Dr. David Ng

David received his B.Sc. degree in Chemistry with first class honours at the National University of Singapore in 2009. In 2010, he accepted a scholarship offered by the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) and moved to Ulm under the supervision of Prof. Tanja Weil. David graduated with summa cum laude in 2014 and worked as a junior group leader in the Institute of Organic Chemistry III at Ulm University. He subsequently moved to the MPI-P and leads the life-like nanosystems group by using synthetic chemistry to control complex biohybrid architectures. In 2019, he is featured as one of the emerging “key figures that will shape the future of research at the interface of chemistry and biology” in the ChemBioTalents issue (Wiley VCH).

Research Interest

Chemistry of Self-Assembly in Living Systems

Self-organization in Nature is a fascinating phenomenon where molecules form transient supramolecular or dynamic bonds on demand. In this area, we focus extensively on designing molecules that self-assembles within a living environment i.e. in a cell. This involves the understanding of the biological environment and the necessary triggers in order to control, both time and location, of the assembly process. By creating synthetic architectures within the living cell, we hope to derive nanostructures that would provide complementary functions in biology.


Interface Engineering of (Bio)macromolecule-Polymer Nanostructures

The core focus of this topic uses the architectural perfection of biomacromolecules such as proteins and DNA to provide a framework around polymer chemistry. Nanoscale structures such as DNA origamis and denatured proteins offer a monodisperse template with pre-determined geometry and chemistry. By programming this orientation of functional group exposure on the macromolecular structure, polymerization reactions can be spatially controlled to map a designated architecture.

In addition, these hybrid structures can be made functional and responsive depending on the chemistry that is chosen for both the polymerization and synthetic motifs. We collaborate extensively to investigate the influence of shape persistency in biomedicine and physiological environments.

Selected Publications

Zhou, Z.; Maxeiner, K.; Moscariello, P.; Xiang, S.; Wu, Y.; Ren, Y.; Whitfield, C.; Xu, L.; Kaltbeitzel, A.; Han, S. et al.; Mücke, D.; Qi, H.; Wagner, M.; Kaiser, U.; Landfester, K.; Lieberwirth, I.; Ng, D. Y. W.; Weil, T.: In Situ Assembly of Platinum(II)-Metallopeptide Nanostructures Disrupts Energy Homeostasis and Cellular Metabolism. Journal of the American Chemical Society 144 (27), pp. 12219 - 12228 (2022)
Chagri, S.; Ng, D. Y. W.; Weil, T.: Designing bioresponsive nanomaterials for intracellular self-assembly. Nature Reviews Chemistry 6, pp. 320 - 338 (2022)
Winterwerber, P.; Whitfield, C.; Ng, D. Y. W.; Weil, T.: Multiple Wavelength Photopolymerization of Stable Poly(Catecholamines)-DNA Origami Nanostructures. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 61 (8), e202111226 (2022)
Chen, C.; Singh, M. K.; Wunderlich, K.; Harvey, S.; Whitfield, C.; Zhou, Z.; Wagner, M.; Landfester, K.; Lieberwirth, I.; Fytas, G. et al.; Kremer, K.; Mukherji, D.; Ng, D. Y. W.; Weil, T.: Polymer cyclization for the emergence of hierarchical nanostructures. Nature Communications 12, 3959 (2021)
Pieszka, M.; Han, S.; Volkmann, C.; Graf, R.; Lieberwirth, I.; Landfester, K.; Ng, D. Y. W.; Weil, T.: Controlled Supramolecular Assembly Inside Living Cells by Sequential Multistaged Chemical Reactions. Journal of the American Chemical Society 142 (37), pp. 15780 - 15789 (2020)
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