You-Yeon Won

Professor of Chemical Engineering

FRNY 2031
Purdue University
Davidson School of Chemical Engineering
Forney Hall of Chemical Engineering
480 Stadium Mall Drive
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2100
(765) 494-4077 (office)
(765) 494-0805 (fax)
Joined Purdue in 2003
B.S. (Summa Cum Laude) Seoul National University (Advisors: En-Sup Yoon, Hyun-Ku Rhee), 1988 - 1992
Ph.D. University of Minnesota (Advisors: Frank S. Bates, H. Ted Davis), 1994 - 2000
Postdoctoral Associate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Advisor: Anne M. Mayes), 2000 - 2001
Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University (Advisor: David A. Weitz), 2001 - 2003

Research Interests

The overarching theme of our research has been to extend the knowledge in the field of polymer and colloid/interface science to help solve problems faced in improving human health. Specifically, over the past ten years, our research has focused on the following areas: (1) development of polymer-based drug/gene delivery and imaging agents, (2) understanding of the complex behavior of charged polymers (“polyelectrolytes”), (3) investigations on interfacial phenomena of polymers (with emphasis on polymer/polyelectrolyte brushes, and Langmuir monolayers of polymers), and (4) fabrication of complex functional structures by self-assembly of colloids and block copolymers.

In Area (1), we recently developed a concept (named “pH phoresis”) that can be used for improving drug delivery to tumor cells (Journal of Controlled Release 170, 396, 2013). The therapeutic potential of this approach is under assessment. Research in this area has also developed a photo-degradable polymer gene delivery system. This photo-triggered carrier dissociation method helps unveil a role of electrostatics in controlling the nuclear gene transcription process (Biomaterials 35, 1040, 2014). In 2007, our laboratory published a review article on this topic in Journal of Controlled Release (Journal of Controlled Release 121, 64, 2007), which has been cited 229 times as of 6/16/2014. Since 2013, I have been appointed as a Foreign Fellow with the Global RNAi Carrier Initiative Program at the Biomedical Research Institute of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST). I have also been recognized by appointment as a Faculty Fellow for the Bindley Research Fellows & Scholars Initiative Program of Purdue University from 2012 to 2013.

Our work regarding (2) spans both experimental and theoretical domains. Through development of new experimental model systems, we observed a nano-structuring phenomenon of polyelectrolytes, termed “osmotic instability” (Macromolecules 41, 8960, 2008; Langmuir 26, 2021, 2010), which might have important implications for technological applications of charged polymers; the exact origin of this phenomenon is still unclear. On the theoretical side, we derived a self-consistent field (SCF) formalism capable of predicting, in full molecular detail, the local ionization equilibrium in polyelectrolyte molecules (Journal of Physical Chemistry B 113, 11076, 2009).

Inspired by the knowledge gained through study in Area (3), we are currently exploring the possibility of utilizing a fully synthetic material (such as polymers) as a cheaper replacement for costly lipid-based formulations for treatment of respiratory distress syndrome (Langmuir 28, 11555, 2012). A full grant has recently been awarded for this project by the NSF’s CBET Division.

Regarding (4), we developed a method of assembling colloids that might enable economical fabrication of colloid crystals for optical technologies (Soft Matter 4, 1261, 2008); this work has received press coverage in various news publications such as Science Daily, Materials Today, Chemical Engineering Progress, Optics & Photonics News, etc.

For a full list of our journal/book chapter/patent publications, see:

Research Group

Graduate Students

  • Hyun Chang (Kyle) Kim
  • Seong Eun Kim
  • Jaewon Lee
  • Jawahar Khetan (Professional Master's Program)
  • Vincenzo Pizzuti
  • Hansol Wee

Research Associates

  • Dr. Sung Duk Jo (KIST)
  • Dr. Rahul Misra (Fulbright-Nehru Postdoctoral Fellow)

Research Scientists

  • Prof. Sung Ho Yeom (Visiting Scholar - Gangneung-Wonju National University)

Undergraduate Researchers

  • Scott R. Clark (Biochemistry)
  • Sarah Greenwell (High School Student Researcher - West Lafayette High School)
  • Anyue Jiang
  • Jingyi Pan

Awards and Honors

Purdue University Innovators Hall of Fame, 2015-2016
Bindley Research Fellow, 2012-2013
3M Non-tenured Faculty Award, 2008-2009
KIChE-US Outstanding Young Investigator Award, 2007
ACS PRF Type G Starter Grant Award, 2007-2009
Ralph W. and Grace M. Showalter Trust Award, 2004-2005
POSCO Graduate Fellowship, 1994-2000
Graduate Fellowship, University of Minnesota, 1994
Graduation with top honors, Seoul National University, 1992
Alumni Association President Award, School of Engineering, Seoul National University, 1992
Full-Tuition Scholarship, Exxon Chemical Korea Ltd., 1989-1992
Scholarship, Seoul National University, 1988-1989

Selected Publications

"Nano Carriers That Enable Co-Delivery of Chemotherapy and RNAi Agents for Treatment of Drug-Resistant Cancers," V. Tsouris, M. K. Joo, S. H. Kim, I. C. Kwon, Y.-Y. Won, Biotechnology Advances accepted, 2014 (DOI: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2014.05.006).

"Macroscopic Lateral Heterogeneity Observed in a Laterally-Mobile Immiscible Mixed Polyelectrolyte/Neutral Polymer Brush," H. Lee, V. Tsouris, Y. Lim, R. Mustafa, J. Choi, Y. H. Choi, H.-W. Park, M. Meron, B. Lin, Y.-Y. Won, Soft Matter 10, 3771-3782, 2014 (DOI: 10.1039/C4SM00022F).

"A Photo-Degradable Gene Delivery System for Enhanced Nuclear Gene Transcription," H. Lee, Y. Kim, P. G. Schweickert, S. F. Konieczny, Y.-Y. Won, Biomaterials, 35(3), 1040-1049, 2014 (DOI:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2013.10.030).

""pH Phoresis": A New Concept That Can Be Used for Improving Drug Delivery to Cancer Cells," Y.-Y. Won, H. Lee, Journal of Controlled Release 170(3), 396-400, 2013 (DOI: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2013.06.016). See "Nanoparticles, 'pH phoresis' could improve cancer drug delivery" in Purdue News (July 8, 2013).

"The Effect of N/P Ratio on the In Vitro and In Vivo Interaction Properties of PEGylated Poly(2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate)-Based siRNA Complexes," D. J. Gary, J. Min, Y. Kim, K. Park, Y.-Y. Won, Macromolecular Bioscience, 13(8), 1059-1071, 2013 (DOI: 10.1002/mabi.201300046).

Last updated on June 16, 2014.