Faculty Profile

Jianjun Cheng

Materials Science and Engineering
Jianjun Cheng
Jianjun Cheng
Hans Thurnauer Professor
202A Materials Science & Eng Bld
1304 W. Green
Urbana Illinois 61801
(217) 244-3924

Primary Research Area

  • Materials for Medicine

For more information

Professional Highlights

  • Professor Jianjun Cheng received a B.S. degree in Chemistry from Nankai University, China, in 1993, a M.S. degree in chemistry from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1996, and a Ph.D. degree in materials science from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2001. He was a senior scientist at Insert Therapeutics, Inc. from 2001 to 2004, and a postdoctoral fellow at MIT from 2004 to 2005. He joined the faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2005 and is currently an Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. He is a faculty affiliate of Department of Chemistry, Department of Bioengineering, Beckman Institute, Institute of Genomic Biology, Materials Research Laboratory, Micro- and Nanotechnology Laboratory, and University of Illinois Cancer Center. Professor Cheng was named as Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students at Illinois for five times in 2008-2010 and a Willett Faculty Scholar in 2013.  Prof. Cheng is the recipient of a Prostate Cancer Foundation Competitive Award in 2007, a NSF Career Award in 2008, a Xerox Award for Faculty Research in 2010, and a National Institute of Health Director’s New Innovator Award in 2010.  He is currently an Associate Editor of Biomaterials Science.

Research Statement

Functional Polymers, Biomaterials, Nanomedicine

Our research is focused on design, synthesis, characterization and evaluation of functional polymers and biomaterials.  A broad scope of multidisciplinary areas is covered in our research, including materials science, organic and polymer chemistry, bioengineering and pharmaceutical science. We are interested in and working on the following specific research projects:

  1. Nanomedicines for improved cancer therapy, drug and gene delivery
  2. Cancer targeting with small molecules or nanomaterials.
  3. Polypeptide design, synthesis and applications; cell-penetrating peptides 
  4. Functional and responsive polymers, such as self-healing, shape memory, degradation.

Research Areas

  • Biomaterials

Research Topics

Selected Articles in Journals

  • Ying, H.; Zhang, Y.; Cheng, J.; "Dynamic urea bond for the design of reversible and self-healing polymers", Nature Communications, 5, 3218 (2014).
  • Yin, Q.; Yap, F.Y.; Yin, L.; Ma, L.; Zhou, Q.; Dobrucki, L.W.; Fan, T.M.; Gaba, R.C.; Cheng, J. "Poly(iohexol) Nanoparticles As Constrast Agents for In Vivo X-ray Computed Tomography Imaging", Journal of American Chemical Society, 135, 13620-13623 (2013).
  • Tang, H.; Yin, L.; Kim, K.H.; Cheng, J. "Helical Poly(arginine) Mimics with Superior Cell-Penetrating and Molecular Transporting Properties", Chemical Science, 4, 3839-3844 (2013).
  • Yin, L.; Tang, H.; Kim, K.H.; Zheng, N.; Song, Z.; Gabrielson, NP.; Lu, H.; Cheng, J.* "Trigger-Responsive Helical Polypeptides Capable of Toxicity Reduction and DNA Unpacking toward Non-Viral Gene Delivery", Angew Chem. Int. Ed., 52, 9182-9186 (2013).
  • Wang, J.; Xia, H.; Zhang, Y.; Lu, H.; Kamat, R.; Dobrynin, A.V.; Cheng, J.; Lin, Y. "Nucleation-Controlled Polymerization of Nanoparticles into Supramolecular Structures", Journal of the American Chemical Society, 135, 11417-11420 (2013).
  • Zhang, Y.; Yin, Q.; Yin, L.; Ma, L.; Tang, L.; Cheng, J. "Chain-Shattering Polymeric Therapeutics with On-Demand Drug-Release Capability", Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 52, 6435-6439 (2013).
  • Yin, L.; Song, Z.; Qu, Q.; Kim, KH; Zheng, N.; Yao, C.; Chaudhury, I.; Tang, H.; Gabrielson, NP; Uckun, FM; Cheng, J. ￿Supramolecular self-assembled nanoparticles mediate oral delivery of therapeutic TNF-α siRNA against systemic inflammation ", Angew. Chem. Int. Ed, 52, 5757-5761 (2013).
  • Tang, L.; Yang, X.; Dobrucki, LW; Chaudhury, I.; Yin, Q.; Yao, C.; Lezmi, S.; Helferich, WG* Fan, TM;* Cheng, J.* "Aptamer-functionalized, ultra-small, monodisperse silica nanoconjugate for targeted dual-modal imaging of lymph nodes with metastatic tumors", Angew Chem. Int. Ed., 124, 12893￿12898 (2012).
  • Gabrielson, N. P.; Lu, H.; Kim, KH, Cheng, J.* "A Cell-Penetrating Helical Polymer for siRNA Delivery to Mammalian Cells", Molecular Therapy, 20, 1599-1609 (2012).
  • Gabrielson, N.; Lu, H.; Li, D.; Wang, F.; Cheng, J.;* "Reactive and Bioactive Cationic g-Helical Polypeptide Template for Non-Viral Gene Delivery", Angew Chem. Int. Ed., 51, 1143-1147 (2012)
  • Wang, J.; Lu, H.; Kamat, R.; Pingali, S. V.; Urban, V. S.; Cheng, J.*; Lin, Y.* ￿Supramolecular Polymerization from Polypeptide-Grafted Comb Polymers￿, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 133, 12906-12909 (2011)
  • Lu, H.; Wang, J.; Bai, Y.; Lang, J.; Liu, S.; Lin, Y. and Cheng, J.*, "Ionic polypeptides with unusual helical stability," Nature Communications 2, 206 (2011).
  • Lu, H., Wang, J., Lin, Y. and Cheng, J., ￿One-pot synthesis of brush-like polymers via integrated ring-opening metathesis polymerization and polymerization of amino acid N-carboxyanhydrides,￿ Journal of American Chemical Society 131, 13582-3 (2009).
  • Tong, R. and Cheng, J., ￿Ring-opening polymerization mediated-controlled formulation of polylactide nanoparticles,￿ Journal of American Chemical Society 131, 4744-4754 (2009).
  • Lu, H. and Cheng, J., ￿Controlled ring-opening polymerization of amino acid N-carboxyanhydrides and facile end group functionalization of polypeptides,￿ Journal of American Chemical Society 130, 12562-12563 (2008).
  • Tong, R. and Cheng, J., ￿Paclitaxel-initiated, controlled polymerization of lactide for the formulation of polymeric nanoparticulate delivery vehicles,￿ Angewandte Chemie International Edition 47, 4830-4834 (2008).
  • Lu, H. and Cheng, J., ￿Hexamethyldisilazane-mediated controlled polymerization of α-amino acid-N-carboxyanhydrides,￿ Journal of American Chemical Society 129, 14114-14115 (2007).

Research Honors

  • Associate, Center for Advanced Study (2014)
  • Willett Faculty Scholar Award (2013)
  • NIH, New Innovator Award (2010)
  • Xerox Award for Faculty Research (2010)
  • NSF CAREER Award (2008-2013)
  • Prostate Cancer Foundation Competitive Award (2007-2008)