Research Interest

  • Nano Science and Engineering: We design and make functional materials and structures on the nanometer scale. Examples include multicolor quantum dots (Qdots) for fluorescence imaging, magnetic nanoparticles for MRI, metallic nanoparticles for ultrasensitive detection, and polymeric nanoparticles for targeted drug delivery. Most recently, we are interested in developing multimodality imaging probes by combining different materials into discrete nanostructures in order to utilize the strength of each individual component.

  • Multiplexed Biomolecule Screening & Drug Discovery: Based on the novel optical properties of Qdots and on our abilities to incorporate them into microbeads at precisely controlled ratios, we have developed an optical barcoding technology for massive parallel and high-throughput analysis of biological molecules. This nano-barcoding approach can produce millions of distinct optical codes for simultaneous analysis of genes, proteins, cells, and small molecule drugs.

  • Molecular Diagnostics: It is well known that diseases such as cancer vary both genetically and phenotypically between patients who may have identical type and stage of cancer. Each person's cancer is as unique as his or her fingerprint, which explains unpredictable responses to therapies and poses new technology challenges for tumor characterization on the molecular level. We currently explore the use of multicolor and bioconjugated Qdots for in situ quantitative profiling of tumor markers. In correlation with pathology, the results are expected to have major impact on accurate tumor characterization and differentiation as well as on molecular therapeutics.

  • In vivo Molecular Imaging: Rapid advances in non-invasive imaging are changing the way we visualize molecular dynamics in living organisms. The high sensitivity of nanoparticle-labeled cells allows detection down to the single-cell level. We are currently interested in engineering multifunctional nanoparticle probes for early detection of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

  • Targeted and Traceable Drug Delivery: We are interested in inorganic nanoparticle-organic polymer hybrid structures for targeted and traceable delivery of small-molecule drugs, siRNAs, and DNAs. The nanoparticles have dual functionalities, serving as both contrast agent and structural scaffold. Hydrophobic cancer drugs will be trapped between the core particle and polymer surface coating layer, whereas targeting ligands will be linked to the outer surface.

  • Imaging Instrumentation: We engineer imaging and spectroscopic instruments for in vitro and in vivo quantitative detections.

besides instruments built in house, our standard lab equipment includes

Two Olympus IX71 microscopes Lightools mouse imaging system
4C refrigerator -20C refrigerator
Eppendorf centrifuge Beckman ultracentrifuge TLX-120
Horiba Fluoromax4 fluorometer UV-vis 2450pc spectrophotometer
CRI Nuance hyperspectral imaging system 400-720nm CRI Nuance hyperspectral imaging system 500-950nm
Malvern Nanosizer ZS Oceanoptics compact spectrometer
Misonix Sonicator XL-2000 Stellarnet NIR portable spectrometer
Biorad C1000 thermal Cycler Two Chemyx syringe pumps
GE AKTA FPLC TECAN Infinite M200 plate reader


We thank our current and past sponsors for their generous support.

University of Washington National Institute of Health
National Science Foundation Department of Defense
Wallace H. Coulter Foundation Seattle Foundation