To realize personalized medicine, we employ a multidisciplinary approach: 1) discover novel circulating biomarkers (e.g., extracellular vesicles / exosomes) for noninvasive monitoring, and 2) develop transformative biosensing technologies to enable and translate these discoveries.
Our current research interests include:
In comparison to invasive tissue biopsies, circulating biomarkers (“liquid biopsies”) can be repeatedly obtained from bodily fluids for noninvasive, longitudinal monitoring. In particular, exosomes have recently emerged as a new class of biomarker. Exosomes are membrane-bound vesicles (50 – 200 nm) actively shed off by cells into the circulation. They possess unique advantages: they exist in large abundance in biofluids, exhibit exceptional stability, and harbor rich molecular information. We are investigating their potential as novel surrogate markers in achieving clinical benefits.
A critical unmet need in personalized medicine is to establish reliable assay technologies for molecular discovery and clinical translation. These two domains have very different requirements. We aim to integrate advances in molecular engineering, microfluidics and microfabrication to develop enabling assay technologies for multiplexed biomarker profiling, disease modeling and point-of-care clinical applications.
Nanomaterials have tremendous potential in biomedical applications. Because of their similar size to biological molecules and tunable properties, nanomaterials can be used as effective diagnostic and therapeutic agents. We are interested to develop functional organic and inorganic nanomaterials by design, as programmable modular units and responsive superstructures.
Despite the clinical potential of many novel circulating biomarkers, their clinical translation remains challenging. This is primarily because conventional biosensors typically consume large sample volumes, require extensive sample processing and lack compatible sensing capabilities. We are addressing these issues by developing new generations of miniaturized, user-friendly sensor platforms (e.g., magnetic, optical and electrical sensors) for biomedical applications.