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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)

RESEARCH AREAS > Research Staff Details

Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology


YING Jackie Yi-Ru
Executive Director

Tel: 6824 7100

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. Macromolecular Antimicrobials to Combat Microbes

Chuan Yang, Shrinivas Venkataraman, Xin Ding, Shaoqiong Liu, Jeremy Tan, David Voo, Zhen Chang Liang, Eddy Tan, Shujun Gao, Yuan Yuan, Diane Lim, 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 and biocompatible, and have broad-spectrum antimicrobial activities against bacteria, yeast and fungi, to destroy multidrug-resistant microbes and prevent drug resistance development.

2. Inorganic Nanomaterials for Antimicrobial Applications

Guangshun Yi, Yuan Yuan, Xiukai Li, Hong Wu, Jackie Y. Ying and Yugen Zhang

IBN has developed inorganic and non-toxic antimicrobial materials specifically for surface disinfection and consumer care applications. Our antimicrobial technologies kill microbes either by physically rupturing their cell membranes or by radical killing mechanism, which prevents the microbes from developing drug resistance and mutating into superbugs. The nanomaterials are low-cost, environmentally friendly and safe. They are effective against a wide range of microbes and would be a powerful weapon against superbugs.

3. Using Green Tea Nanocomplex to Fight Cancer

Joo Eun Chung, Susi Tan, Kun Liang, Nunnarpas Yongvongsoontorn, Atsushi Yamashita, Li Li, Shengyong Ng, Shujun Gao, Lucky Swarnalatha Sasidharan, Rachel Sim, Min-Han Tan, 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.

Synthetic Biosystems

1. Fibrous Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering

Andrew Wan, Chan Du, Tze Chiun Lim, Hongfang Lu and Jackie Y. Ying

Tissue engineering requires the use of a framework or scaffold for cells to attach and grow. In addition, scaffolds may contain 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 this 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.

2. Anti-Fouling Polymer Hydrogels for Biomedical Applications

Nandanan Erathodiyil, Hong Wu, Yiran Zheng and Jackie Y. Ying

The success of implantable biomedical device technologies 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.

3. Synthetic Substrates for the Scalable Expansion of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells Under Chemically Defined Conditions

Nandanan Erathodiyil, Siv Ly Khou, Aysha Farwin, Yi Fei Lee, Yiran Zheng 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 and microcarriers for the scalable expansion of human embryonic, and induced pluripotent and mesenchymal stem cells. Under chemically defined conditions, different types of human pluripotent stem cells can be propagated for many passages without karyotypic changes, while maintaining their cell type-specific properties in terms of self-renewal, marker expression, and potency.

Biodevices and Diagnostics

1. An Automated Device for Sample Preparation and Multiplexing PCR Detection

Guo Lin Xu, Rensheng Deng, James Tseng Ming Hsieh, Muhammad Nadjad Abdul Rahim and Jackie Y. Ying

This project aims to develop an automated molecular diagnosis device to identify bacteria and viruses directly from complex samples like body fluids and food substances. The patient or food samples are lysed and purified before undergoing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for amplification and multiplex detection. Multiple bacteria and/or viruses can be detected at the same time from a single sample. The device will be designed to detect common food-borne pathogens and drug-resistant bacteria including Carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE) and Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE). The entire process can be completed within one hour in a microfluidic chip.

2. Circulating Tumor Cell Isolation for Non-Invasive Cancer Diagnosis and Prognosis

Min Hu, Jamie Mong, Jun-Li Shi, 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. Catching and analyzing CTCs can further our understanding of cancer metastasis and enhance the treatment of cancer patients. 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 devices enable the 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 CTCs can be easily eluted for molecular diagnosis, drug screening and assay development.

3. Nucleic Acid Detection Platforms for Molecular Diagnostics and Pharmacogenomics

Yanbing Zu and Jackie Y. Ying

The genome is the database containing all cellular information in human cells, including when and how the cells will grow. Any alteration to our genes can cause functional disruptions, resulting in diseases and uncontrolled growth, 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 highly sensitive and specific method to detect the presence or alteration of certain genes by a color change. The results can be interpreted easily and obtained inexpensively. 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.

4. Paper-Based Assays

Jun Hui Soh, Benjamin Tai, Thai Leong Yap, Aysha Farwin, Min Hu, Huajing Wang, Shin Yee Hong, Ying Ping Chua, Kyun Hyun Lee, Huaqiang Zeng, William Sun and Jackie Y. Ying

IBN is developing diagnostic platforms for infectious diseases that can be translated into point-of-care rapid test kits. The new paper-based assays can detect diseases such as dengue, Zika, hepatitis, and sexually transmitted diseases, using a small volume of blood or non-invasive saliva and urine 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, as well as to monitor cellular metabolic activities.

5. Sensor System for Diaper Wetness and Feces Monitoring

Rensheng Deng, Guo Lin Xu, Jun Hui Soh, Min Hu and Jackie Y. Ying

Effective incontinence management is important to improve the care of elderly patients, especially those with aphasia. We are developing a diaper wetness and feces monitoring sensor system. Our sensors are cost-effective and able to transmit output voltage signals that correspond to wetness level and amount of feces. This network-based monitoring system can be used in hospitals and nursing homes.

Green Chemistry and Energy

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

Jinquan Wang, Yuan Yuan, 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 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, the conversion of carbon dioxide to carbonates with organocatalysts. In addition, we are working on the production of hydrogen from water using photocatalysis and photo-electrochemical approaches.

2. Nanomaterials for Battery and Energy Applications

Jinhua Yang, Yue Yu, Xun Yuan, Ayman Amin Abdelhamid Amin, Jian Liang Cheong, Jinquan Wang, Siti Nurhanna Riduan, Alex Eng, Su Seong Lee, Yugen Zhang and Jackie Y. Ying

Nanomaterials have attracted significant attention for energy applications in recent years due to their excellent properties. Our research is focused on the design and synthesis of a variety of nanostructures, including nanoclusters with customized sizes, nanosheets, nanocrystals with tailored morphologies, and mesostructured materials, nanocomposite systems, porous organic polymers and metal organic frameworks. These novel materials are promising for use in stable, efficient, high-capacity battery and supercapacitor applications.


Generation of ‘‘Off-the-Shelf’’ Natural Killer Cells from Peripheral Blood Cell-Derived Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
Stem Cell Reports, (2017)
(IF: 7.338) article

Aptamer-Based ELISA Assay for Highly Specific and Sensitive Detection of Zika NS1 Protein
Analytical Chemistry, (2017)
DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b02862.
(IF: 6.320) article

Genetic Alphabet Expansion Transcription Generating Functional RNA Molecules Containing a Five-Letter Alphabet Including Modified Unnatural and Natural Base Nucleotides by Thermostable T7 RNA Polymerase Variants
Chemcial Communications, (2017)
DOI: 10.1039/c7cc06661a.
(IF: 6.319) article



Research Positions

Corporate Administration Positions

Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology   31 Biopolis Way, The Nanos, #04-01, Singapore 138669   Tel: +65 6824 7000   Fax: +65 6478 9080   Email:   |   View IBN Privacy Statement