The overall objective of this laboratory is to develop novel molecular imaging probes and techniques for non-invasive detection of cancer and its metastasis at the earliest stage, so that cancer can be cured or transformed into a chronic, manageable disease. The techniques developed in my research will allow a close examination of the molecular, metabolic and physiological characteristics of cancers and their responses to therapy. In order to achieve this goal, my lab is aimed to identify novel cancer biomarkers with significant clinical relevance, develop new chemistry for probes preparation, and validate new strategies for probes high-throughput screening.
This laboratory is focusing on the development of non-invasive imaging methods to image tumor-specific molecular markers such as mRNAs of oncogenes and over-expressed proteinases for better understanding of tumor biology. Towards this goal, we take an interdisciplinary approach of combining synthetic and physical organic chemistry, molecular biology with imaging techniques such as fluorescence microscopy, whole body fluorescence/bioluminescence imaging. A recent emphasis in the lab is to apply nanotechnology to develop novel nanosensors for bioimaging and tumor detection.
My laboratory is developing imaging assays to monitor fundamental cellular/molecular events in living subjects including patients. Technologies such as positron emission tomography (PET), optical (fluorescence, bioluminescence, Raman), ultrasound, and photoacoustic imaging are all under active investigation.
Imaging agents for multiple modalities including small molecules, engineered proteins, and nanoparticles are under development and being clinically translated. Our goals are to detect cancer early and to better manage cancer through the use of both in vitro diagnostics and molecular imaging. Strategies are being tested in small animal models and are also being clinically translated.
Our NIH-funded team of basic science researchers and physician scientists develops novel imaging solutions for pediatric patients with the goal to tackle significant problems encountered in clinical practice. We have extensive expertise in pre-clinical development and clinical translation of novel imaging technologies at the intersection of cell biology, nanomedicine and medical imaging: We developed “one stop” imaging tests for pediatric cancer staging, theranostic nanoparticles for cancer therapy without side effects, and patented techniques for stem cell tracking in patients. We recently initiated a collaborative program with 20 faculty from 9 Departments, who develop an imaging test for prediction and early treatment of tissue injuries after chemotherapy (PREDICT). Over the past 10 years, our team members received 77 honors and awards.