Academic Profile : Faculty

Sierin Lim (056).jpg picture
Assoc Prof Lim Sierin
Associate Dean, Graduate College
Associate Professor, School of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology
External Links
Sierin Lim is an Associate Professor of Bioengineering at the School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU). Her research group focuses on the design and engineering of hybrid nano/microscale devices from biological parts for applications in health and the environment. Specifically, her Bioengineered and Applied Nanomaterials Lab (BeANs Lab) uses protein cages as the building blocks and a platform for formulation and delivery of active molecules to the skin. Her lab also explores the utility of protein cages to enhance contrast in imaging atherosclerotic plaques. In her Molecular & Cellular Bioengineering Lab (MCBe Lab), she leads a program in engineering PETase to up-cycle plastic waste to oil, cellulose, and cannabinoids using cyanobacteria, cellulose bacteria, and yeast.

She is currently serving as the Associate Dean of Global Partnerships at the NTU Graduate College. She earned her B.S. in Chemical Engineering and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

Sierin is championing community developments at NTU and in Singapore, particularly women in STEM initiatives. She founded the Biomedical Engineering Society (Singapore) Student Chapter in 2009, Women@NTU in 2018, and Society of Women Engineers Singapore in 2021 of which she is the Vice President (Academic). She is the chair of Promotion of Women in Engineering, Research, and Science (POWERS) program which she co-founded in 2020. In 2013 she received the L'Oréal-UNESCO Singapore for Women in Science National Fellowship and in 2020 the Inaugural Singapore 100 Women in Tech List. She’s a STEM Ambassador for Girls2Pioneers section of the United Women Singapore.
Nature provides us with abundance of biological materials and we, humankind, have been repurposing them to suit our needs. Cells are natural biofactory of materials ranging from protein, lipids, and carbohydrates. SLim Research Group focuses on the molecular and cellular engineering of biological entities (proteins, cellulose, and microbes) to develop technologies for applications in health and environment. We leverage bioengineering solutions to (1) identify novel/enhanced biomolecules and develop technologies that will enable the screening of these molecules, (2) tackle health problems in imaging and delivery of active molecules, (3) develop environmentally friendly methods to mitigate plastic pollution.

Two nature-derived materials that we focus on are protein nanocages and bacterial cellulose. We engineer, reformat, and repurpose them for medicine, molecular electronic, and consumer care applications. To enable the production of the materials, we modify microbes (e.g., bacteria, cyanobacteria) and develop up-stream/down-stream processing strategies for the bioproduction of the molecules.
  • Additive Manufacturing for Biological Materials (AMBM)
  • Ferritin nanocages as programmable bricks for biomolecular electronics
  • IDMxS - Molecular (Protein Engineering)
  • IDMxS - Molecular Thrust
  • IDMxS - Visiting and Travel
  • Institute for Digital Molecular Analytics and Science (IDMxS)
  • Leveraging COVID-19 on Quantifying Our Molecular Senses
  • One-time research stipend for new AD
  • The Broken Rung Problem: Studying the Determinants of Promotability and Intention to Quit in Female Mid-Career STEM Professionals in Singapore
  • The Promotion of Women in Engineering, Research and Science(POWERS)
US 2019/0030134 A1: Targeting Of Melanocytes For Delivering Therapeutic Or Diagnostic Agents Using Protein Nanocages (2021)
Abstract: The present invention relates to protein nanocages comprising a melanocyte-targeting moiety and pharmaceutical compositions comprising the protein cages as well as methods for treating or diagnosing hyperpigmentation disorders or other melanocyte-related disorders using the protein nanocages or pharmaceutical compositions. In the preferred embodiment, the protein nanocage is composed of Bacillus stearothermophilus E2 protein of pyruvate dehydrogenase multi-enzyme complex (E2), with a skin penetrating and cell permeating SPACE moiety, and a melanocyte-targeting moiety of alpha melanocyte stimulating hormone.

US 2015/0329836 A1: Specific Internalization of Nanoparticles into Protein Cages (2018)
Abstract: The invention relates to a method to encapsulate nanoparticles into a protein cage by inserting the nanoparticles into the core through holes. Currently commercially available nanoparticles can be functionalized using the inventive method. The inventive hybrids have applications in biosensing and bioimaging. The use of an affinity between poly-histidine chains and nitrilotriacetic acid as chelating reagent to obtain the inventive cages and hybrid assemblies by the method according to the invention is shown in FIG. 1.
* Singapore’s Inaugural 100 Women in Tech (SG100WIT) List, 2020.
* Outstanding Woman (Biomedical Engineering) Venus International Women Awards, 2019.
* Collaborative Development Awards – Translational Skin Biology, Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Global Partnership Funds, British High Commission, Singapore 2013.
Fellowships & Other Recognition
* Tan Chin Tuan Exchange Fellowship in Engineering, 2016.
* L’Oréal-UNESCO Singapore for Women in Science National Fellowship, 2013.
* Asia Pacific Research Networking (APRN) Fellowship, International Federation of Medical and Biomedical Engineering (IFMBE) Asia Pacific Working Group, 2012. [Only one representative below the age of 40 from each participating country is selected once every three years.]
Courses Taught
BG1141 - Fundamental Cellular and Molecular Biology for Bioengineers
BG4215 - Biomedical Nanotechnology
IH7002 - Global Health: Leadership in Practice (Graduate College & APRU)
GP7002 - Global Sustainability: Waste and the City (Graduate College & APRU)
Supervision of PhD Students
1. Juhi Singh (08/18-) Bacterial Cellulose-based Adhesive Platforms for Oral Disease Management (Co-advised with Terry Steele, NTU Materials Science)
2. Janhavi Devrukhar (02/20-) Near-Infrared Light Responsive Gold and Ferritin-based Nanocomposites for Cancer Photothermal Therapy (Co-advised with Rohit Srivastava, IIT Bombay)
3. Tanvi Kaku (01/20-) Engineerined Ferritin Nanocage for Atherosclerotic MR Imaging
4. SUN Ruoxuan (08/20-) Hyperassembly of Ferritin Nanocage
5. Keerthi PINCHI Mohan (08/21-) Engineering PETase for Secretion
6. Luis LECHAPTOIS (08/20-) Ferritin as Building Blocks for Biomolecular Electronics (Co-advised with Olivier Pluchery, Sorbonne Université)
7. Abdurrahman Adam (01/22-) Development and Optimization of PETase Biodegradation
8. Aakriti Srivastava (08/22-) Bacterial Cellulose Microspheres Production and Applications in Wound Healing