Dr. Jun F. (James) Liang

School: Schaefer School of Engineering & Science
Department: Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Building: McLean Science Building
Room: Room 518, 507, 509, 524,
Phone: 201.216.5640
Fax: 201.216.8240


Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Engineering

A)  Bacteria Responsive Materials for Bio-Fouling and Medical Device Infections. Any solid-liquid interfaces provide the environment for microorganism attachment and growth to cause bio-fouling. Bio-fouling occurs on a wide variety of surfaces, including industrial or potable water system piping, natural moist surfaces (bottom of boats and docks), living tissues (oral cavity), and biomedical devices, and is a growing global problem. Bio-fouling in industrial water-based process accounts for billions of dollars lost each year. In addition, as the wide use of biomedical devices and implants, indwelling device infections represent life-threatening circumstances account for the majority (> 80%) of hospital acquired infections. Because of the involvement of resistant mutants and biofilms, classical antibiotics are not effective. Current antibiotic impregnation is not an ideal approach which has many unsolved problems including short life-span, narrowed antibacterial spectrum, ineffectiveness towards resistant mutants, and the potential to hasten the antibiotic resistance process. We are working on polymeric antibacterial designed specifically for implants associated infections. Surfaces constructed from polymeric antibacterial can sense bacteria attachment and kill bacteria by inducing autolysis. Biomedical (catheters, stents, orthopedic and dental implants, wound dressing, and antibacterial textiles/) and wide industrial applications of new antibacterial materials (metals and various polymers) are being explored.

B) Therapeutic Peptides. As biologically active molecule sand therapeutics, peptides have some many unique and unbeatable features in comparison with proteins. Bioactive peptides regulate many physiological processes, acting at some sites as endocrine or paracrine signals and at others as neurotransmitters or growth factors, and have positive impacts on human health, including antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, and antitumor activities. Over the last decade, there has been a rapid expansion in the study on peptides, and this is likely to continue. We are interested in new peptide design and delivery technology aiming at developing new therapeutic peptides for wide pharmaceutical applications. The two focuses of our current peptide project are: 1)Long life-span therapeutic peptides. All therapeutic peptides are sensitive to proteases and thus have very short life-span in the circulation which is usually insufficient for peptides to be fully exposed to the target tissue. Approaches such as amino acid replacement, polymer conjugation, and microparticulate encapsulation have been tried. Unfortunately, D-amino acid replacement and polymer conjugation may be associated with dramatic peptide activity drop while microparticulate encapsulations are accompanied by increased peptide retention in reticuloendothelial system (RES) to yield undesired toxicity to specific tissues and organs such as spleens and livers. We pioneered in utilizing self-assembly in peptides design and have successfully developed therapeutic peptides with greatly improved life-span; 2) Cell specific and permeable peptides. Due to the hydrophilicity nature and lack of defined structures, short peptides have no or extremely low cell targeting ability and cell permeability. Current conjugation approaches aiming at the poor cell selectivity and permeability will have dramatically and unavoidable effects on the biological activity of peptides. We have developed a single amino acid modification/mutation approach which can improve for selectivity or permeability of short therapeutic peptides with affecting their biological activities. 

C)  Nano-Technology Enabled Bacteria and Cancer Cell Sensing. Recently, we are working on a nano-patterning technology which can be used in biosensor and other analytic devices in combination with specific molecules (peptides and signaling massagers) for high sensitivity molecular and cell (bacteria and tumor) sensing. Meanwhile, a novel nano-crystalization technology with targeting and controlled release properties is being studied for drugs (anticancer drugs, antibiotics) with poor solubility and limited therapeutic effectiveness.

Recent Publications (2017-2018) 

  1. Liu T., Yang F, Wang X., Liang JF, Adhesive Gold Nanoparticles for Easy and Controlled Surfaces Coating. Langmuir, in press

  2. Tzu-Lan Chang, Xiaqing Zhou, Junfeng Liang. Synthesis and characterization of Ag-Cu alloy nanoparticles for antimicrobial applications: A polydopamine chemistry application. Mat. Sci. Eng. C, 2018, 98: 675-684.

  3. Zhou X, Li Y, Chen S, Fu YN, Wang S, Li G, Tao L, Wei Y, Wang X, Liang JF., Dynamic agent of an injectable and self-healing drug-loaded hydrogel for embolization therapy. Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces. 2018, 172:601-607.

  4. Chang TL, Liu T, Liang JF., The dataset of scanning electron microscope images of silver nanoparticles formed in situ by dopamine chemistry. Data Brief. 2018, 20:1090-1092.

  5. Liang Y, Xu C, Li G, Liu T, Liang JF, Wang X., Graphene-kaolin composite sponge for rapid and riskless hemostasis. Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces. 2018, 169:168-175.

  6. Liu T, Liang JF. Nano-Structured Surfaces from High-Density Grafted Poly(Acrylic Acid) with Liquid-Like Property.Reactive and Functional Polymers.2018. 127, 123-128.

  7. Chen TP, Liang J, Su TL., Plasma-activated water: antibacterial activity and artifacts? Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2018, 25(27):26699-26706.

  8. Zhou X, Liang JF., A fluorescence spectroscopy approach for fast determination of β-cyclodextringuest binding constants. J.Photochem Photobio  A: Chemistry, 2018, 350:23-29

  9. Chang T.-L., Yu X., Liang J.F., Polydopamine-enabled surface coating with nano-metals, Surface and Coatings Technology, 2018, 337:389-395

  10. Voloshchuk N, Chen L, Li Q, Liang JF., Peptide oligomers from ultra-short peptides using sortase. Biochem Biophys Rep. 2017 10:1-6.

  11. Sun F, Chen L, Ding X, Xu L, Zhou X, Wei P, Liang JF, Luo SZ. High-Resolution Insights into the Stepwise Self-Assembly of Nanofiber from Bioactive Peptides., J Phys Chem B. 2017, 121(31):7421-7430.

  12. Zhan H, Liang JF., Preparation and anticancer activity evaluation of an amorphous drug nanocomposite by simple heat treatment., Anticancer Drugs. 2017, 28(6):623-633

  13. Zhan H, Jagtiani T, Liang JF. A new targeted delivery approach by functionalizing drug nanocrystals through polydopamine coating. Eur J Pharm Biopharm. 2017, 114:221-229.

  14. Zhan H, Jagtiani T, Liang JF., Enhanced anticancer activity of drug nanoparticles formulated with β-cyclodextrin. Anticancer Drugs. 2017, 28(3):271-280.

  15. Chen TP, Liu T, Su TL, Liang J., Self-Polymerization of Dopamine in Acidic Environments without Oxygen. Langmuir. 2017, 33(23):5863-5871.

  16. Zhan H., Chang ZL., Liang JF., ”Anticancer Activity of Drug Nanocrystals Decorated by Ag Nanoparticles”.  J. Mater. Chem. B, 2017, 5:2692-2701

  17. Sun, FD, Ding, XF, Xu, LD, Liang, JF, Chen, L, Luo, SZ, A Molecular Dynamics Study of the Short-Helical-Cytolytic Peptide Assembling and Bioactive on Membrane Interface, J Phys Chem. 2017, 121:17263-17275

  18. Chen T.-P., Su T.-L., Liang J. Plasma-activated solutions for bacteria and biofilm inactivation, Current Bioactive Compounds, 2017, 13:59-65


Open Positions:

Postdoctoral and graduate student positions are available in our lab. Motivated students who are interested in our above research projects are encouraged to apply. Special consideration will be given to students with majors in Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Organic Chemistry. Applications will be reviewed as they come in, and may also be reviewed after the target date if the positions have not been filled.


Institutional Service

2013-2015                 Board of Trustee Committee: Student Enrollment and Success

2011-present             Faculty Promotion and Tenure Committee (School of Engineering)

2011-present             Academic Space Task Force Committee

2011-2012                 Strategic Plan Committee, Graduate Student Study Sub-Committee

2011-2012                 Academic Appeal Committee

2011-2013                 Faculty Advisory Committee

2007-present             Faculty Search Committee (Chemistry Department)

2009-present             Faculty Promotion and Tenure Committee (Chemistry Department)

2007-2009                 Undergraduate Promotions Committee

2007-2008                 Coordinator, Stevens Biomaterials Workshops

2006-present             Graduate Students Recruiting Committee (Chemistry Department)

2004-present             Animal Care and Use Committee

2004-2007                 Coordinator, Department Seminar Series (Chemistry Department)

2004-2005                 Animal facility building and animal use license application committee

2004-present             Advisory Committee for Undergraduate Studies (Chemistry Department)

  • NANO 600 Nanoscale Science and Technology
  • CH 189 Seminar in Chemistry and Biology
  • CH 412 Inorganic Chemistry I
  • CH 610 Advanced Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry
  • CH 674 Polymer Functionality
  • CH 497 Chemistry Project II
  • CH 499 Chemical Research II