The Zhang Group

@ Northeastern University  

Research Synposis

Our group develops macromolecular systems to provide answers to important questions in biology and medicine.  Our current focus is on integrating polymer chemistry with oligonucleotides and other bioactive building blocks in order to make them better biopharmaceuticals.

read more


graduate students and postdoc fellows

We are always looking for talented graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Please do reach out if you are interested!


Amazing photos of our new lab


The result is worth the wait! For comparison

read more

Inhalable bottlebrush polymer bioconjugates as vectors for efficient pulmonary delivery of oligonucleotides


Yang Fang, et al

ACS Nano, 2024, 18, 592

read more

RECENT publications

A mechanistic study on the cellular uptake, intracellular trafficking, and antisense gene regulation of bottlebrush polymer-conjugated oligonucleotides

Lei Zhang, Yuyan Wang, et al

RSC Chemical Biology, 2023,  4, 138

read more

Enabling safer, more potent oligonucleotide therapeutics with bottlebrush polymer conjugates

Peiru Chen, Yun Wei, et al

J. Controlled Release, 2024, 366, 44

read more


GrouP News


(Nov, 2023) Prof. Ke Zhang receives the Kabiller Rising Star award in nanoscience and nanomedicine.

(Sep, 2023) pacDNA has successfully finished Phase I of our Fast-Track award, moving to Phase II!

(Aug, 2023) Peiru has successfully defended her thesis and will join a biotech startup! Congrats, Dr. Chen! An exciting career awaits!

(Jun, 2023) Jiansong has defended his thesis and will be relocating to San Diego! Best of luck in your career! - Your jealous PI.

(Apr, 2023) Prof. Zhang receives an R01 award from NIGMS.

(Mar, 2023) Yang is the first among her class to graduate! Woo-hoo! Yang will be sticking around, as she is the Founding Scientist at pacDNA!

(Jan, 2023) Peiru wins the coveted University Outstanding Graduate Student Award for Research! Congrats!

(Nov, 2022) Yuyan is now Dr. Wang! Congrats! Best wishes to your future endeavors and don't forget to check back often!

(Nov, 2022) Our first pacDNA patent receives an Invented Here! award from the Boston Patent Law Association!

(Aug, 2022) Dr. Dali Wang, who's been with us from 2016-2019, is now Prof. Wang at Shanghai Jiaotong University! We look forward to watching your career take off!

(July, 2022) pacDNA LLC, a spinout company from the Zhang group,  receives a $2.4M Fast-Track STTR grant!

(July, 2022) Dr. Dali Wang's three-year project, "Targeting oncogenic KRAS with molecular brush-conjugated antisense oligonucleotides", is finally accepted by PNAS. The manuscript has to go through three layers of review (editorial board member , NAS member, and normal peer review) - probably the most onerous in scientific publishing. It took us almost a year from first submission. Big congrats Dali!!!

(July, 2022) Yuyan's amazing paper, "Phosphodiester-backboned molecular brushes as aptamer enhancers in vivo", is accepted by Angewandte Chemie International Edition. Awesome job, Yuyan! Congrats!

(May, 2022) Prof. Zhang is promoted to full professor.

(May, 2022) Peiru's paper, "Maximizing TLR9 activation in cancer immunotherapy with dual-adjuvanted spherical nucleic acids", is accepted by Nano Letters. A big paper deserves big congrats!

(May, 2022) Prof. Zhang receives an NU College of Science Service Award.

(Apr, 2022) Prof. Zhang receives the inaugural College of Science Excellence in Research award of Northeastern University.

(Mar, 2022) Yuyan presents in the prestigious ACS Excellence in Graduate Polymer Research Symposium. Congrats on the achievement!

(Feb, 2022) Warmest welcome to Yun Wei as our newest member!

(Feb, 2022) Congratulations to Hao and Jiansong on their joint paper in Macromolecules, titled "Exploring the structural diversity of DNA bottlebrush polymers using an oligonucleotide macromonomer approach".

(Sep, 2021) The paper of Peiru and Fei extends our pacDNA platform to include peptides. The paper, titled "Bottlebrush polymer-conjugated melittin exhibits enhanced antitumor activity and better safety profile", has just been accepted in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

(Sep, 2021) Hanxu Jiang's paper breaks new ground for us in the environmental science front! The paper, titled "Exploring a library of water-soluble polymers as abiotic phytoremediation agents for treating (pseudo)metal ion-contaminated soil", was accepted in Chemosphere.

(Sep, 2021) Congratulations to Hao Lu on  his successful thesis defense!

(Sep, 2021) A second student from our first batch of PhDs, Dr. Fei Jia, is now Prof. Jia at the CAS IBMC! You are amazing! Best of luck to an impactful and rewarding independent career!

(Feb, 2021) Welcome to Jiachen Lin and Tingyu Sun as our newest PhD students!

(Jan, 2021) Prof. Zhang is named a Polymer Chemistry Pioneering Investigator! We wrote a review article for the special issue, titled "Synthetic approaches for copolymers containing nucleic acids and analogues: challenges and opportunities".

(Jan, 2021) Congrats to Yang Fang on her first paper, "Spherical nucleic acids for topical treatment of hyperpigmentation", which has been published in JACS!

(Oct, 2020) Our first PhD graduate, Xueguang Lu, is now Prof. Lu at the CAS Institute of Chemistry! We are so proud of you, and wish you a very productive and impactful independent career!

(Sep, 2020) Yuyan's first paper, "Self-assembled DNA-PEG bottlebrushes enhance antisense activity and pharmacokinetics of oligonucleotides",  is now accepted in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. Congratulations Yuyan!

(Jul, 2020) Xi Kang's paper, "Azide-functionalized nanoclusters via ligand-induced rearrangement", is now accepted in Chem. Mater. Now the crown of Best Visiting Student awaits the next challenger!

(Jul, 2020) Xuyu and Fei wrote a review article titled "Nucleic acid-based drug delivery strategies", which is now accepted in J. Controlled Release.

(Jun, 2020) Prof. Zhang is recognized as an Emerging Investigator by J. Mater. Chem. B., and we wrote a review article titled "Self-immolative polymers in biomedicine” for the themed special issue.

(Jun, 2020) We are extremely excited to received an NSF award from the Division of Materials Research to study the marriage of nucleic acids and polymers!!

(Jun, 2020) We are funded by the National Cancer Institute of the NIH via a new R01 grant to study KRAS depletion in lung cancer using our pacDNA antisense platform!

(May, 2020) Xueguang's last paper in the Zhang group is now published in JACS! It is titled "DNA-mediated step-growth polymerization of bottlebrush macromonomers". Congrats!!

(Mar, 2020) Hui Li and Yang Li's Bioconjugate Chemistry paper is featured as cover art!

(Feb, 2020) Hui Li and Yang Li's paper, "Well-defined DNA-polymer miktoarm stars for enzyme-resistant nanoflares and carrier-free gene regulation", is accepted in Bioconjugate Chemistry! Congrats!

(Jan, 2020) Dr. Lei Zhang from NJUST joined us as a visiting scholar! Our warmest welcome!

(Jul, 2019) A startup company, pacDNA LLC, was founded based upon technologies developed in the Zhang group at Northeastern!

(Jul, 2019) Prof. Zhang joins the Editorial Board of the Cell Press journal, iScience.

(Apr, 2019) Big welcome to our fresh PhD students, Peiru Chen, Jiansong Cai, Yang Fang, and Mengqi Ren!

(Apr, 2019) Xuyu's magnum opus, "Expanding the materials space of DNA via organic-phase ring-opening metathesis (co)polymerization", is published in the journal Chem. Truly exceptional work. Congrats Dr. Tan!

(Mar, 2019) A lone wolf (research-wise) in our laboratory working on self-immolative polymers, Yue Xiao published a second paper in this area, "Functionalizable, side chain-immolative poly(benzyl ether)s", in ACS Macro Letters! Good job Yue!

(Mar, 2019) Our recent paper in Science Advances was featured in News@Northeastern and ScienceTrends!

(Feb, 2019) Dr. Fei Jia contributed another paper post-graduat-ously. Maybe a third one coming too? The paper is titled "Self-assembly of DNA-containing copolymers", appearing in Bioconjugate Chemistry. Congrats!

(Jan, 2019) The Zhang group moved into a brand spanking new lab space in the state-of-the-art ISEC building!

(Jan, 2019) Dr. Dali Wang and Dr. Xueguang Lu published a major paper in Science Advances, titled "Bottlebrush-architectured poly(ethylene glycol) as an efficient vector for RNA interference in vivo". It is our initial foray into in vivo work and we are truly excited about these results!

(Oct, 2018) Xuyu emerged from his thesis defense victorious! Big congrats, Dr. Tan! He is going to work as a postdoc fellow with Prof. Brad Pentelute at MIT.

(Oct, 2018) Dr. Fei Jia, although graduated from our lab already, had another paper published in Nano Letters! The paper is titled "Improving the enzymatic stability and pharmacokinetics of oligonucleotides via DNA-backboned bottlebrush polymers". Good job Fei!

(Jul, 2018) Prof. Zhang was awarded  a "45 under 45" Young Investigator Award by the journal Nano Research! We wrote a review paper, "PEGylation of therapeutic oligonucleotides – From linear to highly branched PEG architectures" for the special issue.

(Jun, 2018) Prof. Zhang was recognized as one of the ACS PMSE Young Investigators!

(Apr, 2018) Yue Xiao's paper, "Modulating the depolymerization of self-immolative brush polymers with poly(benzyl ether) backbones", was published in Macromolecules! Good job Yue!

(Apr, 2018) A major paper by Dr. Hui Li and Bohan Zhang on "Molecular spherical nucleic acids" was published in PNAS! Congrats!

(Apr, 2018) Qiang Sun and Yuyan Wang formally joined our team. Welcome!

(Mar, 2018) Xuyu was selected to present in the "Excellence in Polymer Graduate Research Symposium" at the ACS meeting in New Orleans. Congratulations Xuyu!




more news

Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology


Northeastern University


360 Huntington Avenue


Boston, MA 02115


​​Email: k.zhang (at) Office: 617-373-7089

Last Updated: Jan 2024