Hong, Seonki (홍선기)


Chemistry Materials Science


● Bio-inspired organic materials
● Polymeric biomaterials
● Surface biofunctionalization
● biochip fabrication


Ph. D., KAIST, Korea

Postdoctoral Researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 2015-2017






Lab Website

Our Researches

The challenge in developing adhesive biomaterials is to maintain water-resistant adhesive properties without causing cytotoxicity. As materials scientists, we seek to address this challenge by focusing on developing novel polymeric materials using bio-inspired approaches. In particular, we have interested in designing a variety of polymeric biomaterials by mimicking the unique chemical structures of catecholamines found in mussel foot proteins and plant-flavonoids that show remarkable molecular-level adhesion to tissues in aqueous environment. Those adhesive functional moieties are able to co-join with biopolymers to construct adhesive hydrogels. They also act as a molecular glue that binds substrate surfaces and bio-macromolecules, with promising application for bio-active surface fabrication.

1. Tissue-adhesive hydrogels for biomedical engineering

Hydrogels have several useful characteristics including pre-determined degradation rates, tunable mechanical properties that are similar to those of native tissues, and compatibility with image-guided delivery systems (e.g., injectable). We have interested in developing several types of specialized tissue-adhesive hydrogels for use as scaffolds in tissue engineering, hemostats, injectable markers for CT imaging, and surgical sealants for use after tissue resection.

2. Bio-active surface coatings for therapeutic & diagnostic tools

Mechanical and chemical mismatches at the interface between artificial biomaterials and natural tissues are recognized as a major issue to be resolved to minimize the cytotoxicity and increase the bio-integration of artificial implants. We have interested in utilizing novel nature-driven organic biomaterials (e.g. catecholamines, tannins) on surface coating/modification, particularly, to reduce the cytotoxicity of inorganic nanomaterials such as quantum dots and increase the loading efficiency of small molecular therapeutics released from the surface. The developed coating techniques have also been applied to a wide range of biomedical devices for bioassays; we have worked on developing novel surface chemistry for plastic substrates for point-of-care diagnostics.

3. Diagnostic biochips for molecular profiling of circulating biomarkers

A critical challenge in personalized cancer therapy and precision medicine is to establish a reliable, highly-specific assay to guide treatment decision and assess therapeutic efficiency. Although tissue biopsies remain the gold standard, their invasiveness and limited-sampling often fail to capture the heterogeneity and temporal evolution of tumors. Circulating tumor cells, traces of the tumor-associated cell-free DNA, extracellular vesicles (e.g. exosomes) in the blood can be an easily accessible and minimally invasive surrogates for parent tumors, and look promising as new diagnostic biomarkers. Our research efforts have been particularly focused in developing i) rapid, accurate, and ultra-sensitive biochips for molecular profiling of circulating biomarkers, and ii) simple, highly-efficient tools/devices for biomarkers isolation/purification from complex biofluids (blood, saliva, urine, ascites) in point-of-care setting.

Representative Publications

Seunghwi Kim, Seonki Hong*, “Melanin-Mimetic Adhesive Colorant for Highly Amplified and Concentrated Colorimetric Signal in Spatial Marking of Biomarkers”, submitted

Hong Key Park, Daiheon Lee, Haeshin Lee*, Seonki Hong*, “Nature-inspired protective coating on soft/wet biomaterials by aerobic oxidation of polyphenols”, in revision

Jihyo Park+, Haeram Moon+, Seonki Hong*, “Recent advances in melanin-like nanomaterials in biomedical applications: a mini review”, Biomater Res, 23, 24 (2019) (invited review, non-SCI)

Divya Pathania+, Christian Landeros+, Lucas Rohrer, Victoria D’Agostino, Seonki Hong, Ismail Degani, Maria Avila-Wallace, Misha Pivovarov, Thomas Randall, Ralph Weissleder, Hakho Lee, Hyungsoon Im*, and Cesar M. Castro* “Point-of-care cervical cancer screening using deep learning-based microholography”, Theranostics, 9, 8438-8447 (2019)

Haesung A. Lee, Yanfei Ma, Zhou Feng*, Seonki Hong*, Haeshin Lee*, “Material-independent surface chemistry beyond polydopamine coating”, Acc Chem Res, 52, 704-713 (2019) (invited review)

Seonki Hong+*, Younseon Wang+, Sung Young Park, Haeshin Lee*, “Progressive Fuzzy Cation-π Assembly of Biological Catecholamines” Sci Adv, 4, eaat7457 (2018)[연합뉴스, 2018.09.12] ‘하얀피부의 비밀’ 멜라닌 형성,분해과정 찾았다[서울경제, 2018.09.12] KAIST, DGIST 연구팀, 멜라닌 형성, 분해과정까지 규명