Tirrell Group

Eun Ji Chung

  • Postdoctoral Fellow (Alumni 2017)
    Assistant Professor, USC

  • Contact: chunge@uchicago.edu
    773.702.7063

Eun Ji Chung received her BA in molecular biology at Scripps College in Claremont, California, and her PhD in biomedical engineering from Northwestern University. As an undergraduate thesis student at Scripps, Eun Ji investigated the role of histone deacetylases in tetrahymena thermophila in the laboratory of Dr. Emily Wiley. At Northwestern, she developed novel, citric acid-based polymers and nanocomposites for bone and ligament tissue engineering under the direction of Guillermo A. Ameer. Upon receiving the IBNAM-Baxter Early Career Award, she continued her research as a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern, where she focused on fabricating self-assembling membranes derived from natural ECM proteins and carbohydrates for applications in regenerative medicine. Eun Ji joined the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering in 2012 and is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Professor Matthew Tirrell’s group, and also a recipient of the American Heart Association postdoctoral fellowship. Her current research aims to develop an early detection system and a minimally invasive, diagnostic tool for atherosclerosis through the molecular design of peptide amphiphile micelles. Her overall research interests and goals seek to develop biomaterials that can be utilized in medicine.

Eun Ji's research interests involve the design, development, characterization, and application of peptide amphiphiles for cardiovascular and cancer diagnostics and therapeutics. Specifically, she is currently investigating monocyte-targeting, peptide amphiphile spherical micelles for early diagnosis of atherosclerosis. One of the first markers of atherosclerotic plaques is the inflammatory activation of endothelial cells that recruit monocytes in large quantities. Therefore, a molecular imaging tool that binds specifically to monocytes may provide a noninvasive, detection system for early-staged atherosclerosis. In addition to optical imaging, micelles are being tailored for detection using MRI and CT. Moreover, she is developing micelles that incorporate therapies as well as markers specific to vulnerable plaques.

For cancer, in collaboration with the Lesniak group, peptide amphiphile micelles that bind to brain cancer markers are investigated as diagnostic tools and chemotherapy carriers. By taking advantage of the leaky vasculature and the enhanced permeability and retention effect characteristic to tumors, the brain blood barrier is bypassed and the payload delivered.

Gadolinium-Functionalized Peptide Amphiphile Micelles for Multimodal Imaging of Atherosclerotic Lesi

S. P. Yoo, F. Pineda, J. C. Barrett, C. Poon, M. Tirrell, E. J. Chung. Gadolinium-Functionalized Peptide Amphiphile Micelles for Multimodal Imaging of Atherosclerotic Lesi. ACS Omega. 2016. Vol. 1, Pg. 996.

Self-assembling peptide-based building blocks in medical applications

H. Acar, S. Srivastava, E. J. Chung, M. R. Schnorenberg, J. C. Barrett, J. L. LaBelle, M. Tirrell. Self-assembling peptide-based building blocks in medical applications. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews. 2016.

Biocompatibility and Characterization of a Peptide Amphiphile Hydrogel for Applications

K. Black, B. Lin, E. Wonder, S. Desai, E. J. Chung, B. Ulery, R. Katari, and M. Tirrell. Biocompatibility and Characterization of a Peptide Amphiphile Hydrogel for Applications. Tissue Engineering A. 2015. Vol. 21, Pg. 1333-1342.

In vivo biodistribution and clearance of peptide amphiphile micelles

E. J. Chung, L. Mlinar, M. Sugimoto, K. Nord, B. Roman and M. Tirrell. In vivo biodistribution and clearance of peptide amphiphile micelles. Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology Biology and Medicine. 2015. Vol. 11, Pg. 479-487.

Recent Advances in Targeted, Self-Assembling Nanoparticles to Address Vascular Damage

E. J. Chung and M. Tirrell. Recent Advances in Targeted, Self-Assembling Nanoparticles to Address Vascular Damage. Advanced Healthcare Materials. 2015. Vol. 4, Pg. 2408–2422.

Cardiovascular disease: monocyte-targeting supramolecular micellar assemblies

E. J. Chung, L. Mlinar, K. Nord, M. Sugimoto, E. Wonder, F. Alenghat, Y. Fang, and M. Tirrell. Cardiovascular disease: monocyte-targeting supramolecular micellar assemblies. Advanced Healthcare Materials. 2015. Vol. 4, Pg. 324.