Molecular Imaging Chemistry Lab

Our lab's main focus is the development of tools for molecular imaging and photodynamic therapy. One of our most exciting current avenues of research is the development on novel lipoprotein-based nanoplatforms for the delivery of diverse therapeutic/diagnostic agents. We also design "PDT beacons", activatable photodynamic therapy agents that can be tailored to report their own therapeutic outcome in vivo. Our development of smarter probes for imaging and PDT will hopefully lead to further advancements in both cancer detection and treatment.


Members of our lab come from all over the world and have varying backgrounds. We are currently collaborating with several groups, both inside and outside of the university. Our lab is located in the 1958 wing of the Chemistry Building at the University of Pennsylvania.

Upon exposure to tumor specific mRNA, the beacon opens, separating the PDT agent from the quencher and allowing both singlet oxygen generation and fluorescence. The singlet oxygen then triggers apoptosis, killing the cell. PDT beacons can also be designed with a peptide linkage that is cleaved in the tumor microenvironment.


Above are images of photosensitizer delivery to folate-positive tumor cells. The tumor is clearly visible within 24 hrs.