Center for Biophysics and Quantitative Biology

Hyun Joon Kong


Design of bioinspired materials, design of synthetic extracellular matrix; engineering of stem cell niches, FRET analysis of cell-ECM interaction; FRET analysis of biomolecular interaction; vascular/bone tissue engineering

Research Interests

Research Description

Tissue engineering has been emerging as a new therapeutic strategy aimed toward understanding the principles of tissue development and translating this fundamental knowledge into clinical restoration, repair, maintenance, and even improvement of tissue and whole organ function. This innovative strategy has been performed by combining new regenerative medicines including protein, DNA, cells, and engineered biomaterials. In this application, biomaterials have been mainly designed as a mechanical and biochemical scaffold to protect the loaded regenerative medicines from both exterior mechanical deformation and an immunologic response. Recently, the ability of biomaterials to mimic an extracellular matrix, regulating the functions of its loaded elements by recapitulating biological signaling, has become more important to current research efforts. In this context, our research will focus on 1. molecular, nano-, and micro-scale design of bio-inspired materials to reproduce structure and function of natural extracellular matrices, 2. engineering cellular niches to regulate the growth, lineage, and death of stem and progenitor cells using these materials, 3. development of novel tools to analyze the cross-talk between cell and engineered extracellular matrices, and 4. application of biologically engineered analogs of therapeutic molecules, cells, and biomaterials for various stem cell-based tissue engineering, including both the regeneration of functional tissue and destruction of pathologic tissue. Through this research, we will pioneer innovative strategies for designing in vitro cell culture conditions and in vivo cell transplantation devices to be utilized in various tissue engineering and cell-based therapies.


B.S., 1992, Hanyang University, Korea (Industrial Chemistry Engineering)
M.S., 1995, Hanyang University, Korea (Industrial Chemistry Engineering)
Ph.D., 2001, University of Michigan Macromolecular Science and Engineering)
Postdoctorate, 2001-2004, University of Michigan
Research Associate, 2004-2006, Harvard University


Centennial Scholar, Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Illinois, 2013-16
Engineering Dean's Award for Excellence in Research, 2012
Korean Institute for Chemical Engineers Presidential Young Investigator Award, 2011
NSF CAREER Award, 2009