Hongji Yan

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I am a researcher focused on developing bioactive materials using primarily clickable chemistry, bioorthogonal chemistry, and green chemistry. My very recent research activity has been focused on developing bioinspired synthetic "mucin-like" gels for lubrication and infection prophylaxis such as HIV and HSV, as well as engineered "stable" mucin gels and gel microdroplets for microencapsulation of microtissues.


  • droplet microfluidics
  • hiv
  • hsv
  • hydrogels
  • mucin
  • mucus
  • type 1 diabetes


I am a Principal Investigator and permanent researcher at MCB, UU. Currently, my group is based in the Immunophysiology Laboratory under the leadership of Prof. Phillipson. I received Swedish Research Council-3R in 2020 (Co-applicant, Project manager), HORIZON-EU-MSCA in 2021 (Main applicant), Swedish Research Council-Establishment Grant in 2022 (Main applicant), and HORIZON-EU-EIC Pathfinder Open in 2023 (Main applicant, and coordinator), involving world-class laboratories from six countries.

Throughout my career, I have successfully initiated and cultivated fruitful collaborations with interdisciplinary experts from renowned research institutions. These collaborations have expanded the scope of my research and brought diverse perspectives and innovative approaches to our work.

My focus has been on the fascinating area of mucins, a class of glycoproteins, in biomedical applications. Mucins play a pivotal role in the mammalian immune regulatory system and are the key components of mucus, providing protection and defense to various epithelial surfaces. With their densely glycosylated regions terminated by sugars like sialic acids and fucose residues, mucins possess unique immunological characteristics.

Inspired by the immunomodulatory properties of mucins, my research over the past six years has centered on the development of synthetic mucin hydrogels. These hydrogels have demonstrated remarkable capabilities in suppressing immune cell activation upon viral exposure, acting as potent defense mechanisms. They also inhibit immune cell recruitment and activation, effectively evading fibrotic isolation. Additionally, synthetic mucin hydrogels have shown the potential to suppress the activation of the human complement system, a critical component of the immune response. Furthermore, these hydrogels promote healing and revascularization in critical-size calvarial bone defects in rats by inducing macrophage polarization towards the M2 phenotype.

My work has gained international recognition, with publications featured in prominent outlets such as The Times and Sunday Times, and APF News, Svergie P4 Stockholm.

In addition to my research endeavors, I am deeply committed to teaching and mentoring students at various academic levels, aiming to inspire and support the next generation of scientists.

I am excited to continue pushing the boundaries of scientific discovery and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in our field.

Hongji Yan