Dr Eunjung Kim

Postdoctoral Research Associate
Department of Materials

Imperial College London

Dr Eunjung Kim is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Prof Molly Stevens' group at Imperial College London working on the development of biosensors using nanomaterials, with particular interest in the detection of nucleic acids. Following undergraduate studies at Chung-ang University in 2007, she was awarded her PhD in 2014 in the group of Prof Seungjoo Haam at Yonsei University. During her PhD, she researched the use of stimuli-responsive, targetable nanomaterials for gene delivery and imaging and the use of signal-producing nanoprobes for specific biomolecular recognition. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on the use of material engineering and nanoparticle technology to create new functional nanomaterials for biomedical applications such as biosensing, drug/gene delivery, and diagnostics.

DNA-based Functional Materials: Towards Biosensing and Therapeutic System

DNA is a double helix that carries genetic information in biological system. In the field of DNA nanotechnology, unlike genetic DNA, synthetic DNA has tremendous potential for the design and assembly of well-defined structures or logic gates with unique functionalities via Watson-Crick base pairing. Despite such potential, the feasibility of DNA-based architectures for practical applications in biomedicine has been queried due to processing and cost constraints. In this context, the enzymatic amplification techniques can allow rapid synthesis and effective modification of DNA with specific sequences in aqueous media in a cost-effective way.


In recent work, I have shown a few examples of using isothermal rolling circle amplification (RCA) to develop new fluorescent assays for RNA detection and to construct functional DNA particles for intracellular protein delivery. In the first study, I co-employed functional nanoparticles, enzyme-triggered amplification, and RCA to amplify sensor responses, achieving ultrasensitive and selective detection of nucleic acids. On the basis of the underlying mechanism of RCA, I have also developed a simple, generic, and effective way to encapsulate proteins in DNA constructs. In this study, I demonstrated that a wide range of bioactive proteins, including enzymes, can be simultaneously associated with the growing DNA strands and inorganic crystals during the reaction, leading to the direct entrapment of proteins into three-dimensional DNA-inorganic hybrid constructs while retaining the activity of protein payloads. These RCA-inspired approaches represent a promising opportunity to develop new functional DNA materials that can substantially advance the applications of nucleic acids in biomedical research.