Kristi Kiick

Kristi Kiick

Blue and Gold Distinguished Professor

Deputy Dean of Engineering

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Email :
Phone : (302) 831-0201
102 DuPont Hall


Dr. Kiick`s group investigates the synthesis, characterization, and application of biologically inspired and biologically produced materials. Dr. Kiick is exploring the uses of protein- and peptide-based materials, and self assembled networks in a variety of diverse applications, such as therapeutic treatments of cardiovascular disease, injectable vocal fold therapies, wound healing, and chemotherapies. These projects exploit the control of polymer architecture afforded by protein engineering methods to permit synthesis of advanced materials for specific applications, and they employ a varied combination of materials synthesis and characterization methods. Protein engineering strategies are used to produce designed protein materials; biochemical methods are employed for protein purification; chemical methods are used to modify the proteins with appropriate ligands. Immunochemical assays, scattering methods, optical microscopy, electron microscopy, and cell culture are also utilized as appropriate to characterize these polymeric systems. The production of these unique macromolecular systems will expedite the development of new biomaterials and therapeutic strategies.



College of Engineering, University of Delaware Named Professorship

Bayer Distinguished Lectureship, University of Southern Mississippi, September 2014

Fellow, American Chemical Society, August 2014

Fellow, American Chemical Society Division of Polymer Chemistry, March 2014

Selected participant, ELATE leadership program, Drexel University 2013-2014

Delaware Bio-sciences Academic Research Award, May 2013

Distinguished Service Award, Division of Polymer Chemistry, American Chemical Society, April 2013

Meeting Chair, Fall 2013 Materials Research Society National Meeting

Trabant Award for Women’s Equity, University of Delaware 2012

College of Fellows, American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering 2012

University of Delaware Research Foundation Mentoring Award 2011

Etter Memorial Lectureship in Chemistry, University of Minnesota 2010

ACS POLY Division Program Chair 2009-2011

Invited 2008 NIH Advisory Workshop: Multivalency

Invited 2007 NSF Polymers Advisory Workshop: Interdisciplinary, Globally Leading Polymer Science and Engineering

Inaugural Stevenson Biomaterials Lectureship, Syracuse University 2007

University of Delaware Research Foundation Award 2006

Outstanding Junior Faculty of Engineering Appointment, University of Delaware 2005

Nomination for University of Delaware Excellence in Teaching Award 2004 & 2005

Francis Alison Young Scholar Award 2004

National Science Foundation CAREER Award 2003

Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation Young Investigator Award 2003

DuPont Young Professor Award 2003

University of Delaware Research Foundation Award 2002

Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Award 2001

Research Interests

Drug delivery

During viral infections, in which many pathogens bind to the extracellular matrix (ECM), delivery from a scaffold promotes localized, sustained release and protection based on the interaction with the ECM. Our goal is to engineer delivery systems that similarly harness ECM interactions to induce high efficiency drug delivery vehicles. To this end, we are producing a variety of collagen-modified nanoparticles and demonstrating their interactions with ECM components for delivery.

Elastomeric materials for regenerative medicine

Inspired by the outstanding mechanical properties of natural resilin, we have engineered a library of resilin-like polypeptides (RLP) for applications in regenerative medicine. Through the introduction of specific biomimetic amino acid sequences, the RLPs are endowed with proteolytic, cell binding and heparin sequestration properties that mimic the function of natural tissues. These RLPs can be cross-linked through small molecule cross-linkers, as well as PEG macromers, utilizing a variety of different chemistries. Our RLP hydrogels have been shown to be highly resilient and cyto-compatible. Currently, we are investigating these materials for vocal fold and cardiovascular applications.

Polymeric nanostructures

The aim of this project area is to use polymer-peptide hybrid materials that show controlled assembly that can be used both as vehicles for delivery and models of protein aggregation. Both peptide and polymer components provide functionality to the materials, which are produced by a variety of controlled polymerization and “click” chemistry methods. Peptide-polymer conjugates, comprising peptides from structural proteins such as elastin and collagen, have demonstrated (triggered) assembly into nanoparticles and fibers. We anticipate great versatility in these approaches, as a wide variety of different polymer and peptide segments could potentially be employed to fine-tune the properties and functionality of the hybrid material.

Hybrid Inorganic-organic nanomaterials

Solution and self-assembly of peptides or block copolymers are excellent ways to build exciting, new materials that can serve as templates for the assembly of inorganic materials. One can build arrays of particles or layers of desired materials with nanoscale precision through simple solution formation mechanisms. Current work is focused on production of layered materials with impact on the field of plasmonics and the production of exotic nanoparticles for impact on environmental applications.

Redox-sensitive hydrogels

Hydrogel nanoparticles (nanogels), composed of hydrophilic polymers that are lightly cross-linked, have a high degree of porosity that allows encapsulation of therapeutics and also high water content that contributes to biocompatibility. The dimensions of the nanoparticles may be tuned to the appropriate size range for passive tumor targeting via enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect while their surfaces can be chemically modified with targeting moieties for active cellular targeting or with functional groups that are available for drug conjugation. In this project, we are producing PEG-based hydrogel nanoparticles via thiol-maleimide Michael-type addition reactions. By taking advantage of the surface versatility of the hydrogel nanoparticles and the reversibility of engineered Michael-type adducts pioneered in our group, the materials represent very promising nanocarriers for targeted chemotherapies.

Representative Publications

Baldwin, A.D.; Robinson, K.G.; Militar, J.; Derby, C.D.; Kiick, K.L.*, Akins, R.E. Jr.* “In Situ-Crosslinkable, Heparin-Containing Poly(ethylene glycol) Hydrogels for Sustained Anticoagulant Release”, J. Biomed. Mater. Res. 2012, 100A(8), 2106-2118.  DOI:  10.1002/jbm.a.34050. PMCID: PMC4096162.

Robinson, K.G.; Nie, T.; Baldwin, A.D.; Yang, E.;  Kiick, K.L.*; Akins, R.E.* “Differential Effects of Substrate Modulus on Human Vascular Endothelial, Smooth Muscle, and Fibroblastic Cells” J. Biomed. Mater. Res. 2012, 100A, 5, 1356-1367.  DOI: 10.1002/jbm.a.34075 PMCID: PMC3351091

McGann, C.L.; Levenson, E.A.; Kiick, K.L.* “Resilin-based Hybrid Hydrogels for Cardiovascular Tissue Engineering”, Macromol. Chem. Phys. 2013, 214(2), 203-213.  Invited paper. DOI: 10.1002/macp.201200412; PMCID PMC3744378.

Baldwin, A.D; Kiick, K.L.* “Reversible Thiol-maleimide Adducts Yield Glutathione-sensitive Poly(ethylene glycol)-Heparin Hydrogels”, Polym. Chem. 2013, 4(1), 133–143; DOI: 10.1039/C2PY20576A; PMCID PMC3677572.

Kharkar, P., Kiick, K.L.*; Kloxin, A.M.* “Designing degradable hydrogels for orthogonal control of cell microenvironments”, Chem. Soc. Rev. 2013 Sep 7;42(17):7335-72. DOI: 10.1039/C3CS60040H. PMCID: PMC3762890.

Li, L.; Kiick, K.L.* “Resilin-based materials for biomedical applications”, ACS Macro Letters 2013, 2(8), 635-640. PMCID: PMC3755776Featured on National Public Radio (Aug 2013), Medical Product Outsourcing (Sept 2013), ACS Podcast (Oct 2013).

Liang, Y.; Kiick, K.L. “Multifunctional lipid-coated polymer nanogels crosslinked by photo-triggered Michael-type addition”, Polym. Chem. 2014, 5 (5), 1728 – 1736. DOI: 10.1039/c3py01269g; PMCID PMC3770267.

Kharkar, P.; Kloxin, A.M.; Kiick, K.L.* “Dually degradable click hydrogels for controlled degradation and protein release”, J. Mater. Chem B 2014, 2 (34), 5511 – 5521. DOI: 10.1039/c4tb00496e. NIHMS 634571; PMCID in progress.

Urello, M. A.; Kiick, K.L.*, Sullivan, M.O.* “A CMP-based method for tunable, cell-mediated gene delivery from collagen scaffolds”, J. Mater. Chem. B 2014, 2 (46), 8174 – 8185. DOI: 10.1039/c4tb01435a. PMCID in progress.  Invited contribution.

Li, L.; Luo, T.; Kiick, K.L.* “Temperature-triggered phase separation of a hydrophilic resilin-like polypeptide”, Macromol. Rapid Commun. 2015, 36(1), 90-95. DOI: 10.1002/marc.201400521. NIHMS679691; PMCID: PMC4552326

Mahadevaiah, S.; Robinson, K.G.; Kharkar, P.M.; Kiick, K.L.; Akins, R.E.* “Decreasing matrix modulus of PEG hydrogels induces a vascular phenotype in human cord blood stem cells”, Biomaterials 2015, 62, 24-34.  DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2015.05.021.

Kharkar, P.; Kiick, K.L.*; Kloxin, A.M.* “Design of thiol- and light-sensitive degradable hydrogels using Michael-type addition reactions” Polymer Chem. 2015, 6(31), 5565-5574.  DOI: 10.1039/C5PY00750J. Invited contribution.

McGann, C.L.; Dumm, R. E.; Jurusik, A.K.; Sidhu, I.; Kiick, K.L.* “Thiol-ene photocrosslinking of cytocompatible resilin-like polypeptide-PEG hydrogels”, Macromol Biosci. 2016, 16(1), 129-138. DOI: 10.1002/mabi.201500305 Highlighted on Materials Views.  PMCID: PMC4834209.

Li, L.; Mahara, A.; Tong, Z.; Levenson, E.A.; McGann, C.L.; Jia, X.; Yamaoka, T.; and Kiick, K.L.* “Recombinant resilin-based bioelastomers for regenerative medicine applications”, Adv. Healthcare Mater. 2016, 5(2), 266-275. DOI: 10.1002/adhm.201500411; PMCID: PMC4754112.

Luo, T.; Kiick, K.L.* “Noncovalent modulation of the inverse temperature transition and assembly of elastin-b-collagen peptide conjugates”, J. Amer. Chem. Soc. 2015, 137(49), 15362-15365. DOI: PMCID: PMC4930074.

McGann, C.L.; Akins, R.E.; Kiick, K.L.* “Resilin-PEG hybrid hydrogels yield degradable elastomeric scaffolds with heterogenous microstructure”, Biomacromolecules 2016, 17(1), 128-140. DOI: PMCID: PMC4850080.

Liang, Y.; Kiick, K.L.* “Liposome-containing hybrid hydrogels for glutathione-triggered delivery of multiple cargo molecules”, Biomacromolecules 2016, 17(2), 601-614. DOI: PMID: 26751084; NIHMSID: 805990

Freudenberg, U.; Liang, Y.; Kiick, K.L.*; Werner, C.*; “Glycosaminoglycan-based biohybrid hydrogels: A sweet and smart choice for multifunctional biomaterials”, Adv. Mater 2016, in press.

Lau, H.; Kiick, K.L.* “Liquid-liquid phase separation as a one-step route to the formation of microstructured hydrogels” ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering, 2016, in press.  DOI:

Li, L.; Stiadle, J.M.; Lau, H.K.; Zerdoum, A.B.; Jia, X.; Thibeault, S.L.; Kiick, K.L.* “Tissue Engineering-based Therapeutic Strategies for Vocal Fold Repair and Regeneration”, Biomaterials 2016, in press. NIHMS ID 814461