Associate Professor 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 New Zealand, Auckland Medical Research Foundation etc. Her publications can be also found at:

Dr Wu is the receipt of a New Zealand -China Scientist Exchange award from the Royal Society of New Zealand (2009). She is the Immediate Past President of the Controlled Release Society New Zealand Local Chapter (, and was a Global CRS Young Scientists Committee member. Dr Wu serves on Editorial board for journals: Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, Journal of Liposome Research, Biomaterials Science, and Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology, and is a referee for >30 journals (Publons Top Reviewer, IJP Outstanding Reviewer). 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

  • Conventional formulation and novel drug delivery systems 
  • Liposomes and functionalisation for targeted drug delivery and clinical applications   
  • Injectable formulation of poorly water soluble drugs
  • Preformulation
  • Pharmacokinetics and pharmaceutical analysis

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 Marvin Tang
  • Dr Manju Kanamala (casual)

Previous postdocs 

  • Dr Sasi Bhushan Yarragudi |Dr Hongtao Xu | 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) 
  • 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)
  • John Duodu - Triggered release formulations (Primary supervisor Dr Viji Sarojini)
  • Ernest Cheah - The development of sustained and tuneable drug delivery systems for neurotrophic growth factors (with Associate Professor Darren Svirskis)

Current Masters Candidates – as primary supervisor

  • Dan Fang - Targeted delivery for cancer  - (Dual Masters with SUTCM China)
  • Lina Lozano -  Improving cancer treatment  

Completed PhDs (as primary supervisor)

  • Marvin Tang -  Drug delivery strategy to overcome resistance to gemcitabine in pancreatic cancer
  • Dr Grant Cave - Drug scavenging liposomal nanoparticles for in vivo detoxification  
  • 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 Kang -  Peptide-Assisted Brain Delivery of Boron Neutron Capture Therapy
  • Dr Hongtao Xu - pH-Sensitive Liposomes to Circumvent Gemcitabine-Resistance in Pancreatic Cancer  
  • Dr Travis Badenhorst - Dermal and cellular delivery of an endogenous peptide  

Completed PhDs (as co-supervisor)

  • Dr Kamal Patel - Design, synthesis and biological evaluation of peptide aldehydes (Primary supervisor Dr. Viji Sarojini)
  • 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   (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  

  • Kara Yang |Abrar Alharbi |Patrick Pan |Xuelei Yin |Yingying Chi |Abeba Amare |Benjamin Koh |Esther See |Tzesheng Wong |John Ren | Young-A Heo | Florence Hong |Julia Newland (with Dr Simon O'Carroll |Noor Tawfeek (with Dr Darren Svirskis) |Barbara Angoro  (With Dr Darren Svirskis) | Simone Jacobs (with Dr Ilva Rupenthal) |(Dr) Manju Kanamala (with Prof 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 750: Pharmaceutical Formulation (Postgraduate, 30pt)
  • Pharmacy 752: Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance (Postgraduate, 15pt)
  • Pharmacy 761: Lab Based Project (Postgraduate, 15pt)

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; Biomaterials Science; Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology.
  • Faculty International Committee  
  • Immediate Past President of Controlled Release Society New Zealand Local Chapter
  • School's Education/ Research Committee
  • NZ Association of Breast Cancer Research 

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Jin, Y., Wu, Z., Wu, C., Zi, Y., Chu, X., Liu, J., & Zhang, W. (2020). Size-adaptable and ligand (biotin)-sheddable nanocarriers equipped with avidin scavenging technology for deep tumor penetration and reduced toxicity. Journal of controlled release : official journal of the Controlled Release Society, 320, 142-158. 10.1016/j.jconrel.2020.01.040
  • Linnerz, T., Kanamala, M., Astin, J. W., Dalbeth, N., Wu, Z., & Hall, C. J. (2020). Targeting Drugs to Larval Zebrafish Macrophages by Injecting Drug-Loaded Liposomes. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE (156).10.3791/60198
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Nicola Dalbeth, Jonathan Astin, Christopher Hall
  • Gao, Y., Tang, M., Leung, E., Svirskis, D., Shelling, A., & Wu, Z. (2020). Dual or multiple drug loaded nanoparticles to target breast cancer stem cells. RSC Advances, 10 (32), 19089-19105. 10.1039/d0ra02801k
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Euphemia Leung, Darren Svirskis, Andrew Shelling
  • Patel, K. D., De Zoysa, G. H., Kanamala, M., Patel, K., Pilkington, L. I., Barker, D., ... Sarojini, V. (2020). Novel Cell-Penetrating Peptide Conjugated Proteasome Inhibitors: Anticancer and Antifungal Investigations. Journal of medicinal chemistry, 63 (1), 334-348. 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.9b01694
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Lisa Pilkington, David Barker, Viji Sarojini, Gayan De Zoysa
  • Purohit, T. J., Wu, Z., & Hanning, S. M. (2020). Simple and reliable extraction and a validated high performance liquid chromatographic assay for quantification of amoxicillin from plasma. Journal of chromatography. A, 161110.1016/j.chroma.2019.460611
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Sara Hanning, Trusha Purohit
  • Kanamala, M., Palmer, B. D., Jamieson, S. M., Wilson, W. R., & Wu, Z. (2019). Dual pH-sensitive liposomes with low pH-triggered sheddable PEG for enhanced tumor-targeted drug delivery. Nanomedicine (London, England), 14 (15), 1971-1989. 10.2217/nnm-2018-0510
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Stephen Jamieson, Brian Palmer
  • Reginald-Opara, J. N., Svirskis, D., O'Carroll SJ, Sreebhavan, S., Dean, J. M., & Wu, Z. (2019). Optimisation of glutathione conjugation to liposomes quantified with a validated HPLC assay. International journal of pharmaceutics, 56710.1016/j.ijpharm.2019.118451
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Simon OCarroll, Darren Svirskis, Justin Dean
  • Tang, M., Svirskis, D., Leung, E., Kanamala, M., Wang, H., & Wu, Z. (2019). Can intracellular drug delivery using hyaluronic acid functionalised pH-sensitive liposomes overcome gemcitabine resistance in pancreatic cancer?. Journal of controlled release : official journal of the Controlled Release Society, 305, 89-100. 10.1016/j.jconrel.2019.05.018
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Darren Svirskis, Euphemia Leung, Marvin Tang


Contact details

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 503 - Bldg 503
Level 3, Room 301C
New Zealand

Web links