Jianjun Cheng Headshot

Jianjun Cheng

Professor, Materials Science and Engineering

Areas of Research


Jianjun Cheng’s research focuses on medicinal chemistry, anticancer therapeutics, cancer targeting, and nanomedicine cancer drug delivery. He led the early design and development of IT-101 and polylactide-aptamer bioconjugates for prostate cancer targeting and therapy, both have entered Phase II trials. At the University of Illinois, he led the development of targeting technologies such as silicon nanoparticles for metastatic breast cancer targeting and oxime ligation chemistry mediated cancer targeting and ultrasound-assisted targeting, and click chemistry mediated in vitro and in vivo targeting. His current cancer research includes developing a breast cancer treatment through selective cell labeling, molecule-based targeted drug delivery for negative breast cancer treatment, and precision nanotherapeutics. 

Jianjun Cheng, PhD, received a B.S. degree in Chemistry from Nankai University, China, in 1993, a MS in chemistry from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1996, and a PhD 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 Urbana-Champaign in 2005 and is currently the Hans Thurnauer Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. He is a faculty affiliate of the 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. He was named a Willett Faculty Scholar in 2013. He is the recipient of a Prostate Cancer Foundation Competitive Award in 2007, an 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.