Faculty Profile

Hyunjoon Kong

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Hyunjoon Kong
Hyunjoon Kong
108 Roger Adams Laboratory MC 712
600 S. Mathews
Urbana Illinois 61801
(217) 333-1178


  • Research Associate, Harvard University, 2004-2006
  • Postdoctorate, University of Michigan, 2001-2004
  • Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2001
  • M.S., Hanyang University, Korea, 1995
  • B.S., Hanyang University, Korea, 1992


Hyunjoon Kong is Professor and Centennial Scholar in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. He also is affiliated with the Departments of Bioengineering and Pathobiology and is a member of the Regenerative Biology & Tissue Engineering research theme at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. Professor Kong joined the department in 2007. He received his PhD from the University of Michigan and his B.S. degree from Hanyang University in Korea. He completed his postdoctoral studies at the University of Michigan and was a research associate at Harvard University. At Illinois, he has developed several biomaterial systems useful for molecular and cell therapies of vascular diseases, control of biotransports, and organoid/tissue engineering. Prof. Kong has authored or co-authored more than 110 research papers and over 5 issued and pending patent applications. He received multiple research awards. He recently joined the international editorial board of Biomaterials.

Academic Positions

  • Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 2007-2013
  • Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 2013-2016
  • Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 2016-

For more information

Major Consulting Activities

  • International Editorial Board Member of Biomaterials

Research Statement

Our group’s overall goal is to develop advanced material systems useful for fundamental and applied biosciences. Specifically, we focus on creating simple, but novel methods to control nano- and micro-structure of materials inspired by nature and further modulate chemical and physical properties of materials, in an independent manner. In addition, we are exploring use of the resulting material systems in multiple applications including drug delivery, diagnosis/bioimaging, 3D cell culture and therapies, and tissue repair and regeneration. In this context, our current research projects include;

  1. Differential controls of chemical, mechanical and transport properties of bioactive hydrogels for 3D cell culture, cell transplantation, and revascularization therapies
  2. Modular assembly of multifunctional nano- and microparticles for diagnosis, imaging, and treatments of cardiovascular diseases
  3. Nanomaterial for target stem cell delivery
  4. Stem/Cancer cell clusters for understanding emergent cell behavior towards tissue development and pathogenesis

Research Interests

  • Bio-Inspired Materials, Drug Delivery, Cell Manufacturing and Therapy, Tissue Engineering

Books Edited or Co-Edited (Original Editions)

  • Stem cells and revascularization therapies. Edited by Kong, H.J., Putnam, A.J. & Schook L.B. CRC Press (2012).

Selected Articles in Journals

  • Lee, M., Park, J., Wang, X., Roein-Peikar M., Ko, E., Qin, E., Lee, J., Ha, E*., Kong, H.J*. Rupture force of cell adhesion ligand tethers modulates biological activities of a cell-laden hydrogel. Chemical Communication 52:4757 (2016).
  • Lee, M.K., Rich, M., Lee, J.H., & Kong, H.J. A bio-inspired, microchanneled hydrogel with controlled spacing of cell adhesion ligands regulates 3D spatial organization of cells and tissue. Biomaterials 58:26-34 (2015).
  • Shkumatov, A., Thompson, M., Choi, K.M., Sicard, D., Baek, K., Kim, D.H., Tschumperlin, D.J., Prakash, Y.S. & Kong, H.J. Matrix stiffness-modulated proliferation and secretory function of the airway smooth muscle cells. American Journal of Physiology: Lung Cellular Molecular Physiology 308:L1125-1135 (2015) -Editor￿s Picks.
  • Lai, M-H., Clay, N., Kim, D. H. & Kong, H.J. Bacterium-Mimicking nanoparticle surface functionalization with targeting motifs. Nanoscale 7, 6737 - 6744 (2015).
  • Vega, J., Lee, M.K., Jeong, J.H., Smith, C., Lee, K.Y., Chung, H.J., Leckband, D. & Kong, H. J. Recapitulating cell-cell adhesion using N-cadherin biologically tethered to substrates. Biomacromolecules 15, 2172-2179 (2014).
  • Chen, J., Lee, M.K., Qin, E., Misra, S., & Kong, H.J. Van der Waals force-induced loading of proangiogenic nanoparticles on microbubbles for enhanced neovascularization. Nanoscale 7: 17139-17147 (2015)
  • Smith, C., Shkumatov, A., Withers, S., Glockner, J., Misra, S., Roy, E., Wong, C-H, Zimmerman, S. & Kong, H.J. A Polymeric Fastener can Easily Functionalize Liposome Surfaces with Gadolinium for Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging ACS Nano 7:9599-9610 (2013).
  • Baek, G.H., Jeong, J., Shkumatov, A., Bashir, R. & Kong, H.J. In situ self-folding assembly of multi-walled hydrogel tube for uniaxial, sustained molecular release. Advanced Materials 39:5568-5573 (2013).
  • Yonet, N., M. Rich, Lee, M.K., Lai, M-H, & Kong, H.J. Spatiotemporal Control of Erosion and Molecular Release from Micropatterned Poly(ethylene glycol)-based Hydrogel. Biomaterials 34: 8416-8423 (2013).
  • Cha, C., Antoniadou, E., Lee, M., Jeong, J.H., Ahmed, W.W., Saif, T.A., Boppart, S.A. & Kong H. J. Tailoring hydrogel adhesion to Polydimethylsiloxane substrates using polysaccharide glue. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 52:6949-6952(2013). ￿ Chosen as Hot Paper
  • Jeong, J.H., Schmidt J.J., Kohman, R.E., Zill, A.T., Devolder, R.J., Smith, C.E., Lai, M.H., Shkumatov, A., Jensen, T.W., Schook, L.G., Zimmerman, S.C., & Kong H.J. Leukocyte-Mimicking Stem Cell Delivery via in Situ Coating of Cells with a Bioactive Hyperbranched Polyglycerol. Journal of the American Chemical Society 135:8763-8765 (2013). – Highlighted by C&EN News & SciBX, chosen as a spotlight by JACS
  • Lai, M., Jeong, J., DeVolder, R., Brockman, C., Schroeder, C.M., & Kong, H.J. Ellipsoidal polyaspartamide polymersomes with enhanced cell-targeting ability. Advanced Functional Materials 22:3239-3246 (2012).
  • Jeong, J., Cha, C., Chan, V., Zorulutuna, P., Bashir, R., & Kong, H.J. Living microvascular stamp for patterning of functional neovessels; Orchestrated control of matrix property and geometry. Advanced Materials 24: 58-63 (2012). – Cover article, highlighted by C&EN & Chemical Engineering Progress.
  • DeVolder, R., Bae, H., Lee, J., & Kong, H.J. Directed blood vessel growth using angiogenic microfiber/microparticle composite patch. Advanced Materials 23:3139-3143 (2011).
  • Liang, Y., Jensen, T.W., Roy, E.J., Cha, C., DeVolder, R.J., Kohman, R.E., Zhang, B.Z., Textor, K.B., Rund, L.A., Schook, L.B., Tong, Y.W., & Kong, H.J. Tuning the non-equilibrium state of a drug-encapsulated poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogel for stem and progenitor cell mobilization. Biomaterials 32:2004-2012 (2011).
  • Cha, C., Kim, S., Cao, L., & Kong, H.J. Decoupled control of stiffness and permeability of cell-encapsulated poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogel. Biomaterials 31:4864-4871 (2010).
  • Cha, C., Kohman, R., & Kong, H.J. Biodegradable polymer cross-linker: Independent control of stiffness, toughness and degradation rate of hydrogel. Advanced Functional Materials 19:3056-3062 (2009).
  • Schmidt, J.J., Rowley, J., & Kong, H.J. Hydrogels used for cell-based drug delivery. Journal of Biomedical Materials Research A 87:1113-1122 (2008).
  • Kong, H.J. & Mooney, D.J. Cellular microenvironments to regulate biomacromolecular therapies. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 6:455-463 (2007).
  • Kong, H.J., Boontheekul, T., & Mooney, D.J. Quantifying the relation between adhesion ligand-receptor bond formation and cell phenotype. Proceedings of the National Academy Sciences (USA) 103:18534-18539 (2006).
  • Kong, H.J., Polte, T., Alsberg, E., & Mooney D.J. FRET measurements of cell-traction forces and nano-scale clustering of adhesion ligands varied by substrate stiffness. Proceedings of the National Academy Sciences (USA) 102:4300-4305 (2005),
  • Kong, H.J., Liu, J., Riddle, K., Matsumoto, T., Leach, K., & Mooney D.J. Gene delivery regulated by substrate rigidity. Nature Materials 4:460-464 (2005) ￿ Highlighted by Nature 435:250 (2005).
  • Kong, H.J., Alsberg, E., Darnell, K., Lee, K.Y., & Mooney, D.J. Controlling degradation of hydrogels via the size of cross-linked junctions. Advanced Materials 16:1917-1921(2004)


  • Centennial Scholar, 2013-2016
  • Campus Distinguished Promotion Award, 2016
  • Engineering Dean's Award for Research Achievement, 2016
  • University of Illinois Center for Advanced Study Fellow, 2012-2013
  • Korean Institute for Chemical Engineers President Young Investigator Award, 2011
  • CAREER Award, National Science Foundation, 2009
  • Scientist Development Grant, American Heart Association, 2008
  • Fellowship, Hanyang University, 1995
  • Samnam Foundation Fellowship, Lotte Inc., Korea, 1991