Hyunjoon (Joon) Kong’s lab is developing advanced biomaterials that can be used to address problems in biology and medicine. The Kong lab conducts research that aims to better understand the roles of an extracellular matrix and bio-transports on cancer progression. Kong has developed cell-laden hydrogels that allow one to examine the individual and combine the roles of various extracellular microenvironmental factors on invasive phenotypes of cancer cells. In particular, the Kong lab has demonstrated that the softness of the gel plays a significant role in triggering invasive activities of liver cancer cells and further promoting neovascularization in a transplanted site. Kong is working with Dr. Lawrence Schook to study the role of the gel matrix in making xenografts of liver cancer.
Kong is a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and a Centennial Scholar at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He is a core member of Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology and Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. He also holds affiliation with the Department of Bioengineering, Center for Biophysics and Computational Biology, and Neuroscience Program. He received his engineering education from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (PhD) and performed post-doctoral research at the University of Michigan and Harvard University. He joined the University of Illinois in 2007. During his academic career, he received the Scientist Development Grant from the American Heart Association, the Career Award from NSF, Center for Advanced Study Fellowship, UIUC Engineering Dean’s Award for Research Excellence, Centennial Scholar, and Promotion Award. He was recently elected to an American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) Fellow.