Endothelial cells and artificial blood vessels. Endothelial cells form the lining of blood vessels. Through transduction of biochemical and physical signals, the endothelium controls blood flow and regulates a wide range of processes, including transport between the vascular system and other tissues. We are using microfluidic platforms, microfabrication tools, soft-lithography, and transwell assays to study how physical and chemical parameters influence the properties of the endothelium. We are particularly interested in the structure and function of the blood brain barrier, and uncovering the physical and chemical processes that guide the spread of cancer.
Quantum dots for biology and medicine. The detection of cancer biomarkers is important for diagnosis, disease stage forecasting, and clinical management. Since tumor populations are inherently heterogeneous, a key challenge is the quantitative profiling of membrane biomarkers, rather than secreted biomarkers, at the single cell level. The detection of cancer biomarkers is also important for imaging and therapeutics since membrane proteins are commonly selected as targets. We are developing quantum dot conjugates for the profiling of cancer biomarkers and tumor targeting in tissue samples, as well as for biomedical imaging in animal models.
Synthetic Biomolecular Recognition. Many important biological processes involve recognition and binding of biomolecules. An example is the lock-and-key binding of antigens and antibodies. Applying the principles of molecular recognition and materials design to develop synthetic recognition platforms can overcome many of the limitations associated with natural systems, and allow the development of a new generation of robust and low cost platforms for a broad range of applications. We are using imprinted hydrogels to study molecular recognition of proteins and enzymes relevant to the development of biosensors, diagnostics, and the development of prevention and treatment of disease.