Dr. Ren obtained both his Bachelor’s and Doctor’s degree from Tsinghua University, with a major in Chemistry. Supervised by Prof. Guoan Luo and Prof. Qionglin Liang, Dr. Ren’s Ph.D work focused on micro-total analytical systems.
After graduation in June 2008, he came to Hong Kong and worked as a postdoc for three years in Prof. Hongkai Wu’s group at HKUST, Department of Chemistry. His research there focused on microfabrication, biomaterials, and microfluidics, and point of care analysis.
From July 2011 to August 2014, he conducted research at Stanford, mentored by Prof. Richard N. Zare in the Department of Chemistry, and co-mentored by Prof. Niaz Banaei in the Medical School. During that period, he continued research on biomaterials, microfluidics, and further extended his research on point-of-care analysis, with a focus on diagnosis and food safety test.
In September 2014, he joined HKBU as assistant professor in the department of Chemistry. In 2016, he joined the HKBU State Key Laboratory of Biology and Environmental Analysis as an academic member. He is also a co-founder and associate Director of the HKAP, and Director of the Research Center for Biomimetic Microfluidic Systems at Tsinghua-PRD. In 2020, he was promoted to tenured associate professor at HKBU. His current research interests center on advanced analytical chemistry technologies, with particular emphasis on creating and applying novel instrumental analysis technologies based on microfluidics and materials engineering.
Dr.Ren is currently on the editorial board of Scientific Reports and Biomicrofluidics. He is also an active reviewer for manuscripts about microfluidics and materials. He reviewed for over 30 SCI journals and is frequent reviewer for Science Advances, Chemical Society Reviews, JACS, Chemical Science, Energy & Environmental Science, Chemical Communications, Analytical Chemistry, Lab on a Chip, Biosensors and Bioelectronics, Journal of Materials Chemistry, Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, Nanoscale, Analyst, etc. He frequently served as adjudicative reviewer for RSC journals and was featured as Outstanding Reviewer of Lab Chip 2016.
Link to Dr.Ren's personal blog
Link to Interview by Sing Tao Daily
Biography (chronological order)
Through last nine years Dr. Kangning Ren has been working on integrated analytical systems. He is particularly well experienced in the combination of functional materials/surface engineering with microfluidic technology to realize new function of analytical devices.
Dr. Kangning Ren got his B.S. in Tsinghua University (Beijing). The undergraduate education of Tsinghua University gave him a solid training in chemistry, physics and engineering. With effective self-learning and practice, he also gained broad knowledge in electronics, automation and mechanical engineering. During his final year thesis work, he designed and constructed equipment for evaluating photorewritable chemicals and used the equipment to investigate the rewriting-lifetime of some new DVD recording materials synthesized by Tsinghua University. With that work he won a 1st class scholarship of Tsinghua University for outstanding work in developing experimental equipment, who was the only individual undergraduate winner of the 1st class scholarship in 5 years.
Dr. Ren joined Prof. Guoan Luo’s group in Tsinghua University in 2003 for his postgraduate research. Prof. Luo’s group is a large group that combines cutting-edge analytical technologies with medical and biological issues, with research focuses ranging from HPLC, MS, CE, microfluidics to natural products, traditional Chinese medicine, modern pharmaceuticals and medical diagnostics. Dr. Ren achieved broad academic background during postgraduate study in Prof. Luo’s group. His first research topic focused on developing a powerful method to efficiently separate the polypeptides from digested proteins for analysis methods such as “Shotgun Method”. He constructed an automated online 2D capillary LC system and proposed a theory called “time matching” to increase the separation efficiency of huge amount of components. Starting from his third year postgraduate study Dr. Ren found his interest in micro-TAS, an emerging field combining several subjects where he could exert his talent in complex science. His work in microfluidics began with a series of work using integrated light sources and sensors to realize micro-TAS for optical detection. He established a new imaging theory for micro-TAS that differs from CCD systems, which inverts the addressing of objects from the detector array to light source array. He demonstrated this theory both in miniaturized imaging system and in high-throughput detection system. He also cooperated in some microfluidic researches involving advanced microfabrication methods, laminar flow, electrochemical detection and CE. During that period, he also got some experience on instrumental analysis (HPLC-MS) and some basic view of diagnostics and pharmaceutics through intragroup cooperation, as well as some knowledge on microelectronics and on environmental science through intergroup collaboration.
Dr. Ren moved to Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) in 2008 to carry out his postdoctoral research. He worked in a group focusing on microfluidics, which is supervised by Prof. Hongkai Wu, a frontier researcher experienced from the groups of Prof. George. M. Whitesides and of Prof. Richard N. Zare. Dr. Ren got abundant experience on microfabrication in the cleanroom of nanofabrication facility of HKUST. He spent his first year on helping Prof. Wu to establish a full platform for microfluidic research; he constructed a programmed multichannel high voltage power supply for CE, two programmed multichannel solenoid valve arrays for pneumatic valve controlling, and two programmed multifunctional microthermostages for temperature controlling. His specially designed equipments offer additional functions for particular applications, e. g., the high-voltage power supply he made has a “current control” function, which can automatically regulate the electroosmotic flow in a certain channel structure. Dr. Ren began to work on new generation of microfluidic-chip material from 2009. He first cooperated in a work using PEG doping to prevent adsorption of proteins onto PDMS surface. Then he developed a method using paraffin wax to modify the PDMS surface to be nonporous, so that the PDMS no longer permits gas or small nonpolar molecules diffusing through and does not adsorb biomolecules. He also successfully fabricated PDMS replicas from PDMS masters using this method. Then he turned to develop a method to fabricate whole-Teflon microfluidic chips. At first he established a high-temperature soft lithographic method that can mold thermoplastics at temperatures as high as 350 °C, with nanometer resolution and high precision. Using that method, he realized a convenient method that patterns Teflon surface for large areas with microstructures to be a functional ice-free surface coating for air dynamics applications. After that he developed a method to thermobond the micropatterned Teflon substrates to be a complete whole-Teflon microfluidic chip. His following work focuses on novel microfabrication and nanopatterning methods using Teflon masters, functional surface engineering of Teflon substrates, flow reactors, concentrators and picoliter-deadvolume on-chip valves out of Teflon materials. He also worked on introducing other functional material to microfluidic devices fabrication. Moreover, Dr. Ren did investigations on spatial-dynamical thermal management in microchannel, ultra-high-throughput fabrication of microfluidic chips and microfabrication of hydrogel 3D structures. Besides, Dr. Ren cooperated with his postgraduate lab mates on various subjects including on-chip electrochemical detection, flow dynamics, novel sample injection methods, micro- and nano- patterning methods, patterning of single cells and 3D co-culturing of multi cell line.
Dr. Ren joined Prof. Richard Zare’s group in Stanford University in 2011 to continue his post-doctoral research, and later became comentord and co-supported by Prof. Niaz Banaei in in Stanford School of Medicine. He is working on bio-imprinting methods and collaborating with groups in Stanford Medical School on developing medical devices and tissue engineering technologies. He investigated the mechanism of the selective capturing effect of the cell-imprinted polymer (CIP) to the template cells. By modifying the surface of CIP with a monolayer of carefully chosen chemical groups that maintained the surface topography at 1-nm scale but reversed the surface chemical property to be similar to the native polymer, he proved that recognition of the chemical pattern on the cell surface exists and plays an important role in the capturing effect. He is now a fellow of SPARK program, developing a method for selectively capturing certain microbes from a clinical specimen using receptors prepared by cell imprinting. Under mentoring of Prof. Zare, Dr. Ren is working with Prof. Niaz Banaei in Stanford School of Medicine, who is an expert on clinical pathology and TB infections and is co-PI in Ren’s research projects. Dr. Ren is conducting research on a novel diagnosis strategy for rapid and low-cost detection of pathogenic cells using CIP thin films. He has a U.S patent pending on this technology. The primary aim of his current project focuses on the diagnosis of tuberculosis infection. He was nominated to Dr. George Rosenkranz Prize in 2012 for his work on this topic. He developed a general strategy to perform the cell-imprinting and cell-capturing with cells that have been inactivated, which eliminates the occupational risk of using virulent bacteria in preparation and utilization of the CIP, and improves the performance of the developed technology. He introduced two groups of functional additives to enhance the performance of CIP in capturing target cells, categorized as “positive mode” and “negative mode” additives respectively. Dr. Ren is employing various microscopic technologies e.g., AFM, SEM and confocal LIF, to investigate the cell-imprinting technology; meanwhile, he is designing special microfluidic devices utilizing hydrodynamic effects to enhance the performance of CIP-based cell sorting.
In September 2014, he joined HKBU as assistant professor in the department of Chemistry. His current research interests center on advanced analytical chemistry technologies, with particular emphasis on creating and applying novel instrumental analysis technologies based on microfluidics and materials engineering. At HKBU he taught courses including analytical process and applied statistics, seperation science, advanced instrumental analysis, bioanalyical chemistry, physical and inorganic chemistry, and materials science and characterization.