• Yuwei Gu
  • Assistant Professor
  • Research Synopsis: Leveraging organic/polymer synthesis and biomacromolecular engineering to design and synthesize macromolecular systems that possess characteristics conventionally unique to proteins.
  • Phone: (848) 445-7030




Protein-Inspired Macromolecular Biomimicry

Yuwei Gu Research PageCentered around the three major domains of macromolecular chemistry—synthetic polymers, nucleic acids, and proteins, the Gu group aims to bridge the formidable gap between synthetic polymers and the workhorses of life—proteins. Inspired by how proteins perform sophisticated functions at the macromolecular level, we combine organic/polymer synthesis, biomacromolecular engineering, and polymer physics to design and synthesize macromolecular systems that possess characteristics conventionally unique to proteins. Through this “protein-inspired macromolecular biomimicry” approach, we aim to gain new knowledge about living matter, and more importantly, to develop macromolecular systems that mimic, interface, and even surpass those found in biological systems, ultimately providing solutions to challenges associated with sustainability, therapeutics, advanced biomaterials, and biomimetic active matters.


Selected Publications

Gu, Y.; Alt, E. A.; Wang, H.; Li, X.; Willard, A. P.; Johnson, J. A., “Photoswitching topology in polymer networks with metal–organic cages as crosslinks”, Nature 2018, 560, 65-69.

Gu, Y.; Distler, M. E.; Cheng, H. F.; Huang, C.; Mirkin, C. A., “A general DNA-gated hydrogel strategy for selective transport of chemical and biological cargos”, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2021, 143, 17200-17208.

Gu, Y.†; Zhao, J.†; Johnson, J. A., “Polymer networks: from plastics and gels to porous frameworks”, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2020, 132, 5054-5085.

Gu, Y.†; Huang, M.†; Zhang, W.†; Pearson, M. A.; Johnson, J. A., “PolyMOF nanoparticles: dual roles of a multivalent polyMOF ligand in size control and surface functionalization”, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2019, 58, 16676-16681.

Gu, Y.†; Zhao, J.†; Johnson, J. A., “A (macro)molecular-level understanding of polymer network topology”, Trends Chem. 2019, 1, 318-334.

Gu, Y.; Schauenburg, D.; Bode, J. W.; Johnson, J. A., “Leaving groups as traceless topological modifiers for the synthesis of topologically isomeric polymer networks”, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 14033-14037.

Gu, Y.; Kawamoto, K.; Zhong, M.; Chen, M.; Hore, M. J.A.; Jordan, A. M.; Korley, L. T.J.; Olsen, B. D.; Johnson, J. A., “Semibatch monomer addition as a general method to tune and enhance the mechanics of polymer networks via loop-defect control”, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2017, 114, 4875-4880.

Chen, M.†; Gu, Y.†; Singh, A.; Zhong, M.; Jordan, A. M.; Biswas, S.; Korley, L. T.J.; Balazs, A. C.; Johnson, J. A., “Living additive manufacturing: transformation of parent gels into diversely functionalized daughter gels made possible by visible light photoredox catalysis”, ACS Cent. Sci. 2017, 3, 124-134.

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