Jia Niu

Jia Niu

Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D., Harvard University, 2014
Postdoctoral Fellow; UC Santa Barbara, 2014-17

Selected Honors and Awards
Fieser Lecture Prize, Harvard University, 2013
Christensen Prize for Outstanding Research Achievement, Harvard University, 2013
Harvard Merit Fellowship, Harvard University, 2012



The chemical landscape on the cell surface, including proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and other molecular species, have played crucial roles in regulating a variety of cell functions, including cell-cell interaction, cellular signaling, immune response, and cell metabolism. Accordingly, engineering the chemical landscape of the cell surface with synthetic materials is increasingly regarded as a powerful approach for expanding the structural repertoire and properties of cells. Our lab will employ an interdisciplinary strategy that combines organic synthesis, polymer chemistry, bioconjugation, evolution, and bioengineering approaches to establish new capabilities for the engineering of the chemical landscape of the living cell surface towards novel functions. In particular, we are interested in three research directions: first, we aim to develop novel carbohydrate-nucleic acid hybrid materials for highly specific binding to the cell surface lectins, leading to potential applications of engineering the signaling pathways mediated by the carbohydrate-lectin recognition. Second, we hope to design and synthesize a new class of glycomimetic synthetic polymers with unique molecular architectures and comonomer sequences for the engineering of the cell surface and modulating key cell functions. The third focus of our lab is to use light to spatially and temporally control cell adhesion for the fabrication of complex three-dimensional tissues in vitro.

Representative Key Publications:

Niu, J.; Lunn, D.J.; Pusuluri, A.; Yoo, J.; O’Malley, M.A.; Mitragotri, S.; Soh, H.T.; Hawker, C.J. “Engineering Live Cell Surfaces with Functional Polymers via Cytocompatible Controlled Radical Polymerization.” Nature Chemistry Advanced Online Publication, DOI:10.1038/nchem.2713, 2017.

*Glavan, A.C.; *Niu, J.; Chen, Z.; Güder, F.; Cheng, C.M.; Liu, D.R. Whitesides, G.M. “Analytical Devices Based on Direct Synthesis of DNA on Paper.” Analytical Chemistry 88, 725-731, 2015.

Niu, J.; Hili, R.; Liu, D.R. “Enzyme-free Translation of DNA into Sequence-Defined Synthetic Polymers Structurally Unrelated to Nucleic Acids.” Nature Chemistry 5, 282-292, 2013.

Hili, R.; Niu, J.; Liu, D.R. “DNA Ligase-Mediated Translation of DNA Into Densely Functionalized Nucleic Acid Polymers.” Journal of American Chemical Society 135, 98-101, 2013.

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