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Milan Mrksich


B.S.: University of Illinois 1989
Ph.D.: California Institute of Technology 1994


Henry Wade Rogers Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Vice President for Research 

Research Statement

My group’s interests overlap chemistry, biology and engineering, with an emphasis on the design and synthesis of materials that are biologically active and in applications of the materials to relevant problems in the biological and medical sciences. Much of our work uses self-assembled monolayers of alkanethiolates on gold to prepare model surfaces that are structurally defined, yet that can have complex compositions and present the ligands in spatially-organized patterns. We pioneered the design of ‘dynamic substrates’ that present ligands whose activities can be switched on and off in response to electrical or optical signals, particularly for studies that address the responses of adherent cells to changes in the extracellular matrix. These mimics of the extracellular matrix have led the way to the discovery of novel ligands that mediate cell adhesion. We have also developed robust surface chemistries for preparing biochip arrays and that are compatible with new analytical methods for analyzing the arrays. For example, we have developed the SAMDI method, which uses mass spectrometry to analyze the arrays, and we have extended this method to the first label-free approach for high throughput screening, to the functional annotation of recently sequenced genes and towards an understanding of the networks that regulate protein acetylation. Finally, a recent program is creating defined systems for exploring biochemical reactions to understand the role that localization of enzymes and substrates play in controlling reaction networks.

Selected Publications

Steady-State of an Enzymatic Reaction is Dependent on the Density of Reactant. S. Li, X. Liao, and M. Mrksich. Langmuir 2013, 29, 294-298.

Modular Assembly of Protein Building Blocks to Create Precisely-Defined MegaMolecules. J.A. Modica, S. Skarpathiotis and M. Mrksich. Chem. Bio. Chem. 2012, 13, 2331-2334.

The Mechano-Stability of Isolated Focal Adhesions is Strongly Dependent on pH. K.G. Beaumont and M. Mrksich. Chem. & Biol. 2012, 19, 711-720.

Cancer Prognostics by Direct Detection of p53-Antibodies on Gold Surfaces by Impedance Measurements. E. Prats-Alfonso, X. Sisquella, N. Zine, G. Gabriel, A. Guimerà, F. Javier del Campo, Rosa Villa, A. H. Eisenberg, M. Mrksich, A. Errachid, J. Aguiló and F Albericio. Small 2012, 8, 1962-1969.

Directing Stem Cell Fate by Controlling the Affinity and Density of Ligand-Receptor Interactions at the Biomaterials Interface. K.A. Kilian and M. Mrksich. Ang. Chem. Int. Ed. 2012, 51, 4891-4895.

Discovery of Glycosyltransferases Using Carbohydrate Arrays and Mass Spectrometry. L. Ban, N. Pettit, L. Li, A.D. Stuparu, L. Cai, W. Chen, W. Guan, P.W. Wang and M. Mrksich. Nat. Chem. Biol.,2012, 8, 769-773.

Three-Component Reaction Discovery Enabled by SAMDI Mass Spectrometry. T.J. Montavon, J. Li, J.R. Cabrera-Pardo, M. Mrksich and S.A. Kozmin. Nat. Chem. 2012, 4, 45-51.

Stem Cell Differentiation—Multipotency Retained. M. Mrksich. Nat. Mat., 2011, 10, 559-560.

Enzymatic Synthesis and Properties of Uridine-5´-O-(2-thiodiphospho)-N-acetylglucosamine. L. Cai, L. Ban, W.Y. Guan, M. Mrksich and P.W. Wang. Carbohydrate Research 2011, 346, 1576-1580.

Combining Carbochips and Mass Spectrometry to Study the Donor Specificity for the Neisseria Meningitidis Beta 1,3-N-Acetylglucosaminyltransferase LgtA. W. Guan, L. Ban, L. Cai, L. Li, W. Chen, X. Liu, M. Mrksich, and P.G. Wang. Bioorg. & Med. Chem. Lett. 2011, 21, 5025-5028.

Selected Honors/Awards:

  • 2008 Margaret Etter Lecture, University of Minnesota
  • 2007 Murtiashaw Lecture, University of South Carolina
  • 2005 Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • 2003 ACS Arthur C. Cope Young Scholar Award
  • 2002 R.C. Fuson Visiting Scholar, University of Illinois
  • 2002 TR100 Young Innovator Award
  • 2000 Sara Jane Rhoads and Rebecca Raulins Lecturer, University of Wyoming
  • 2000 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award
  • 2000 Sloan Research Fellow
  • 1996-2001 Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Award
  • 1996-1999 Searle Scholar Award
  • 1994-1996 American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow
  • 1993-1994 Ralph M. Parsons Foundation Graduate Fellow
  • 1990-1993 National Institutes of Health National Research Service Award
  • 1989 University of Illinois Marvel Undergraduate Research Award
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