Professor Jonathan Choi Chung-hang and Professor Sun Xiankai named RGC Research Fellows

Media Release

Two scholars from the Faculty of Engineering were among the four overall from CUHK to receive awards under the 2023-24 Research Grants Council (RGC) Research Fellow Scheme (RFS) in recognition of their distinguished research achievements.

Professor Jonathan Choi Chung-hang from the Department of Department of Biomedical Engineering received the award for his project, “Preclinical Translation of Spherical Nucleic Acid Nanostructures for Managing Cardiovascular Diseases”. 
Professor Sun Xiankai from the Department of Electronic Engineering received the award for his research project on “Phononic Integrated Circuits for Next-generation Phononic-optoelectronic Integrated Chips”.
Professor Jonathan Choi Chung-hang, Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Project title: Preclinical Translation of Spherical Nucleic Acid Nanostructures for Managing Cardiovascular Diseases
Atherosclerosis underpins the progression of stroke and myocardial infarction, both leading causes of death globally. Gene regulation is an emerging therapeutic approach to cardiovascular diseases, but methods for gene delivery to the plaques are inefficient. Professor Choi’s team bypassed this obstacle by assembling a spherical nucleic acid nanostructure using anti-inflammatory microRNA oligonucleotides. In mouse disease models, this nanostructure not only naturally targets the scavenger receptors on plaque macrophages and endothelial cells to achieve plaque delivery and transfection agent-free cellular entry of miRNA, but also reduces plaques without inducing severe toxicity. Professor Choi aims to elevate the biomedical impact of microRNA nanostructures to manage cardiovascular diseases in large animals, including plaque-bearing rabbit models and pig models with myocardial infarction. This project will offer important insights into the bio-nano interactions, efficacy and safety of nucleic acid nanostructures for clinical translation.
Professor Sun Xiankai, Associate Professor, Department of Electronic Engineering
Project title: Phononic Integrated Circuits for Next-generation Phononic-optoelectronic Integrated Chips
In an information society, the capability of information acquisition and processing is central to human life. Professor Sun’s team aims to develop phononic integrated circuits on a silicon substrate, which enables phononic-optoelectronic integration for the next-generation integrated chips. This project will design all the phononic components and fabricate the phononic integrated circuits without suspended structures. For fundamental research, the developed area of integrated phononics will not only combine the traditional fields of nano-optomechanics and nanoelectromechanics, but also bring them to the level of integrated circuits, which can be used to explore the quantum properties of phonons and the interaction between phonons and other degrees of freedom on an integrated platform. For practical applications, the developed phononic integrated circuits will bridge the gap between today’s integrated electronics and integrated photonics, provide cost-effective solutions for signal processing, and enable multifunctional sensing on a chip.

Professor Jonathan Choi Chung-hang

Professor Sun Xiankai