Dr Zhan Yuin Ong

Dr Zhan Yuin Ong


  • Dec 2021 – Present: Associate Professor in Health Engineering, School of Physics and Astronomy & Leeds Institute of Medical Research at St. James’s, School of Medicine, University of Leeds
  • 2016 – 2021: University Academic Fellow (Assistant Professor), University of Leeds
  • 2014 – 2016: Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie International Incoming Fellow, Imperial College London
  • 2012 – 2014 : Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, A*STAR, Singapore 
  • 2007 – 2012 : PhD in Pharmaceutical Science, National University of Singapore


  • PDRA mentoring scheme coordinator

Research interests

I have a strong interest in the development and translation of innovative biomaterials to advance the therapy of human diseases with unmet clinical needs. The research in my group focuses on the synthesis of well-defined and biocompatible hybrid organic-inorganic nanoparticles, and their directed assembly into more complex micron-scale materials with unique functionalities for drug delivery and bioimaging applications. Our approach is highly interdisciplinary in nature, encompassing materials synthesis and characterisation, anticancer and antimicrobial evaluation, biocompatibility testing, with key clinical collaborations to address global health challenges. Current research areas include:

Synthesis of Multifunctional Hybrid Organic-Inorganic Nanomaterials. We are interested in developing simple and scalable synthetic methods to obtain highly uniform porous silica nanoparticles and anisotropic gold nanoparticles with desirable built-in functionalities such as cancer targeting, and stimuli-responsive properties for biomedical applications.

Targeted Drug Delivery and Photothermal Therapy of Cancer. We utilise the multifunctional nanomaterials for drug loading and release in response to changes in the tumour microenvironment. The intrinsic cancer targeting properties of the hybrid nanoparticles are evaluated using human cancer cells. With the ability to promote selective uptake of nanoparticles by cancer cells but not in non-cancerous cells, enhanced anticancer drug delivery and photothermal ablation of cancer cells are observed.

Stimuli-responsive Delivery of Antimicrobial Agents to Overcome Antimicrobial Resistance. We are interested to enhance the bioavailability of novel antimicrobial agents such as antimicrobial peptides through unique formulation approaches. By harnessing the strong optical properties of gold nanoparticles, triggered release of antimicrobial agents from hydrogels can be achieved in a spatial and temporal manner.

I currently lead a team of 1 postdoc and 3 PhD student researchers (as lead supervisor). I am also the co-supervisor for 2 PhD students. 

Funders: EPSRC, Royal Society, British Council.

We welcome enquiries from talented and enthusiastic researchers to join us! We have successfully supported PhD studentship applications from various funders such as the China Scholarship Council-University of Leeds and Commonwealth PhD scholarships. Postdoctoral fellowship applicants (e.g. to RAEng, Newton International Fellowships, Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie Actions) are also encouraged to get in touch early. 

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://eps.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD in Pharmaceutical Science
  • BSc (Pharm) (Hons)

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
  • Royal Society of Chemistry (MRSC)
  • Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Society of Applied Microbiology
  • British Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy

Student education

I am a personal academic tutor for Physics undergraduate students and lecture at Levels 1 and 5. I also supervise BSc, MPhys, Medicine MRes, and PhD students.

Research groups and institutes

  • Molecular and Nanoscale Physics

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>