A*STAR Outstanding Publications Award
2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017
A*STAR Patent Power Award
2009, 2010 and 2017
Singapore HEALTH Award
(Platinum) 2012, (Gold) 2008 and 2010
BCA Green Mark Award
2013 (Gold) and 2017 (Gold and Goldplus)

ISO Certified (ISO 9001:2008)

OHSAS Certified (SS 506 Part 1:2009/ BS OHSAS 18001:2007

RESEARCH AREAS > Research Staff Details

Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology


YING Jackie Yi-Ru
Executive Director

Tel: 6824 7100
Email: jyying@ibn.a-star.edu.sg

View CV

Adjunct Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA), 2005-present
Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA), 2001-2005

Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, Princeton University, USA, 1991
M.A. in Chemical Engineering, Princeton University, USA, 1988
B.E. in Chemical Engineering, The Cooper Union, USA, 1987

Projects Publications Patents


1. Using Green Tea Nanocomplex to Fight Cancer

Joo Eun Chung, Susi Tan, Kun Liang, Nunnarpas Yongvongsoontorn, Shujun Gao, Motoichi Kurisawa and Jackie Y. Ying

Green tea has long been known for its anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, anti-aging and anti-microbial properties. IBN has taken the health benefits of green tea to the next level by using one of its key compounds, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), to develop micellar nanocomplexes for delivering anti-cancer protein drugs. The nanocarrier is formed by complexation of oligomerized EGCG with the protein drugs to form the core, followed by complexation of poly(ethylene glycol)–EGCG to form the shell. The micellar nanocomplexes protect the protein drugs from rapid proteolysis and renal clearance, while providing for tumor targeting. This green tea nanocarrier reduces tumor growth more effectively than using the drug by itself. We are also exploring the delivery of active ingredients in personal care and nutritional products using the micellar nanocomplexes.

2. Macromolecular Antimicrobials to Combat Microbes

Chuan Yang, Wei Cheng, Noel Xu, Xin Ding, Shaoqiong Liu, Ashlynn Lee, Majad Khan, Shrinivas Venkataraman, Jeremy Tan, Nor Lizawati Ibrahim, Willy Chin, David Voo, Shujun Gao, Yuan Yuan, Hong Wu, Jackie Y. Ying, Yugen Zhang and Yi Yan Yang

The increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistant infections, such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), has sparked off a pressing need for innovative antimicrobial treatments. IBN has developed a new class of antimicrobial polymers and peptides that can provide a new arsenal against superbugs. Most modern-day antibiotics act on specific molecular targets within the bacteria. While this yields therapeutic specificity, it also allows resistance development through mutation since the bacterial cell structure is generally preserved. The antimicrobial macromolecules are biodegradable, biocompatible and have broad-spectrum antimicrobial activities against bacteria, yeast and fungi, to destroy multidrug-resistant microbes and prevent drug resistance development.

3. Encapsulation and Delivery of Active Ingredients for Medical and Consumer Applications

Y. Shona Pek, Wu Hong and Jackie Y. Ying

Personal care and consumer products typically require the encapsulation and delivery of one or more active ingredients. For such applications, the stability of the active ingredients in the delivery system, as well as the tunability of the delivery mechanism are important factors in evaluating the effectiveness of the delivery system. In particular, continuous delivery of active ingredients with minimal initial burst is highly desirable. We have developed microspheres and nanoemulsion-based delivery systems capable of encapsulating sensitive active ingredients, such as drugs and proteins, while maintaining their activity and efficacy. These systems are non-toxic and safe for long-term use. With our technologies, we have successfully delivered active ingredients for postoperative, ocular, wound infection and skincare applications for the medical and consumer industries.

Synthetic Biosystems

1. Development of a Bioartificial Kidney

Farah Tasnim, Ming Ni, Karthikeyan Kandasamy, Jackie Y. Ying and Daniele Zink

Artificial kidneys are widely used to treat patients suffering from renal failure but are unable to replicate many of the physiological functions of the kidney. As such, this treatment is associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality. IBN’s bioartificial kidney incorporates a layer of human kidney cells on specially designed hollow fiber membranes. The cells can perform the metabolic, transport and endocrinological functions of the kidney, which are lacking in conventional treatment. IBN is also developing a device that delivers the growth factor, bone morphogenetic protein-7, to kidney patients. We are seeking industrial collaborations to commercialize our bioartificial kidney project.

2. Fibrous Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering

Andrew Wan, Karthikeyan Narayanan, Chan Du, Meng Fatt Leong, Tze Chiun Lim, Hongfang Lu, Nina Ma, Ying Ping Chua and Jackie Y. Ying

Tissue engineering requires the use of a framework or scaffold for cells to attach and grow. In addition, scaffolds may present biological molecules, which control the rate of cell growth and propensity of stem cells to differentiate into cells of specific tissues and organs. Most of the current processes for the production of tissue scaffolds require high temperatures and organic solvents, which may denature the proteins and other biological molecules to be incorporated. In the current project, we are fabricating scaffolds by encapsulating cells and the relevant biological molecules into fibers that are formed at the interface between two oppositely charged polyelectrolytes. These fibers are then combined to form 3D patterned tissue constructs.

3. Predictive In Vitro Assays for Nephrotoxicology and Nanotoxicology

Yao Li, Peng Huang, Sijing Xiong, Jacqueline Chuah, Kim Guat Eng, Rensheng Deng, Jackie Y. Ying and Daniele Zink

The lack of predictive toxicity screening technologies is a major cause of failure for current drug development. Approved in vitro assays for the major human target organs, liver and kidney, are not available. We are developing organ-specific predictive screening technologies based on our expertise in tissue engineering, stem cell technology, drug development, microfluidics, imaging and high-content screening. 2D and 3D models are currently explored together with industrial partners in combination with IBN’s DropArray™ technology for high-content screening.

4. Cost-Effective Substrates for the Scalable Expansion of Human Stem Cells Under Chemically Defined Conditions

Nandanan Erathodiyil, Karthikeyan Kandasamy, Karthikeyan Narayanan, Aysha Farwin, Yong Wang, Leng Leng Chng, Andrew C. A. Wan, Daniele Zink and Jackie Y. Ying

Clinical applications of human stem cells require large cell numbers and cell growth under chemically defined conditions. Appropriate in vitro culture systems should include synthetic substrates that support stem cell growth in combination with media that do not contain any components purified from humans or animals. Large-scale applications of expensive materials, such as peptide-based substrates, are cost-prohibitive. We are developing cost-effective and fully synthetic coatings that can be applied to flat synthetic substrates and microcarriers. Large-scale expansion of human embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells on these substrates is addressed by using serum- and xeno-free media. The results reveal that on our current substrates, different types of human stem cells can be propagated for at least 10 passages without karyotypic changes, while maintaining their cell type-specific properties in terms of self-renewal and potency.

5. Anti-Fouling Polymer Hydrogels for Biomedical Applications

Nandanan Erathodiyil, Ismail Hanif, Hong Wu, Md Shahrudin Ibrahim and Jackie Y. Ying

The success of implantable biomedical device technologies crucially depends on controlling bio-interfacial phenomena, such as foreign body response and implant encapsulation. Thus, precise control of interactions between host material surfaces and the physiological environment is critical for effective and safe application of medical devices and biosensors. Immobilization and coating of anti-fouling polymers on implantable surfaces have been used to reduce the interaction of the designed surfaces with biomolecules, cells, bacteria and microorganisms. Our research is focused on the development of cost-effective, versatile and facile synthesis of anti-fouling biomaterials. Novel nanostructured hydrogel materials of various compositions, architecture and surface chemistry are created with excellent anti-fouling performance and long-term durability under in vivo conditions. We are also designing anti-coagulant and omniphobic materials with chemical and structural versatility, which would aid in achieving the full potential of these materials for biomedical applications.

Biodevices and Diagnostics

1. G-Protein Coupled Receptors for Ultrasensitive Diagnostic Devices

Jun Hui Soh, Jackie Y. Ying and Charlotte Hauser

G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) belong to one of the most important protein classes in living systems. They are directly involved in important signal transduction processes, such as sensing, learning, memory and other physiological functions. IBN is investigating GPCRs to develop diagnostic and drug screening devices. IBN is also focusing on a class of ultrashort self-assembling peptides, which can be used as templates for making conductive wires, nanoparticle arrays, hybrid spheres and superstructures for next-generation biosensors, as well as functional electrochemical and optoelectronic devices.

2. An Automated All-In-One Device for Sample Preparation and Multiplexing PCR Detection

Guo Lin Xu, Rensheng Deng, James Tseng Ming Tsieh, Jinyan Zhang, Yi Zhang and Jackie Y. Ying

This project aims to develop an automated all-in-one device for sample preparation and gene detection in molecular diagnosis for drug-resistant pathogens, such as MRSA. The sample is lysed and purified before it undergoes polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification and multiplexing detection. The entire process is completed within two hours in a sealed microfluidic chip.

3. Circulating Tumor Cell Isolation for Non-Invasive Cancer Diagnosis and Monitoring

Igor Cima, Nur Afidah Mohamed Suhaimi, Jamie Mong, Jun-Li Shi, Jess Vo, Wai Min Phyo, Daniel Lee, Laiyi Lin, Guolin Xu, Muhammad Nadjad Abdul Rahim, Min Hu, Min-Han Tan and Jackie Y. Ying

Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are cells that detach from a primary tumor and travel in the bloodstream to other locations, leading to the spread of tumor in the body. CTCs could provide a valuable source for the early detection of cancer metastasis. However, CTCs are very rare compared to the large number of blood cells in the body, and there is a lack of universal cancer cell biomarkers to distinguish them from other circulating cells. Based on size and deformability selection, IBN’s microsieve device enables the speedy and effective isolation of circulating tumor cells from patients’ blood samples in minutes without the use of costly reagents and complex instruments. The microsieve technology permits a simple workflow, with rapid separation and cell characterization on the same device. Intact and viable isolated tumor cells can be easily eluted for molecular diagnosis, drug screening and assay development.

4. Nucleic Acid Detection Platforms for Molecular Diagnostics and Pharmacogenomics

Yanbing Zu, Aysha Farwin and Jackie Y. Ying

The genome is the database containing all cellular information in human cells, including when and how the cells will grow. Alteration to any part of our genes could cause functional disruptions, resulting in diseases and uncontrolled growths, i.e. cancer. These alterations may also cause people to become less sensitive or overly responsive to certain drugs, which may lead to side effects and even death. Using gold-morpholino nanoprobes, we have developed a new method to detect the presence or alteration of certain genes by a mere observation of solution color change, so that the results can be interpreted easily. Our method is also applicable for the detection of harmful bacteria. We are developing a number of clinically important assay kits for the healthcare industry.

5. Paper-Based Assays

Jianhao Bai, Yi Zhang, Y. Shona Pek, Thai Leong Yap, Kyun Hyun Lee, Minyi Fang, Huaqiang Zeng, William Sun and Jackie Y. Ying

IBN is developing diagnostic platforms for infectious diseases that can be translated into point-of-care test kits. The new paper-based assays can detect diseases such as dengue, hepatitis, diabetes, and sexually transmitted diseases using a small amount of blood or non-invasive saliva samples. They are designed to be fast, accurate and convenient for self-testing so as to facilitate health monitoring. We are incorporating new reagents, such as aptamers, short peptides, and new antibodies to further improve the assay’s performance. Paper-based assays are also being developed for food safety and environment monitoring applications.

Green Chemistry and Energy

1. Catalytic Systems for Green Synthesis, Carbon Dioxide Utilization and Renewable Energy

Jinquan Wang, Xueqin Cao, Yuan Yuan, Xinglong Zhang, Tedrick Salim Lew, Yugen Zhang and Jackie Y. Ying

IBN is investigating the use of green and environmentally friendly technologies for organic synthesis. We are creating highly efficient and highly selective catalysts such as nano-structured metal oxide catalysts and metal-free polymer catalysts, for the dehydration of biomass into chemicals, fuels and materials. We are also working on converting harmful greenhouse gases into useful chemicals or fuels, for example using copper-N-heterocyclic carbene catalyzed transformation of carbon dioxide to carboxylic acid, and N-hetercyclic carbene catalyzed conversion of carbon dioxide to methanol.

2. Heterogeneous Catalysts for Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Synthesis

Jian Liang Cheong, Yaling Shao, Leng Leng Chng, Jackie Y. Ying, Yugen Zhang and Su Seong Lee

Green chemistry involves novel environmentally friendly technologies for organic synthesis and transformations through catalytic reactions. These reactions are essential in the synthesis of pharmaceuticals and chemicals. We have developed heterogeneous catalysts that can achieve excellent reactivity, selectivity and recyclability for a variety of reactions. They can be applied to continuous flow reactors for efficient reaction processes. We have immobilized homogeneous organometallic and organic complexes and bio-catalysts on siliceous mesocellular foams and nanoporous polymers, as well as developed nanocomposites to catalyze a wide variety of organic reactions.

3. Nanomaterials for Fuel Cell and Battery Applications

Jinhua Yang, Yue Yu, Xun Yuan, Ayman Amin Abdelhamid Amin and Jackie Y. Ying

Fuel cells and batteries based on nanomaterials have attracted significant attention in recent years due to their excellent properties. Our research is focused on the design and synthesis of a variety of inorganic nanostructures, including nanoclusters with customized sizes, nanocrystals with tailored morphologies, and mesostructured crystals and nanocomposite systems. These novel materials are promising for use in highly efficient and low-cost fuel cell and battery applications.

4. Bio-Renewable Chemicals from Biomass and Biomass-Derived Feedstock

Guangshun Yi, Xiukai Li, Xueqin Cao, Siew Ping Teong, Jian Liang Cheong, Yaling Shao, Jinhua Yang, Jackie Y. Ying, Su Seong Lee and Yugen Zhang

Growing environmental concern over the use of fossil fuels and diminishing natural resources have led to an increasing need for a renewable source for energy and chemicals. Biomass, such as wood, corn, sugar cane and waste, can be used to produce fuels and chemicals via new catalytic processes. This project aims to develop green and cost-effective systems for the production of chemicals and materials from raw biomass and biomass-derived feedstock. For example, we have developed platform technologies for converting sugars to furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), ethanol to butadiene, sugar acid to adipic acid, and bio-glycerol to acrylic acid.


18 Sep
Falling Walls Lab Singapore 2017

6 Dec - 10 Dec
5th Nano Today Conference

Event Calendar   


Biodegradable Cationic Poly(carbonates): Effect of Varying Side Chain Hydrophobicity on Key Aspects of Gene Transfection
Acta Biomaterialia, (2017)
DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2017.03.027.
(IF: 6.025) article

Short Synthetic β-Sheet Antimicrobial Peptides for the Treatment of Multidrug-Resistant Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Burn Wound Infections
Advanced Healthcare Materials, 6 (2017) 1601134.
(IF: 5.760) article

Highly Potent Antimicrobial Polyionenes with Rapid Killing Kinetics, Skin Biocompatibility and In Vivo Bactericidal Activity
Biomaterials, 127 (2017) 36-48.
(IF: 8.387) article



Research Positions

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