Kong receives 2021 Seed Awards in support of collaborative cancer research


Chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Hyunjoon Kong will participate in two of nine new interdisciplinary projects at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign supported by the Cancer Center at Illinois (CCIL) annual seed grant awards.

Since launching in 2019, CCIL seed grant funding has supported interdisciplinary cancer research projects that facilitate cross-campus collaboration. The nine projects selected span multiple University of Illinois departments and faculty.

Hyunjoon Kong
Hyunjoon Kong

Kong will provide natural-synthetic extracellular matrices that can regulate cellular signaling and force with their chemical and mechanical properties. Kong is currently leading Multi-Cellular Engineered Living Systems (MCELS), a new research theme at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB). The two principal investigators of the CCIL-funded projects, Rashid Bashir and Taher Saif, are core members of the MCELS theme.

Project Title: FORce Control of Cancer Tumor μEnvironment (FORCE)
Principal Investigator: M. Taher Saif, Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering
Research Team: Kimberly Selting, Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine; Kannanganattu V. Prasanth, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology; Hyunjoon Kong, Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Project Title: Multi-shape 3D Hanging Drop Array for Cancer Drug-screening
Principal Investigator: Rashid Bashir, Department of Bioengineering
Research Team: Panagiotis Z. Anastasiadis, Department of Cancer Biology (Mayo Clinic – Jacksonville, FL); George Vasmatzis, Department of Molecular Medicine (Mayo Clinic – Rochester, MN); Andrew Smith, Department of Bioengineering; Hyunjoon Kong, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Jie Chen, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Previous grant projects have led to a number of additional external funding opportunities, including a recent $1.25 million NIH grant to further explore breast cancer progression.

“Due to the proven success of the CCIL Seed Grant Program, we were able to support additional initiatives in 2021 compared to previous years,” said Paul Hergenrother, CCIL Deputy Director. “CCIL scientists are making bold discoveries and leading innovative initiatives that will create technologies and techniques that will translate from labs to clinics. The depth of science, engineering, and technology expertise at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign will transform the cancer industry for years to come.”     

Check out the CCIL’s original story to learn more about the other projects.