on the Faculty International Committee with the aim of promoting, establishing and maintaining international relationships in research and teaching. She was honoured with a "Best Teacher" prize from her Pharmacy undergraduate students (2013).  

Research | Current

Research interests

  • Preformulation underpinning formulation design
  • Conventional formulation and novel drug delivery systems 
  • Liposomes and surface-functionalisation 
  • Injectable formulation of poorly water soluble drugs
  • Pharmacokinetics

Ongoing research projects

  • Small extracellular vesicles for tumour targeted drug delivery (AMRF)
  • Intra-cellular trafficking of nanomedicines (FRDF)
  • New strategy to overcome multidrug resistance in cancer (NZPERF)
  • Novel strategy to delivery hypoxia-activated prodrug to cancer cells (Marsden)   
  • Novel drug delivery systems to improve tissue tolerance for anticancer chemotherapy (MBIE).  

Teaching | Current

  • Pharmaceutical sciences (mainly to pharmacy undergraduate and postgraduate students ->10 courses): Pharmaceutics, Formulation and drug delivery, and Pharmacokinetics and modeling

Postgraduate supervision

Current postdocs 

  • Dr Sasi Bhushan Yarragudi
  • Dr Manju Kanamala (casual)

Previous postdocs 

  • Dr Wenli Zhang
  • Dr James Falconer

Current PhD Candidates  – as primary supervisor

  • Patrick Pan – On-demand release from liposomes (with Associate Professors Geoff Waterhouse/Darren Svirskis)
  • Yuki Gao - Functionalised nanoparticles for targeting breast cancer (with Professor Andrew Shelling)
  • Maran Muthiah - In vitro evaluation anticancer (nano)medicines (with Professor Andrew Shelling)
  • Tianjiao Geng - Small extracellular vesicles for drug delivery (with Professor Larry Chamley, Dr Euphemia Leung) 
  • Trusha Purohit - Improving drug bioavailability of paediatric suppositories (joint supervisor Dr Sara Hanning) 
  • Marvin Tang – Drug delivery strategy to overcome resistance to gemcitabine in pancreatic cancer (with Associate Professor Darren Svirskis, Dr Euphemia Leung)
  • Joy Reginald-Opara - Development of a novel drug delivery system for targeted brain delivery in neurodegenerative diseases (with Associate Professors Justin Dean and Darren Svirskis)

Current PhD Candidates – as co-supervisor

  • Mahima Bansal - A glutamate delivery system for neural stimulation (primary supervisor Associate Professor Darren Svirskis)
  • Kamal Patel (Primary supervisor Dr Viji Sarojini)
  • Saiful Azmi - Neuronal mimicry: Triggered glutamate release from a conducting polymer (primary supervisor Associate Professor Darren Svirskis)

Current Masters Candidates – as primary supervisor

  • Kara Yang  - Macrophage targeted delivery (with Associate Professor Alan Davidson)
  • Lina Lozano -  Improving cancer treatment (with Associate Professor Darren Svirskis)

Completed PhDs (as primary supervisor)

  • Dr Grant Cave - Drug scavenging liposomal nanoparticles for in vivo detoxification (with Professor Jamie Sleigh) (under examination)  
  • Dr Manju Kanamala - PEG-sheddable liposomes for cytoplasmic drug delivery to cancer (with Professor William (Bill) Wilson)
  • Dr Mimi Yang - Fusogenic pH sensitive liposomes for tumour-targeted intracellular deliver of anticancer drug (with Professor William (Bill) Wilson)
  • Dr Emma (Weirong) Kang -  Nano-carriers for drug targeting to  (with Dr Darren Svirskis)
  • Dr Hongtao Xu - pH-Sensitive Liposomes to Circumvent Gemcitabine-Resistance in Pancreatic Cancer (with Associate Professor James Paxton, Dr Yan Li)
  • Dr Travis Badenhorst - Dermal and cellular delivery of an endogenous peptide (with Dr Darren Svirskis)

Completed PhDs (as co-supervisor)

  • Dr Attia Sarfraz - Mechanism of phlebitis by iv infusion of asulacrine and protecting effect of liposomes (Joint supervision with Professor Guangji Wang, China Pharmaceutical University)
  • Dr Danhui Li - Transdermal delivery of catechin (Primary supervisor Dr Jingyuan Wen)
  • Dr Hamdy Abdelkader - Ocular drug delivery using niosomes (Primary supervisor Professor Raid Alany)
  • Dr Rohit Jain - A stable injectable delivery system for penethamate, a penicillin pro-drug (Primary supervisor Professor Ian Tucker, Otago)  

Completed Masters  

  • Abrar Alharbi - Analytical methods development to study mechanisms of drug resistance (as primary supervisor)
  • Patrick Pan - Stabilized vesicles for dermal delivery (as primary supervisor)
  • Xuelei Yin - Liposomes functionalized with rodox-responsive chotooligosaccharides for targeting bone cancer (as primary supervisor)
  • Yingying Chi -  Redox-sensitive and hyaluronic acid modified nanocarriers for cytoplasmic drug delivery to osteosarcoma (as primary supervisor)
  • Abeba Amare - Improving drug retention in liposomes (as primary supervisor)
  • Benjamin Koh – Macrophage-targeted liposomes for modulation of inflammation in zebrafish  (as primary supervisor) (with Dr Chris Hall)
  • Esther See  - Improving venous tolerance in cancer therapy using liposomes (as primary supervisor)
  • Tzesheng Wong - Polymeric micelles for anticancer drug delivery (as primary supervisor)
  • John Ren - Spreadability and drug release profile of novel injectable microemulsions (as primary supervisor)
  • (Dr) Young-A Heo - Solid lipid nanoparticles to improve tissue tolerance of chemotherapy (as primary supervisor)
  • Florence Hong - In vitro-in vivo correlations of intra-ruminal formulations (as primary supervisor)
  • Julia Newland - Delivery of liposomes to target astrocytes after spinal cord injury (primary supervisor Dr Simon O'Carroll)
  • Noor Tawfeek - Development of a polymeric mesh to provide analgesia following hernia repair  (primary supervisor Dr Darren Svirskis)
  • Barbara Angoro - Triggered release implant (primary supervisor Dr Darren Svirskis)
  • (Dr) Simone Jacobs - Ocular gel delivery system (primary supervisor Dr Ilva Rupenthal)
  • (Dr) Manju Kanamala - Bioanalytical Methods for Ketamine, its Metabolite, and Milrinone (primary supervisor Professor Sanjay Garg)


  • Honorary Professor, School of Pharmacy, Binzhou Medical University, China. since 2010  

  • Honorary Professor, School of Pharmacy, Yantai University, China. since 2013                

  • NZ-China Scientists Exchange Award from the Royal Society of New Zealand. 2009   

  • Technology for Industry Fellowship. NZFRST. 2002 -2005 (PhD research) 

  • Visiting Scholarship from China Pharmaceutical University, funded by University of Otago. 1999


Course Coordinator

  • Molecule to Market Symposium (Pharmacy undergraduate programme)
  • Pharmacy 761: Lab Based Project (Postgraduate, 15pt)
  • Pharmacy 750: Pharmaceutical Formulation (Postgraduate, 30pt)

Taught Courses

  • Pharmacy 111G | Pharmacy 212 | Pharmacy 213 | Pharmacy 311 | Pharmacy 410 | Pharmacy 411 (Undergraduate)
  • Pharmacy 750 | Pharmacy 751 | Pharmacy 754 | Pharmacy 760 | Pharmacy 761 | MEDSCI 745  (Postgraduate)

Areas of expertise

Drug Delivery

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Editorial Board: Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, Journal of Liposome Research and Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology.
  • Faculty International Committee  
  • Immediate Past President of Controlled Release Society New Zealand Local Chapter
  • School's Education Committee member (2010-2019)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)


Contact details

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 503 - Bldg 503
New Zealand

Web links