Rein V. Ulijn, Ph.D.

  • Director, Nanoscience Initiative
  • Director, ASRC Sensor CAT
  • Einstein Professor of Chemistry, Hunter College

Research Interests

The Ulijn group are interested in the development of materials and systems that mimic biology’s adaptive properties but are much simpler. These materials (including gels, emulsions, structured surfaces and nanotubes) have potential applications in health care, cosmetics, lifestyle products, food science. These applications are sought in active collaboration with researchers and companies across the globe. The approach is cross-disciplinary and covers the entire range from fundamental understanding to eventual applications and societal benefit.

Job History

  • 2014 – Current: Director of the Nanoscience Initiative, ASRC
  • 2008 – 2014: Professor of Nanochemistry, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK
  • 2003 – 2008: Associate Professor, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  • 2001 – 2003: Post-doctoral Research Associate, University of Edinburgh, EdinburghUK
  • 1998 – 2001: Ph.D., University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK
  • 1992 – 1998: M.Sc., Wageningen University, Netherlands


A. Lampel, S. A. McPhee, S. Kassem, D. Sementa, T. Massarano, J. M. Aramini, Y. He, and R. V. Ulijn, Melanin-Inspired Chromophoric Microparticles Composed of Polymeric Peptide Pigments, Angew Chem Int Ed Engl, 2021, DOI:

M. Kumar, J. Son, R.H. Huang, D. Sementa, M. Lee, S. O'Brien, and R.V. Ulijn, In Situ, Noncovalent Labeling and Stimulated Emission Depletion-Based Super-Resolution Imaging of Supramolecular Peptide Nanostructures, ACS Nano, 2020in press.

S.M.M. Reddy, E. Raßlenberg, S. Sloan-Dennison, T. Hesketh, O. Silberbush. T. Tuttle, E. Smith, D. Graham, K. Faulds, R.V. Ulijn, N. Ashkenasy, and A. Lampel, Proton-Conductive Melanin-Like Fibers through Enzymatic Oxidation of a Self-Assembling Peptide, Adv. Mater., 2020in press.

R. Piotrowska, T. Hesketh, H. Wang, A. Martin, D. Bowering, C. Zhang, C. Hu, S.A. McPhee, T. Wang, Y. Park, P. Singla, T. McGlone, A. Florence, T. Tuttle, R.V. Ulijn, and X. Chen, Mechanistic insights of evaporation-induced actuation in supramolecular crystals, Nat. Mater.2020in press.

D. Kroiss, J.M. Aramini, S. Ragoonath, R.V. Ulijn, and T. Tuttle, Combinatorial Discovery and Validation of Heptapeptides with UTP Binding Induced StructureChemSystemsChem2020in press.

M. Kumar, D. Sementa, V. Narang, E. Riedo, and R.V. Ulijn, Self-Assembly Propensity Dictates Lifetimes in Transient Naphthalimide-Dipeptide NanofibersChem. Eur J., 2020, 26, 8372-8376.

A. Brito, P.M.R. Pereira, D.S. da Costa, R.L. Reis, R.V. Ulijn, J.S. Lewis, R.A. Pires, and I. Pashkuleva, Inhibiting cancer metabolism by aromatic carbohydrate amphiphiles that act as antagonists of the glucose transporter GLUT1, Chemical Science2020, DOI: 10.1039/D0SC00954G.

A. Jain and R.V. Ulijn, Restoring order, Nature Chemistry, 2020,​.

C.G. Pappas, N. Wijerathne, J.K. Sahoo, A. Jain, D. Kroiss, I.R. Sasselli, A.S. Pina, A. Lampel, and R.V. Ulijn, Spontaneous Aminolytic Cyclization and Self-Assembly of Dipeptide Methyl Esters in Water, ChemSystemsChem, 2020, DOI: 10.1002/syst.202000013.
S. Biswas, M. Kumar, A.M. Levine, I. Jimenez, R.V. Ulijn, A.B. Braunschweig, Visible-Light Photooxidation in Water by 1O2-Generating Supramolecular HydrogelsChemical Science, 2020, DOI: 10.1039/x0xx00000x.

H.R. Huang, N.B. Sobol, A. Younes, T. Mamun, J.S. Lewis, R.V. Ulijn, S.P. O’Brien, Comparison of Methods for Surface Modification of Barium Titanate Nanoparticles for Aqueous Dispersibility: Towards Biomedical Utilization of Perovskite Oxides, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 2020DOI:

J. Son, D. Kalafatovic, M. Kumar, B. Yoo, M.A. Cornejo, M. Contel, and R.V. Ulijn, Customizing Morphology, Size, and Response Kinetics of Matrix Metalloproteinase-Responsive Nanostructures by Systematic Peptide DesignACS Nano.2019, 13, 1555-1562.

X. Liu, M. Kumar, A. Calo, E. Albisetti, X. Zheng, K.B. Manning, E. Elacqua, M. Weck, R.V. Ulijn and E. Riedo, High-throughput Enzyme NanopatterningFaraday Discuss.2019in press.

S. Debnath, S. Roy, Y.M. Abul-Haija, P. Frederix, S. Ramalhete, A. Hirst, N. Javid, N. Hunt. S. Kelly, J. Angulo, Y. Khimyak, and R.V. Ulijn, Tunable Supramolecular Gels by Varying Thermal HistoryChem. Eur. J.2019, 25, 7881-7887.

D. Kroiss, J.M. Aramini, S.A. McPhee, T. Tuttle, and R.V. Ulijn, Unbiased Discovery of Dynamic Peptide-ATP ComplexesChemSysChem2019in press.

N.K. Wijerathne, M. Kumar, and R.V. Ulijn, Fmoc-dipeptide/Porphyrin Molar Ratio Dictates Energy Transfer Efficiency in Nanostructures Produced by Biocatalytic CoassemblyChem. Eur. J.2019in press.

D. Kroiss, G. Ashkenasy, A.B. Braunschweig, T. Tuttle, and R. Ulijn, Catalyst: Can Systems Chemistry Unravel the Mysteries of the Chemical Origins of Life?Chem2019in press.

X. Liu, M, Kumar, A. Calò, E. Albisetti, X. Zheng, K. Manning, E. Elacqua, M. Weck, R.V. Ulijn, and E. Riedo, Sub-10 nm Resolution Patterning of Pockets for Enzymes Immobilization with Independent Density and Quasi-3D Topography ControlACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 2019in press.

R.V. Ulijn, and A. Lampel, Order/Disorder in Protein and Peptide-Based BiomaterialsIsr. J. Chem., 2019in press.

M.P. Conte, J.K. Sahoo, Y.M. Abul-Haija, K.H.A. Lau and R.V. Ulijn, Biocatalytic Self-Assembly on Magnetic NanoparticlesACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces2018, 10, 3069-3075.

Panettieri and R.V. Ulijn, Energy Landscaping in Supramolecular Materials, Curr. Opin. Struct. Biol.2018, 51, 9-18.

Kumar, N.L. Ing, V. Narang, N. Wijerathne, A.I. Hochbaum and R.V. Ulijn, Amino Acid-Encoded Biocatalytic Self-Assembly Enables the Formation of Transient Conducting NanostructuresNat. Chem.2018, 10, 696-703.

Lampel, R.V. Ulijn and T. Tuttle, Guiding Principles for Peptide Nanotechnology Through Directed Discovery,Chem. Soc. Rev.2018, 47, 3737-3758.

S.A. Dragulska, Y. Chen, M.T. Wlodarczyk, M. Poursharifi, P. Dottino∥, R.V. Ulijn, J.A. Martignetti and A.J. Mieszawska, Tripeptide-Stabilized Oil-in-Water Nanoemulsion of an Oleic Acids–Platinum(II) Conjugate as an Anticancer NanomedicineBioconj. Chem.2018, in press.

C. Zhang, R. Shafi, A. Lampel, D. MacPherson, C. Pappas, V. Narang, T. Wang, C. Maldarelli and R.V. Ulijn, Switchable Hydrolase Based on Reversible Formation of Supramolecular Catalytic Site Using a Self-Assembling PeptideAngew Chem. Int. Ed.2017, 56(46), 14511-14515.

M.P. Conte, K.H.A. Lau and R.V. Ulijn, Biocatalytic Self-assembly Using Reversible and Irreversible Enzyme ImmobilizationACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces2017, 9, 3266.

J.K. Sahoo, C.G. Pappas, I.R. Sasselli, Y.M. Abul-Haija and R.V. Ulijn, Biocatalytic Self-Assembly CascadesAngew. Chem. Int. Ed.2017, 56, 6828.

I.P. Moreira, T.K. Piskorz, J.H. van Esch, T. Tuttle and R.V. Ulijn, Biocatalytic Self-Assembly of Tripeptide Gels and EmulsionsLangmuir2017, 33, 4986.

Wang, L. Cui, S. Debnath, Q. Dong, X. Yan, X. Zhang, R.V. Ulijn and S. Bai, Tuning Supramolecular Structure and Functions of Peptide bola-Amphiphile by Solvent Evaporation-DissolutionACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces2017, 9, 21390.

Hussain, A.T.S. Semeano, S.I.C.J. Palma, A.S. Pina, J. Almeida, B.F. Medrado, A.C.C.S. Pádua, A.L. Carvalho, M. Dionísio; R.W.C. Li, H. Gamboa, R.V. Ulijn, J. Gruber and A.C.A. Roque, Tunable Gas Sensing Gels by Cooperative AssemblyAdv. Func. Mater.2017, 27, 1700803.

I.R. Sasselli, I.P. Moreira, R.V. Ulijn and T. Tuttle, Molecular Dynamics Simulations Reveal Disruptive Self-assembly in Dynamic Peptide LibrariesOrg. Biomol. Chem.2017, 15, 6541-6547.

E.V. Alakpa, J. Jayawarna, K.E.V. Burgess, C.C. West, B. Péault, R.V. Ulijn and M.J. Dalby, Improving Cartilage Phenotype from Differentiated Pericytes in Tunable Peptide HydrogelsSci. Rep.2017, 7, 6895.

J.K. Sahoo, S. Roy, N. Javid, K.L. Duncan, L.A. Aitken and R.V. Ulijn, Pathway-dependent Gold Nanoparticle Formation by Biocatalytic Self-assemblyNanoscale2017, 9, 12330

Y.M. Abul-Haija, G. Scott, J.K. Sahoo, T. Tuttle and R.V. Ulijn, Cooperative, Ion-sensitive Co-assembly of Tripeptide HydrogelsChem. Comm.2017, 53, 9562.

Schoonen, K.S. van Esterik, Chunqiu Zhang, R.V. Ulijn, R.J.M. Nolte and J.C.M. van Hest, Alternative Application of an Affinity Purification Tag: Hexahistidines in Ester HydrolysisSci. Rep.2017, 7, 14772.

G.G. Scott, P.J. McKnight, T. Tuttle and R.V. Ulijn. Tripeptide Emulsifiers. Advanced Materials 2016, 28, 1381-1386.

I. Ramos Sasselli, R.V. Ulijn and T. Tuttle. CHARMM Force Field Parameterization Protocol for Self-assembling Peptide Amphiphiles: The Fmoc Moiety. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys.2016, 18, 4659-4667.

I. Pimentel Moreira, I. Ramos Sasselli, D. Cannon, M. Hughes, D.A. Lamprou, T. Tuttle and R.V. Ulijn. Enzymatically Activated Emulsions Stabilised by Interfacial Nanofibre Networks. Soft Matter2016, 12, 2623-2631.

I. Ramos Sasselli, P.J. Halling, R.V. Ulijn and T. Tuttle. Supramolecular Fibers in Gels Can be at Thermodynamic Equilibrium: A Simple Packing Model Reveals Preferential Fibril Formation Versus Crystallization. ACS Nano2016, 10, 2661-2668.

J.K. Sahoo, N.M.S. Sirimuthu, A. Canning, M. Zelzer, D. Graham and R.V. Ulijn. Analysis of Enzyme-responsive Peptide Surfaces by Raman Spectroscopy. Chem. Commun.2016, 52, 4698-4701.

D. Kalafatovic, M. Nobis, J. Son, K.I. Anderson and R.V. Ulijn. MMP-9 Triggered Self-assembly of Doxorubicin Nanofiber Depots Halts Tumor Growth, Biomaterials2016, 98, 192-202.

J.N. Roberts, J.K. Sahoo, L.E. McNamara, K.V. Burgess, J. Yang, E.V. Alakpa, H.J. Anderson, J. Hay, L.-A. Turner, S.J. Yarwood, M. Zelzer, R.O.C. Oreffo, R.V. Ulijn and M.J. Dalby. Dynamic Surfaces for the Study of Mesenchymal Stem Cell Growth through Adhesion Regulation. ACS Nano, 2016, 10, 6667-6679.

E.V. Alakpa, V. Jayawarna, A. Lampel, K.V. Burgess, C.C. West, S.C.J. Bakker, S. Roy, N. Javid, S. Fleming, D.A. Lamprou, J. Yang, A. Miller, A.J. Urquhart, P.W.J.M. Frederix, N.T. Hunt, B.Péault, R.V. Ulijn and M.J. Dalby. Tunable Supramolecular Hydrogels for Selection of Lineage-Guiding Metabolites in Stem Cell Cultures. Chem2016, 1, 298-319.

R.V. Ulijn and E. Riedo, Learning to ‘Think Systems’Nature Nanotechnol.2016, 11, 824.

N. Singh, M. Kumar, J.F. Miravet, R.V. Ulijn and B. Escuder. Peptide-Based Molecular Hydrogels as Supramolecular Protein Mimics. Chem. Eur. J.2016in press.

I. Ramos Sasselli, C.G. Pappas, E. Matthews, T. Wang, N. Hunt, R.V. Ulijn and T. Tuttle. Using Experimental and Computational Energy Equilibration to Understand Hierarchical Self-assembly of Fmoc-dipeptide Amphiphiles. Soft Matter2016, 12, 8307.

M.P. Conte, N. Singh, I.R. Sasselli, B. Escuder and R.V. Ulijn. Metastable Hydrogels from Aromatic Dipeptides. Chem Commun.2016, 52, 13889.

C.G. Pappas, R. Shafi, I.R. Sasselli, H. Siccardi, T. Wang, V. Narang, R. Abzalimov, N. Wijerathne and R.V. Ulijn. Dynamic Peptide Libraries for the Discovery of Supramolecular Nanomaterials. Nat. Nanotechnol., 2016.

D. Kalafatovic, M. Nobis, N. Javid, P.W.J.M. Frederix, K.I. Anderson, B.R. Saunders and R.V. Ulijn, MMP-9 Triggered Micelle-to-Fibre Transitions for Slow Release of DoxorubicinBiomater. Sci.2015, 3, 246-249.

C.G. Pappas, T. Mutasa, P.W.J.M. Frederix, S. Fleming, S. Bai, S. Debnath, S. Kelly, A. Gachagan and R.V. Ulijn, Transient Supramolecular Reconfiguration of Peptide Nanostructures using UltrasoundMater. Horiz.2015, 2, 198-202.

P.W.J.M. Frederix, G.G. Scott, Y.M. Abul-Haija, D. Kalafatovic, C.G. Pappas, N. Javid, N.T. Hunt, R.V. Ulijn and T. Tuttle, Exploring the Sequence Space for (Tri-)peptide Self-Assembly to Design and Discover New HydrogelsNat. Chem.2015, 7, 30-37.

R.A. Pires, Y.M. Abul-Haija, D.S. Costa, R. Novoa-Carballal, R.L. Reis, R.V. Ulijn and I. Pashkuleva, Controlling Cancer Cell Fate using Localized Biocatalytic Self-Assembly of an Aromatic Carbohydrate AmphiphileJ. Am Chem. Soc.2015, 137, 576-579.

R.V. Ulijn, Molecular Self-assembly: Best of Both WorldsNat. Nanotech.2015, 10, 295-296.

C.G. Pappas, P.W.J.M. Frederix, T. Mutasa, S. Fleming, Y.M. Abul-Haija, S. Kelly, A. Gachagan, D. Kalafatovic, J. Trevino, R.V. Ulijn and S. Bai, Alignment of Nanostructured Tripeptide Gels by Directional UltrasonicationChem. Commun.2015, 51, 8465-8468.

N.S. Singh, M.P. Conte, R.V. Ulijn, J.F. Miravet and B. Escuder, Insight into the Esterase-like Activity Demonstrated by an Imidazole Appended to a Self-Assembling HydrogelatorChem. Commun.2015, 51, 13213-13216.

C.G. Pappas, I.R. Sasselli and R.V. Ulijn, Biocatalytic Pathway Selection in Transient Tripeptide NanostructureAngew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2015, 54, 8119-8123.

K.L. Duncan and R.V. Ulijn, Short Peptides in Minimalistic Biocatalyst Design, Biocatalysis, 2015, 1.

Y.M. Abul-Haija and R.V. Ulijn, Sequence Adaptive Peptide-Polysaccharide Nanostructures by Biocatalytic Self-AssemblyBiomacromolecules2015, 16, 3473-3479.

C. Berdugo, S.K.M. Nalluri, N. Javid, B. Escuder, J.F. Miravet and R.V. Ulijn, Dynamic Peptide Library for the Discovery of Charge Transfer HydrogelsACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces2015, 7, 25946-25954.

S.K.M. Nalluri, C. Berdugo, N. Javid, P.W.J.M. Frederix and R.V. Ulijn, Biocatalytic Self-Assembly of Supramolecular Charge-Transfer Nanostructures Based on n-Type Semiconductor-Appended Peptides, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2014, 53, 5882-5887

S. Bai, C.G. Pappas, S. Debnath, P.W.J.M. Frederix, J. Leckie, S. Fleming and R.V. Ulijn, Stable Emulsions Formed by Self-Assembly of Interfacial Networks of Dipeptide Derivatives, ACS Nano, 2014, 8, 7005-7013.

J.S. Leckie, A. Hope, M. Hughes, S. Debnath, S. Fleming, A.W. Wark, R.V. Ulijn and M.D. Haw, Nanopropulsion by Biocatalytic Self-Assembly, ACS Nano, 2014, 8, 9580-9589.

P.W.J.M. Frederix, G.G. Scott, Y.M. Abul-Haija, D. Kalafatovic, C.G. Pappas, N. Javid, N.T. Hunt, R.V. Ulijn and T. Tuttle, Exploring the sequence space for (tri-)peptide self-assembly to design and discover new hydrogels, Nature Chemistry, 2014, doi:10.1038/nchem.2122.

S. Debnath, S. Roy and R.V. Ulijn, Peptide Nanofibers with Dynamic Instability through Non-Equilibrium Biocatalytic Assembly, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2013, 135, 16789-16792.

headshot: Rein Ulijn

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