Specially-appointed assistant professor Tony Z. Jia

Tony Z. Jia is a researcher at Japan’s Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI), based at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. His research focuses on astrobiology, prebiotic chemistry, and origins of life.


Harvard University 2016, Ph.D. in Chemistry
Harvard University 2012, A.M. in Chemistry
California Institute of Technology 2010, B.S. in Chemistry and Business, Economics, and Management

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Selected publications

Peer-Reviewed Publications (* equal contribution; Underlined corresponding author)

1.     Tony Z. Jia, Niraja V. Bapat, Ajay Verma, Irena Mamajanov, H. James Cleaves II, Kuhan Chandru. Incorporation of Basic Alpha-Hydroxy Acid Residues into Primitive Polyester Microdroplets for RNA Segregation. Biomacromolecules, 22(4), 1484-1493 (2021).

2.     Tony Z. Jia, Melina Caudan, Irena Mamajanov. Origin of Species Before Origin of Life: The Role of Speciation in Chemical Evolution. Life, 11(2), 154 (2021).

3.     Ning Zhang, Shundi Shi, Xiaohong Yuan, Wenhao Ni, Barney Yoo, Tony Z. Jia, Wenjia Li, Shenglong Zhang. “A general LC-MS-based method for direct and de novo sequencing of RNA mixtures containing both canonical and modified nucleotides” in RNA Modifications. Methods in Molecular Biology, Springer (2021).

4.     Tony Z. Jia*, Tommaso P. Fraccia*. Liquid Crystal Peptide/DNA Coacervates in the Context of Prebiotic Molecular Evolution. Crystals, 10(11), 964 (2020).

5.     Kuhan Chandru, Tony Z. Jia, Irena Mamajanov, Niraja V. Bapat, H. James Cleaves II. Prebiotic Oligomerization and Self-Assembly of Structurally Diverse Xenobiological Monomers. Scientific Reports, 10, 17560 (2020).

6.     Tommaso P. Fraccia*, Tony Z. Jia*. Liquid Crystal Coacervates Composed of Short Double Stranded DNA and Cationic Peptides. ACS Nano, 14(11), 15071-15082 (2020).

7.     Irena Mamajanov, Melina Caudan, Tony Z. Jia. Protoenzymes: The Case of Hyperbranched Polymer Scaffolded ZnS Nanocrystals. Life, 10(8), 150 (2020).

8.     Ning Zhang, Shundi Shi, Xiaohong Yuan, Xuanting Wang, Jiachen Duan, Wenhao Ni, Tony Z. Jia, Barney Yoo, Ashley Ziegler, Wenjia Li, Shenglong Zhang. Direct sequencing of tRNA by 2D-HELS-AA MS Seq reveals its different isoforms and dynamic base modifications. ACS Chem. Biol., 15(6), 1464-1472 (2020).

9.     Takuya Yoshizawa, Ryu-Suke Nozawa, Tony Z. Jia, Tomohide Saio, Eiichiro Mori. Biological Phase Separation: Cell Biology Meets Biophysics. Biophys. Rev., 12, 519-539 (2020).

10.  Rehana Afrin, Taka-aki Yano, Tony Z. Jia, H. James Cleaves II, Masahiko Hara. Unbinding Events of Amino Acids and Peptides from Water–Pyrite Interfaces: A Case Study of Life’s Origin on Mineral Surfaces. Biophys. Chem., 260,106338 (2020).

11.  Kuhan Chandru, Irena Mamajanov, H. James Cleaves II, Tony Z. Jia. Polyesters as a Model System for Building Primitive Biologies from Non-Biological Prebiotic Chemistry. Life, 10(1), 6 (2020).

12.  Po-Hsiang Wang, Kosuke Fujishima, Samuel B. Lemma, Yutetsu Kuruma, Tony Z. Jia, Anna Khusnutdinova, Alexander F. Yakunin and Shawn E. McGlynn. A bi-functional polyphosphate kinase driving NTP regeneration and reconstituted cell-free protein synthesis. ACS Synth. Biol., 9(1), 36-42 (2020).

13.  Ning Zhang, Shundi Shi, Tony Z. Jia, Ashley Ziegler, Barney Yoo, Xiaohong Yuan, Wenjia Li, Shenglong Zhang. A general LC/MS-based RNA sequencing method for direct analysis of multiple-base modifications in RNA mixtures. Nucleic Acids Res., 47(20), e125 (2019).

14.  Tony Z. Jia*, Kuhan Chandru*, Yayoi Hongo, Rehana Afrin, Tomohiro Usui, Kunihiro Myojo, H. James Cleaves II. Membraneless Polyester Microdroplets as Primordial Compartments at the Origins of Life. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 116(32), 15830-15835 (2019).

15.  Marjorie A. Chan, Nancy W. Hinman, [and 20 others, including Tony Z. Jia]. Biosignatures in Planetary Context. Astrobiology, 19(9), 1075-1102 (2019).

16.  Tony Z. Jia, Yutetsu Kuruma. Recent Advances in Origins of Life Research by Biophysicists in Japan. Challenges, 10(1), 28 (2019).

17.  Richard J. Gillams*, Tony Z. Jia*. Mineral Surface-Templated Self-Assembling Systems: Case Studies from Nanoscience and Surface Science towards Origins of Life Research. Life, 8(2), 10 (2018).

18.  Enver C. Izgu, K. Anders Björkbom, Neha P. Kamat, Victor Lelyveld, Weicheng Zhang, Tony Z. Jia, Jack W. Szostak. N-Carboxyanhydride-Mediated Fatty Acylation of Amino Acids and Peptides for Functionalization of Protocell Membranes. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 138(51), 16669-16676 (2016).

19.  Tony Z. Jia, Christian Hentrich, Jack W. Szostak. Rapid RNA exchange in droplet based aqueous two-phase and coacervate systems. Orig. Life Evol. Biosph., 44(1), 1-12 (2014).

20.  Katsuyuki Shiroguchi, Tony Z. Jia, Peter A. Sims, X. Sunney Xie. Digital RNA Sequencing Minimizes Sequence-Dependent Bias and Noise with Optimized Single Molecule Barcodes. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 109(4) 1347-1352 (2012).

21.  Peera Jaru-Ampornpan, Kuang Shen, Vinh Q. Lam, Mona Ali, Sebastian Doniach, Tony Z. Jia, Shu-ou Shan. ATP-independent reversal of membrane protein aggregation by a novel chaperone. Nature Struct. Mol. Biol., 17, 696-702 (2010).



  1. X. Sunney Xie, Katsuyuki Shiroguchi, Peter A. Sims, Tony Z. Jia. Single Cell Nucleic Acid Detection and Analysis. USA Patent 10,287,630. Filed March 26, 2019. Granted March 10, 2020.
  2. X. Sunney Xie, Katsuyuki Shiroguchi, Peter A. Sims, Tony Z. Jia. Single Cell Nucleic Acid Detection and Analysis. USA Patent 10,287,630. Filed October 11, 2017. Granted May 14, 2019.
  3. X. Sunney Xie, Katsuyuki Shiroguchi, Peter A. Sims, Tony Z. Jia. Single Cell Nucleic Acid Detection and Analysis. USA Patent 9,260,753. Filed March 22, 2012. Granted February 16, 2016.
Specially Appointed Assistant Professor, Lab Manager
Other affiliation
Affiliated Researcher