Kristopher Kilian

Kristopher Kilian

Kristopher Kilian

B.S. (1999) M.S. (2003) University of Washington, Ph.D. (2007) UNSW, MRACI CChem

Associate Professor, ARC Future Fellow and Scientia Fellow, School of Chemistry and School of Materials Science and Engineering

Contact details

Phone: +61 2 9385 6998


Hilmer Building 740

Kensington, UNSW 2052

Biographical Details

Graduate of the University of New South Wales (Ph.D. 2007). Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Chicago (2008-2011). Assistant Professor (2011-2017), Associate Professor (2017-2018), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. UNSW Scientia Fellow (2018).

ARC Future Fellowship (2019). PLuS Alliance Fellowship (2019). Young Innovator of Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering, Biomedical Engineering Society (2017). List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2015, 2016). NSF CAREER Award, National Science Foundation (2015). Kavli Fellow, 19th German-American Frontiers of Science Symposium (2014). Engineering Council Award for Excellence in Advising, College of Engineering, UIUC (2013). Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA), National Institutes of Health (2009). Australian Museum Eureka Prize Finalist (2009). U Committee Prize, UNSW, “Best Science PhD thesis in 2007” (2008). Cornforth Medal, “Best PhD thesis submitted in a branch of chemistry, chemical science or chemical technology in Australia”, The Royal Australian Chemical Institute (2008)

Research Interests

My group is interested in how the chemistry of materials influence the behaviour of mammalian cells. Inspired by biological materials, we integrate nano- and micro- fabrication techniques with “hard” and “soft” materials to mimic the physical and chemical properties of the cell and tissue microenvironment. Much of our work is motivated by a dynamic model of the microenvironment where the interplay between chemical cues (extracellular matrix composition), physical cues (geometry, mechanics and topography) and biological cues (paracrine and juxtacrine signals) guides mechanochemical signalling to influence cellular identity, fate and function. Our broad aims are to:

1) Develop synthetic model systems to address fundamental questions in cell biology.

2) Use the output from 1 to design clinically relevant biomaterials that direct a functional outcome (e.g., cell differentiation and de-differentiation).

Our work is necessarily interdisciplinary; trainees will gain practical experience in materials chemistry, fabrication (bioprinting, lithography), and characterization (SEM, XPS, etc.) Specific programs ongoing in our laboratory include:

  • Mechanochemistry in hydrogels
  • Dynamic soft materials
  • High-throughput biomaterials discovery
  • Nano- and Micro-engineered materials
  • Model tumour microenvironments
  • Cell and tissue engineering

More information on current projects can be found at our research group website Laboratory for Bioinspired Interfacial Design

Selected Publications

Sarith R Bandara, Thomas G Molley, Hojun Kim, Priyalini A Bharath, Kristopher A Kilian, Cecilia Leal, The structural fate of lipid nanoparticles in the extracellular matrix, Materials Horizons, 2020, 7, 125-134

Phuong Le, Sung Jun Lim, Brian C. Baculis, Hee Jung Chung, Kristopher A. Kilian, Andrew M. Smith, Counting growth factors in single cells with infrared quantum dots to measure discrete stimulation distributions, Nature Communications, 2019, 10, 909

Chelsea Anorma, Jamila Hedhli, Thomas E. Bearrood, Nicholas W. Pino, Sarah H. Gardner, Hiroshi Inaba, Pamela Zhang, Yanfen Li, Daven Feng, Sara E. Dibrell, Kristopher A. Kilian, Lawrence W. Dobrucki, Timothy M. Fan, Jefferson Chan, Surveillance of Cancer Stem Cell Plasticity Using an Isoform-Selective Fluorescent Probe for Aldehyde Dehydrogenase 1A1, ACS Central Science, 2018, 4 (8), 1045-1055

Junmin Lee, Amr A. Abdeen, Jamila Hedhli, Kathryn L. Wycislo, Iwona Dobrucka, Timothy M. Fan, Lawrence W. Dobrucki, and Kristopher A. Kilian, Melanoma topology reveals a stem-like phenotype that promotes angiogenesis, Science Advances, 2017, 3(10), e1701350.

Douglas Zhang, Junmin Lee, Michael B. Sun, Yi Pei, James Chu, Martha U. Gillette, Timothy M. Fan, and Kristopher A. Kilian, Combinatorial discovery of defined substrates that promote a stem cell state in malignant melanoma, ACS Central Science, 2017, 3 (5), 381-393.

Amr A. Abdeen, Junmin Lee, N. Ashwin Bharadwaj, Randy H. Ewoldt, and Kristopher A. Kilian, Magnetoactive hydrogels for temporal modulation of stem cell activity, Advanced Healthcare Materials, 2016, 5 (19), 2536-2544.

Junmin Lee, Meredith N. Silberstein, Amr A. Abdeen, Sang Yup Kim, and Kristopher A. Kilian, Mechanochemical functionalization of disulfide linked hydrogels, Materials Horizons, 2016, 3, 447-451

Junmin Lee, Amr A. Abdeen, Kathryn L. Wycislo, Timothy M. Fan, and Kristopher A. Kilian, Interfacial geometry dictates cancer cell tumorigenicity, Nature Materials, 2016, 15, 856-862.

Amr A. Abdeen, Junmin Lee, Samuel H Mo, and Kristopher A. Kilian, Spatially defined stem cell-laden hydrogel islands for directing endothelial tubulogenesis, Journal of Materials Chemistry B, 2015, 3, 7896-7898.

Junmin Lee, Amr A. Abdeen, Xin Tang, Taher A. Saif, and Kristopher A. Kilian, Geometric guidance of integrin mediated traction stress during stem cell differentiation, Biomaterials, 2015, 69, 174-183.

Joshua M. Grolman, Douglas Zhang, Andrew M. Smith, Jeffrey S. Moore, and Kristopher A. Kilian, Rapid 3D extrusion of synthetic tumor microenvironments, Advanced Materials, 2015, 27 (37), 5512-5517.

Amr A. Abdeen, Jared B. Weiss, Junmin Lee, and Kristopher A. Kilian, Matrix composition and mechanics directs pro-angiogenic signaling from mesenchymal stem cells, Tissue Engineering, Part A, 2014, 20 (19-20), 2737-2745.

Junmin Lee, Amr A. Abdeen, Douglas Zhang, and Kristopher A. Kilian, Directing stem cell fate on hydrogel substrates by controlling cell geometry, matrix mechanics and adhesion ligand composition, Biomaterials, 2013, 34, 8140-8148.

Kristopher A. Kilian and Milan Mrksich, Directing Stem Cell Fate by Controlling the Affinity and Density of Ligand-Receptor Interactions at the Biomaterials Interface, Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed., 2012, 51 (20), 4891-4895.

Kristopher A. Kilian, Branimir Bugarija, Bruce T. Lahn and Milan Mrksich, Geometric cues for directing the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2010, 107 (11), 4872-4877.

Kristopher A. Kilian, Leo M. H. Lai, Astrid Megenau, Sian Cartland, Till Böcking, Katharina Gaus, Nick Di Giorlamo, Michael Gal, and J. Justin Gooding, Smart tissue culture: in situ monitoring of cellular secretion with nanostructured photonic crystals, Nano Letters, 2009, 9 (5), 2021-2025.

Michele Cleary, Kristopher Kilian, Yanqun Wang, Jeff Bradshaw, Guy Cavet, Wei Ge, Amit Kulkarni, Patrick J. Paddison, Kenneth Chang, Nihar Sheth, Eric Leproust, Ernest M. Coffey, Julja Burchard, W. Richard McCombie, Peter Linsley and Gregory J. Hannon, Production of Complex Nucleic Acid Libraries Using Highly Parallel in situ Oligonucleotide Synthesis, Nature Methods, 2004, 1 (3), 241-248.

Complete list of publications for K.A. Kilian