We are interested in creating new molecular imaging tools to study biomolecules in living subjects. This entails the creation of new optical imaging instrumentation, synthesis of new molecular imaging agents, and the validation of these tools on diseased animal models.

Photoacoustic Molecular Imaging

We pioneered a molecular imaging technique where short light pulses are converted into ultrasound waves by an absorbing nanoparticle agent.  The particle is molecularly targeted to a tumor-associated biomarker (e.g., avb3 integrin) such that upon intravenous injection to a tumor-bearing animal, the nanoparticles will create an image representing the biomarker distribution in the tumor. This technique provides significantly improved spatial resolution and depth of penetration compared to conventional optical imaging.

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Translational Cancer Imaging

We are interested in developing novel imaging techniques for identifying and characterizing a tumor in clinical settings. We have recently developed a novel nanoparticle which produces MRI, Photoacoustic and Raman spectroscopy signals (triple-modality) and exhibit excellent tumor-targeting capability upon intravenous injection to a tumor-bearing mouse. These nanoparticles accurately stain the tumor margins, including the small finger-like protrusions that typically extend off brain tumors to surrounding healthy tissues.

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Molecular Ocular Imaging

Current ocular imaging modalities provide primarily structural information. We aim to develop new molecular imaging techniques to visualize the molecular expression of various key biomarkers in living eyes under health and disease states. We have recently demonstrated that photoacoustic imaging can provide 3D imaging of the posterior eye (retina and choroid layers) with high penetration and SNR (see picture).

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