Materials Science

Materials Science Experts

Xuanhong Cheng

Materials Science


Xuanhong Cheng comes to Lehigh from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, where she has been a postdoctoral fellow since 2005.  She received her doctorate in bioengineering and her master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Washington, and received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Wuhan University, China.  Cheng has a long-standing interest in developing and applying engineering tools, including micro/nanotechnology, chemical and electrical approaches to study biological problems, especially those related to whole cells. Her research emphasis has been on biomaterials, surface modification, surface science, cell-surface interaction, biological microelectromechanical systems (BioMEMS) and global health diagnostics. In graduate school, Cheng studied the surface science of a thermal-responsive polymer, poly(n-isopropylacrylamide) (pNIPAM), including the interactions and function of proteins and cells with pNIPAM, using multiple characterization techniques. By incorporating microfabricated heaters with the thermal responsive polymer, she created protein and cell-patterned arrays for tissue engineering applications. During her postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School, Cheng has focused on the development of novel microfluidic devices for point-of-care and global health diagnostics. She designed microfluidic chips for label-free lymphocyte isolation from whole blood without sample preparation, and integrated electrical sensors into the cell isolation chip for automated, non-optical cell counting. Application of this device was explored for CD4 cell counting in HIV/AIDS diagnostics. Performance of the device was validated using whole blood from HIV+ patients, and a prototype is under development for field testing in Africa.  In addition to continuing her research in clinical diagnostics at Lehigh, Cheng also plans to develop novel tools for fundamental understanding of cell metabolism and function at microscopic scale. The other research area she is interested in exploring is to engineer functional tissues by combining physical, chemical, electrical and mechanical approaches.

Research Interest

Materials Science

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