This laboratory is currently focusing on three major areas of research: 1) rapid detection and imaging of bacterial infection, especially antibiotics-resistant bacteria and mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), 2) understanding and imaging tumor response to treatment, and 3) imaging-guided tumor resection. Towards these goals, we are developing new molecular probes and imaging strategies to image and interrogate a broad range of molecular targets, from enzymes like hydrolases (beta-lactamases), proteases (such as caspases and MMPs), DNA polymerases (PARP-1), to reactive oxygen species (ROS). We also exploring nanoparticles and developing nanotechnologies in order to improve the sensitivity and specificity of detection and imaging. Through innovation in probe chemistry and nanotechnology, we strive to provide new solutions to these important problems in global health, cancer biology and therapy.
My lab focuses on the use of chemical probes to inhibit and image hydrolases to study their functions in human diseases. Our primary focus areas are cancer and infectious diseases. Currently, we have projects to develop fluorescent probes for cancer proteases for applications to fluorescence-guided surgery as well as projects to image hydrolase targets in bacteria for detection of biofilms and sites of infection in disease conditions such as endocarditis.
This laboratory aims to build imaging instrumentation and chemical tools that can visualize the complex behavior of biomolecules in living subjects. The expression patterns of many biomolecules (e.g.: signaling factors and posttranslational modifications) changes in time, space and local environments. Understanding these changes in the context of living tissues may give rise to new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, and can further reveal new molecular mechanisms not otherwise visible in traditional biochemical studies. We have pioneered Photoacoustic molecular imaging and are actively developing new optical imaging instrumentation to visualize these complex behaviors in cancer and ophthalmic disease animal models. Our research efforts span both basic science and clinically translatable work.