Xu, Zhi Ping (Gordon)

Xu, Zhi Ping (Gordon)


Institute of Biomedical Health Technology and Engineering ,Institute of Systems and Physical Biology

Senior Principal Investigator


  • 2022 - Present

    Shenzhen Bay Laboratory, Shenzhen, China         Senior Principal Investigator

  • 2017 - 2022

    Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, The University of Queensland         Professor,Senior Group Leader

  • 2012 - 2016

    Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, The University of Queensland         Associate Professor,Group Leader

  • 2008 - 2011

    Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, The University of Queensland         Senior Research Fellow

  • 2005 - 2007

    Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, The University of Queensland         Research Fellow

  • 2003 - 2004

    Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, The University of Queensland         Visiting Scholar

  • 2001 - 2003

    University of North Texas         Postdoctoral Researcher

  • 1998 - 2001

    National University of Singapore         PhD

  • 1995 - 1997

    National University of Singapore         MSc

  • 1988 - 1991

    University of Science and Technology of China         MSc

  • 1983 - 1988

    University of Science and Technology of China         BSc

Research Areas

Dr Xu’s research field has been focused on nanomaterials, nanobiotechnology, biomedicine and cancer therapy. He is one of the leading experts in the controlled preparation of anionic clay nanomaterials (hydrotalcite), and has done a lot of excellent investigations in biomedicine and plant protection. These include application of anionic clay nanomaterials to deliver drugs, genes and vaccines to animal and plant cells for synergistic functions, which provides useful means to protect the health of plants, animals and human beings. His research focuses in Shen Zhen Bay Laboratory include:

1.Multi-functional inorganic nanomaterials targeting the therapy of tumors, cardiovascular diseases and bone diseases;

2.Developing new therapy for combination cancer treatment using inorganic nanocarriers;

3.Cancer immunotherapy based on T cells activated with inorganic nanomaterials;

4.Effects of metal ions in inorganic nanomaterials on the immune system.


Professor Xu is a world-renowned scientist in nanobiotechnology and nanomedicine and one pioneering expert in the controlled preparation of clay nanomaterials (hydrotalcite, layered double hydroxide). He has developed several multifunctional nanoplatforms based on clay nanoparticles to effectively deliver drugs, genes and vaccines in vitro and in vivo for combination treatments of cancerous, infectious and cardiovascular diseases. He has published over 350 papers and book chapters, with the citation over 19,600 times and the H-index of 76 until the end of 2022. His research has been funded with over A$30 million together with his collaborators. He has filed 4 international patents, one of which has been transferred to an UK company for further developing Clay-non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) nanohybrids with the bitterness masked and side effects on the stomach and intestine minimized. The other patent is being now transferred to a listed pesticide company to develop BioClay systems as efficient gene-pesticide spray for crop protection against viruses and pests and increase the crop yield, without any damages to the ecosystem. These two products will generate huge benefits in economy and community.  

Four representative achievements are as follows:

1. Preparation of homogeneous suspensions of clay nanoparticles with the controlled particle size.

Prof Xu has developed a reliable yet simple approach to precisely control the clay particles with the average size in 20-2000 nm that are homogeneously dispersed as stable suspensions. This approach has been patented, and widely employed by many researchers to develop LDH nanoparticles as an efficient drug/gene/protein delivery system.

2. First discovery of clay nanoparticle being able to effectively deliver protein-based vaccines and elucidation of the mechanism

Prof Xu has found that clay nanoparticles are able to efficiently load protein-based vaccines. The subcutaneously injected nanovaccines durably promote the high level of specific antibodies, which effectively inhibit the proliferation of bacteria and the growth of tumor tissues. Further investigations have shown that clay nanoparticles stimulate the immune cells as nano-adjuvants and that nanovaccines form a much looser nodulus upon subcutaneous injection, which facilitates the recruitment of immune cells and the subsequent uptake of nanovaccines, generating long-term immune responses.

3. Development of novel combinations of cancer therapies based on clay nanoparticles

Prof Xu’s group has innovatively developed several clay-based nanoplatforms for the combination cancer therapy. These nanoplatforms have been demonstrated to be applied in several new cancer combination therapies, such as photothermo-chemo, photothermo-geno, light-driven gaso-chemo, ultrasound-driven gaso-chemo, and photo-immuno combination therapies. Combining two or more modules has significantly enhanced the treatment efficacy, reduced the therapeutic dose and promoted the long-term anti-cancer immunity. 

4. First innovation to use clay nanoparticle as vehicles to topically deliver dsRNA for crop protection against viruses and pests 

Prof Xu and his collaborators have for the first time demonstrated that sprayed clay nanoparticles carry and sustainably release dsRNA on the leaf surface to generate a long term (20-30 days) protection of plants from virus attack, in comparison with the short term (5-7 days) protection if naked dsRNA is sprayed in the same conditions. This breakthrough technology enables the clay-dsRNA nanohybrids into commercial products for efficient crop protection, which has been now under intensive investigations to develop the products by optimizing preparation conditions, scaling up production, enhancing the shelf stability and conducting glasshouse and field trials.  


• 2017    The University of Queensland Vice-Chancellor Senior Research Fellowship

• 2013    Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowship

• 2008    ARC Australian Research Fellowship 

• 2009    The University of Queensland Foundation Research Excellence Award

• 2006    The University of Queensland Res/Teach Fellowship

• 2005    ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship

• 2005    Publication Excellence Award, ARC Centre for Functional Nanomaterials, The University of Queensland

• 2004    Early Career Symposium Fellowship, the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering of Australia

Selected Publications

1. Zhang, LX; Jia, YB; Yang, JJ; Zhang, L; Hou, SJ; Niu, XY; Zhu, J; Huang, YR; Sun, XY; Xu, ZP; Liu, RT: “Efficient Immunotherapy of Drug-Free Layered Double Hydroxide Nanoparticles via Neutralizing Excess Acid and Blocking Tumor Cell Autophagy”. ACS Nano16, 12036-12048, 2022.

2. Li, B; Hao, GY; Sun, B; Gu, Z; Xu, ZP: “Engineering a Therapy‐Induced “Immunogenic Cancer Cell Death” Amplifier to Boost Systemic Tumor Elimination”. Adv. Funct. Mater. 30, 1909745, 2020.

3. Sun, LY; Wang, JJ; Liu, JP; Li, L; Xu, ZP: “Creating structural defects of drug-free copper-containing layered double hydroxide nanoparticles to synergize photothermal/photodynamic/chemodynamic cancer therapy”. Small Struct. 2, 2000112, 2020.

4. Zhang, LX; Sun, XM; Jia, YB; Liu, XG; Dong, MD; Xu, ZP; Liu, RT: “Nanovaccine's Rapid Induction of Anti-tumor Immunity Significantly Improves Malignant Cancer Immunotherapy”. Nano Today 35, 100923, 2020.

5. Li, B; Gu, Z; Kurniawan, N; Chen, WY; Xu ZP: “Manganese-based Layered Double Hydroxide Nanoparticle as a T1-MRI Contrast Agent with Ultrasensitive pH Response and High Relaxivity”. Adv. Mater. 29, 201700373, 2017.

6. Mitter, N; Worrall, EA; Robinson, K; Li, P; Jain, RG; Taochy, C; Fletcher, SJ; Carroll, BJ; Lu, GQ; Xu, ZP: “Clay nanosheets for stable delivery of RNA interference as a topical application to protect plants against viruses”. Nature Plants3, 16207, 2017.

7. Liang XW; Wang HL,Grice JE; Li L; Liu X; Xu ZP; Roberts MS: “A Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic Model for Long-circulating Inorganic Nanoparticles”. Nano Letters16, 939-945, 2016.

8. Ladewig, K; Niebert, M; Xu, ZP; Gray, P; Lu, GQ Max: “Transporting Silence with Inorganic Nanoparticles”. Biomaterials 31, 1821-1829, 2010.    

9. Xu, ZP; Niebert, M; Porazik, K; Walker, TL; Cooper, HM; Middelberg, APJ; Gray, PP; Bartlett, PF; Lu, GQM: "Subcellular Compartment Targeting of Layered Double Hydroxide Nanoparticles". J Control Release. 130, 86-94, 2008.

10. Xu, ZP; Stevenson, G; Lu, CQ; Lu, GQ Max; Bartlett, PF; Gray, PP: “Stable suspension of layered double hydroxide nanoparticles in aqueous solution”. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 128, 36-37, 2006.