image of Yan Mingdi

Mingdi Yan

Professor, Center Director - CPRT

College of Sciences
Chemistry, Center for Pathogen Research & Training (CPRT)


The chemistry of electrophilic azides, glyconanomaterials, antimicrobial nanomaterials, graphene chemistry

Research Interests

Antimicrobials, Nanoantibiotics, New conjugation chemistry, Glyconanomaterials, Graphene chemistry

Our research lies at the interface of Organic Chemistry, Nanomaterials and Nanomedicine, We study the reactivities of perfluoroaryl azides as highly reactive singlet nitrene precursors as well as electrophilic azides in reactions with nucleophiles and dipolarophiles. We apply these reactions in the functionalization of nanomaterials and chemical biology. Graphene functionalization is another focus of our research. We developed robust chemistry to functionalize pristine graphene, and to synthesize graphene nanocomposites. Finally, we are developing new strategies, including nanoantibiotics, to combact antimicrobial resistance.


  • Ph D: Organic Chemistry, (1994), University of Oregon - Eugene, Ore.
  • BS: Polymer Physics, (1988), University of Science and Technology of China - P.R. China

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Fellow (2020) - The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) 
  • Teaching Excellence Award (2020) - Kennedy College of Sciences
  • Outstanding Researcher Award (2009) - Columbia-Willamette Chapter of Sigma Xi
  • Outstanding Mentor (2004) - 2003/2004 Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science & Technology Winners

Selected Publications

  • Yang, X.; Chen, F.; Kim, M.; Liu, H.; Wolf, L.; Yan, M. “On the Reactivity Enhancement of Graphene by Metallic Substrates towards Aryl Nitrene Cycloadditions,” Chem. Eur, J. 2021, doi: 10.1002/chem.202100227.
  • Jayawardena, H. S. N.; Liyanage, S. H.; Rathnayake, K.; Patel, U.; Yan, M. “Analytical Methods for Characterization of Nanomaterial Surfaces,” Anal. Chem., 2021, 93, 1889–1911.
  • Liyanage, S. H.; Yan, M. “Quantification of Binding Affinity of Glyconanomaterials,” Chem. Commun. 2020, 56, 13491–13505.
  • Xie, S.; Sundhoro, M.; Houk, K.N.; Yan, M. “Electrophilic Azides for Materials Synthesis and Chemical Biology,” Acc. Chem. Res. 2020, 53, 937–948.
  • Yang, X.; Yan, M. “Removing Contaminants from Transferred CVD Graphene,” Nano Res., 2020, 13, 599–610.
  • Park, J., Yang, X., Wickramasinghe, D., Sundhoro, M., Orbey, N., Chow, K.F., Yan, M. (2020). Functionalization of Pristine Graphene for the Synthesis of Covalent Graphene-Polyaniline Nanocomposite. RSC Adv.,10 26486-26493.
  • Wu, B., Yang, X., Yan, M. (2019). Synthesis and Structure–Activity Relationship Study of Antimicrobial Auranofin against ESKAPE Pathogens. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry,62(17) 7751-7768.
  • Sundhoro, M., Park, J., Wu, B., Yan, M. (2018). Synthesis of Polyphosphazenes by a Fast Perfluoroaryl Azide-Mediated Staudinger Reaction. Macromolecules,51(12) 4532-4540.
  • Sundhoro, M., Jeon, S., Park, J., Ramström, O., Yan, M. (2017). Perfluoroaryl Azide Staudinger Reaction: A Fast and Bioorthogonal Reaction. Angewandte Chemie International Edition,56(40) 12117–12121.
  • Xie, S., Manuguri, S., Proietti, G., Romson, J., Fu, Y., Inge, A.K., Wu, B., Zhang, Y., Häll, D., Ramström, O., Yan, M. (2017). Design and Synthesis of Theranostic Antibiotic Nanodrugs That Display Enhanced Antibacterial Activity and Luminescence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,114(32) 8464-8469.
  • Xie, S., Zhang, Y., Ramström, O., Yan, M. (2016). Base-Catalyzed Synthesis of Aryl Amides from Aryl Azides and Aldehydes. Chemical Science,7(1) 713.
  • Chen, X., Wu, B., Jayawardana, K.W., Hao, N., Jayawardena, H.S., Langer, R., Jaklenec, A., Yan, M. (2016). Magnetic Multivalent Trehalose Glycopolymer Nanoparticles for the Detection of Mycobacteria. Advanced Healthcare Materials,5(16) 2007.
  • Park, J., Jin, T., Liu, C., Li, G., Yan, M. (2016). Three-Dimensional Graphene–TiO2 Nanocomposite Photocatalyst Synthesized by Covalent Attachment. ACS Omega,1(3) 351–356.
  • Jayawardana, K.W., Wijesundera, S.A., Yan, M. (2015). Aggregation-Based Detection of M. Smegmatis Using D-Arabinose-Functionalized Fluorescent Silica Nanoparticles. Chemical Communications,51(88) 15964.
  • Ramström, O., Yan, M. (2015). Glyconanomaterials for Combating Bacterial Infections. Chemistry - A European Journal ,21(46) 16310 - 16317.
  • Jayawardana Kalana, W., Jayawardena, H.S., Wijesundera Samurdhi, A., De Zoysa, T., Sundhoro, M., Yan, M. (2015). Selective Targeting of Mycobacterium Smegmatis with Trehalose-Functionalized Nanoparticles. Chem Commun (Camb),51(60) 12028-31.
  • Park, J., Yan, M. (2013). Covalent Functionalization of Graphene with Reactive Intermediates. Accounts of Chemical Research,46(1) 181-189.
  • Liu, L.H., Yan, M. (2010). Perfluorophenyl Azides: New Applications in Surface Functionalization and Nanomaterial Synthesis. Accounts of Chemical Research,43(11) 1434-1443.