Dr. Wenwen Huang awarded 2020 ZJU-Cornell Joint Seed Fund


Recently, Prof. Wenwen Huang has been awarded a ZJU-Cornell Joint Seed Fund to design and synthesize multi-stimuli responsive biomaterials. The funding is provided by Zhejiang University and Cornell China Center to support world-class research, education, collaboration and entrepreneurship across diverse communities in ZJU and Cornell.



About this joint project:

China is grappling with demographic shifts due to the global trend of rapid aging that exacerbates the burden of noncommunicable diseases and causes an urgent need to improve preventions and treatments. To address this, we are developing soft, adaptive, and responsive biomaterials using elastin: a major structural protein with high water content, tunable viscoelasticity, and biocompatibility. Using recombinant DNA technology, mechanically weak elastin can be fused with strong silk to adjust the mechanical properties of the dynamic elastin system, dubbed silk-elastin- like proteins (SELPs). We will design and synthesize reconfigurable, self-assembled SELP hydrogels with controllable properties to perform highly specific, pre-programmed functions. We will tightly integrate computational modelling and synthetic biology to design hydrogels that respond to combinatorial changes in temperature, pH, light, and electromagnetic fields. We embed computational modelling into the early stages of material synthesis to achieve time- and cost- efficiencies in generating specific targeted functions from molecular building blocks.


Figure. The amino acid sequence in silk-elastin-like proteins can be specifically tailored to imbue the resulting hydrogel with a broad range of stimuli-response


About ZJE/Cornell labs:

Huang lab (ZJE, China) has extensive knowledge and expertise in the development and integration of de novo designed protein biomaterials with high throughput screening and regenerative medicine. Her lab focuses on the synthesis of tailored proteins with tunable functional properties using recombinant DNA technology and the translation of protein biomaterials for tissue engineering and controlled release systems.
Yeo’s lab (Cornell, USA) deploy bio-inspired, bottom-up, computational approaches to rationally design next-generation biomaterials and precisely obtain the desired properties and functions. His lab harness polymeric design principles developed by Nature and combine multiscale modeling with high throughput simulations to rapidly test and validate the properties of these materials for implementation.