Home / Research / Optical Probe and Imaging Platform short introduction
Home / Research / Optical Probe and Imaging Platform short introduction
Optical Probe and Imaging Platform short introduction

   The goal of The Optical Probe and Imaging for Cell Functions Platform is to encourage collaborative research effort to develop biochemical-, cell-, and high-content based assays and training amenable to high-throughput screening of chemical compounds or small molecule libraries on live cells. One of the core missions of the Optical Probe and Imaging Platform is the custom development of new fluorescent probes and fluorescence-based biological assays including:

   ·Characterization and quantification of fluorescent probe absorption spectra, extending into the increasingly-important near-infrared range (NIR).

   ·Characterization of fluorescent probe steady-state emission into the NIR.

   ·Quantification of fluorescent probes lifetimes into the NIR, allowing the development of lifetime-based assays to complement intensity-based assays.

   ·Development of protein- and membrane-binding assays with individual proteins, micelles, or whole cells, based on fluorescence anisotropy.

   Another core mission is high-content screening (HCS). The development of fluorescent probes and cell-based assays allows us to perform high-content screening (HCS) in cell-based systems using living cells as tools in biological research to elucidate the cell signaling pathways and functions of normal and diseased cells. HCS can also be used to discover and optimizes new drug candidates. High content screening is a combination of modern cell biology, with all its molecular tools, with automated high resolution microscopy and robotic handling.

High Content Screening System can provide:

   ·Ultra-fast image acquisition and powerful data processing capabilities translate into immediate results

   ·Exceptional image quality even at highest speed for more reliable data and more confidence.

   ·Supports the complete spectrum of HCS applications, from the simplest to the most sophisticated. Tailor a system that's exactly right for the needs of each lab, and easily reconfigure to meet changing requirements.

Rapid online image data processing and thoroughly flexible analysis for all high content cellular applications, including multi-parametric multiplex assays.

  • Nathaniel S. Finney

    The research of the Finney group focuses on the use of fluorescent probes to indicate the presence of important ions and small molecules. Analytes of interest range from toxicologically and biologically relevant metal ions to intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) to explosives to chemical warfare agents. Our work combines organic synthesis and spectroscopy with biological and environmental science, producing results that no one field can lay claim to. Fundamental work on the design of new fluorophores and conjugated π-systems is also of great interest.

  • Chang Chung

    The research in the Chung group focuses on understanding the role of microglia in neuroinflammation. Inflammation is a key component of pathophysiology of both acute injuries and chronic diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Microglia activation/chemotaxis is prerequisite for microglia function whether neuroprotective or inflammatory, making understanding essential for design of rational approaches for therapeutic modulation and regulation of microglia proliferation and chemotaxis.  Emphasis is on control of activation/chemotaxis of resident microglia in the brain in early stages of neuroinflammation.  Unraveling complex networks of signaling downstream of P2Y12 receptor during microglia chemotaxis is an important target.  Elucidation of neurotoxic effects of microglia observed in depression is another area of research interests.

  • Jun Dai

    The research efforts of the Dai group encompass two areas:  1) The role of retinoid-related orphan receptor RORα in controlling skin homeostatis, and 2) Control of normal mitosis by protein kinase haspin.  In the first area, the main interest is on the interplay between intra- and inter-cellular signaling pathways involved in control of skin tissue homeostasis and tumor development. Focuses on the role of the nuclear orphan receptor RORα in controlling keratinocyte differentiation and skin tumor formation, as well as the therapeutic potential of RORα agonists/antagonists in treatment of skin diseases.  In the second area, the group is interested in exploring the role of haspin in cancer development and the potential of haspin inhibitors as anti-tumor drugs.

  • Yunfei Du

    The research area of the Du group involves investigation of hypervalent iodine (III) – mediated transformations, including oxidative coupling, rearrangement, cascade reactions, and asymmetric reactions.  Additionally, the group develops metal-free methodology for the constructionof heterocyclic compounds and pharmaceutical agents.

  • Qingzhi Gao

    The research of the Gao group covers medicinal chemistry and molecular targeting, synthetic chemistry and organo catalysis, and computer-aided drug design, aimed at the discovery of functional drug delivery carriers and understanding mechanisms of molecular targeting. Specific areas include a) strategies for development of small molecular anti-cancer drugs for targeted therapy, b) design and development of actively transportable small molecule drugs or protein-drug conjugates, c) discovery and development of novel drug-delivery carriers and pharmaceutics based on supramolecular chemistry, d) computer aided molecular design and modeling for innovative drug discovery and mechanistic study of drug transporters.

  • JianHui Huang

    The research of the Huang group encompasses three main areas:  1) Studies towards the synthesis of heterocycles via transition metal catalysis, 2) Design and synthesis of useful active pharmaceutical ingredients, and 3) Late-stage functionalization of drug molecules and other materials.


  • Hans Lischka

    The research in the group of Lischka involves investigation of defect structures in materials with current applications to: grapheme nanoribbons, excitonic coupling and charge transfer in p-conjugated polymers as applied to photovoltaics, photostability of DNA; development of high-level quantum hemical methods and computer codes in the framework of COLUMBUS; full parallelization of MRCI method including analytic energyg radients and nonadiabatic couplings; onthe-fly nonadiabatic photodynamics (programsystemNEWTON-X) with application to biological systems including QM/MM approach.

  • Mark Olson

    The research in the group of Olson is focused on systems chemistry with emphasis in surface science/surface chemistry and molecular recognition and self-assembly. Focus is on the role of long-range non-covalent interactions and electrostatics in synthetic macromolecules and how these forces affect the thermodynamic equilibrium and kinetics of self-assembly in solution, on surfaces, and at the solvent-nanoparticle interface.  Specific directions include, 1) development of functional information of rich structural motifs and investigation of their performance characteristics in solution as molecular entities, 2) carry over of successful systems into the macromolecular world of polymer scaffolds, colloids, and nanoparticulates, eventually leading to 3) incorporation of these macromolecular components into device setting.

  • Janak Pathak

    Research Interest: Osteoimmunology, bone biology, osteoporosis, tissue engeneering (bone and cartilage regeneration)


    My research is mainly focus on to unravle the mechanism of systemic inflammation-induced osteoporosis. 

    Fig: Mechanism of inflammation-induced osteoporosis


  • Jay Siegel

    The research in the group of Siegel encompasses molecular design, chemical synthesis, and structural analysis, which constitute the three principle components of modern stereochemistry. Robust transmission of structural and stereo-chemical information is fundamental to selective chemical processes such as (bio)molecular recognition, enantioselective reactions, and the assembly of designed materials. Beyond symmetry and molecular bonding, stereochemical investigations draw upon concepts from many disciplines and implement techniques such as synthetic methodology, X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, and computational theory.  Research combines synthetic and physical organic chemistry with an eye toward issues of pharmaceutical, material, and life science.

  • Erik J. Sorensen

    The research in the group of Sorensen encompasses the areas of a) organic chemistry: rapid formation of molecular complexity in biologically active natural product synthesis, b) Innovative methods and strategies for chemical synthesis, c) Design and synthesis of candidates for antibiotic development efforts, and d) New concepts for complex synthesis featuring C–H activation methods.

  • Rajavel Srinivasan

    The research in the group of Srinivasan encompasses two main areas, 1) Developing new reaction methodologies: The research topics under this area include bioorthogonal reactions, late-stage modification of advanced chemical entities, C-H activation, and high-throughput amenable synthesis – aiming at advancing the way organic molecules are made for drug discovery and chemical biology applications. 2) Inhibitor discovery based on fragment-based approaches: Design and synthesis of ‘unconventional’ fragments with rich structural diversity. These fragments will be used as a starting point towards novel inhibitors for unexplored biological targets such as the AurB-INCENP interaction.

  • Jian Sun

    The research in the group of Sun involves investigation of B cell development and B cell related diseases. In recent years, immunotherapies with antibodies to depleting B cells are widely used in autoimmune diseases and B cell lymphoma. The strategy in this group is to design cytokine antagonist peptides using computer-aided design, fuse the peptides with human IgG Fc to form peptibodies by gene engineering, and analyze their activity in vitro and in vivo. Several peptibodies inhibiting B lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS), a critical factor for B cell maturation and survival, are currently tested in cell culture and SLE animal models in this lab. Because overexpression of BLyS is involved in pathogenesis and development of autoimmune diseases and B cell malignances, the BLyS antagonists designed and analyzed may be potential therapeutic reagents for these diseases.

  • Zheng Wang

    The research in the group of Wang encompasses four main areas, including 1) Functional polymeric materials (biodegradable polymeric materials, smart polymeric materials such as thermo-sensitive and pH sensitive polymers, dendrimers etc.), 2) Nanotechnology for solubility improvement of water-insoluble drugs, 3) Targeted and controlled drug release systems, and 4) Self-assembled nanostructures for controlled drug release.

  • Donghua Wang

    The research in the group of Wang involves the design, synthesis, and biological activity evaluation of new compounds, with focus on industrialization of generic drugs, intermediates, and fine chemicals.  Specific areas include 1) Design and synthesis of the Rho kinase inhibitor, 2) Design and synthesis of the PDE4 inhibitor, and 3) Design and synthesis of antihistamine drugs

  • Adrian Wolf

    Development of Conjugates between light-­‐responsive triarylamines and electron-­‐conducting units (perylene, fullerene) for the formation of supramolecular nanostructures.


  • Kenneth Woycechowsky

    The research in the Woycechowsky group focuses on the supramolecular chemistry of proteins. In particular, we are interested in proteins that assemble into symmetrical, closed-shell, polyhedral capsid structures. Protein capsids can act as molecular containers and delivery vehicles for a variety of molecular cargoes, and therefore are useful for bionanotechnological applications, such as drug delivery, catalysis, and materials synthesis. Protein engineering strategies are used to explore and exploit the supramolecular chemistry of protein capsids. This approach is inherently interdisciplinary, utilizing methods from biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology, organic chemistry, and cell biology. Research projects in our lab fall into three main areas, including 1) capsid self-assembly, 2) molecular encapsulation, and 3) drug delivery.

  • Yong Zhang

    The research in the group of Zhang is encompassed in the areas of chiral separation and proteomics analysis.

  • Youcai Zhang

    The research in Zhang’s group focuses on the function of transporters and nuclear receptors in pharmacology and toxicology. The major projects include: 1) preclinical development of novel transporter/receptor-targeted drugs for metabolic diseases; 2) investigation of the role of intestinal microbiota in lipid metabolism; and 3) establishment of novel preclinical models to improve the prediction of drug-induced liver injury.

  • Yanjun Zhao

    The research in the group of Zhao encompasses four main areas, including (1) Stimuli-responsive drug delivery systems; (2) Polymer and peptide self-assembly; (3) Topical and transdermal drug delivery; (4) Biomaterials, nanomaterials, and nanomedicine.

  • Lijun Zhou

    The research in the group of Zhou encompasses three main areas, including, 1) Investigation of molecular pathogenesis of diseases and cell signaling pathways, and pharmacological mechanism of drug action, 2) Development of new small molecule based targeting anticancer drugs, e.g., TRAF6 as a new target of anti-tumor therapy, 3) Development of cells and C. elegans models, for high-throughput screenings, e.g., anti-aging drugs.

Optical Probe and Imaging Platform short introduction

   The goal of The Optical Probe and Imaging for Cell Functions Platform is to encourage collaborative research effort to develop biochemical-, cell-, and high-content based assays and training amenable to high-throughput screening of chemical compounds or small molecule libraries on live cells. One of the core missions of the Optical Probe and Imaging Platform is the custom development of new fluorescent probes and fluorescence-based biological assays including:

   ·Characterization and quantification of fluorescent probe absorption spectra, extending into the increasingly-important near-infrared range (NIR).

   ·Characterization of fluorescent probe steady-state emission into the NIR.

   ·Quantification of fluorescent probes lifetimes into the NIR, allowing the development of lifetime-based assays to complement intensity-based assays.

   ·Development of protein- and membrane-binding assays with individual proteins, micelles, or whole cells, based on fluorescence anisotropy.

   Another core mission is high-content screening (HCS). The development of fluorescent probes and cell-based assays allows us to perform high-content screening (HCS) in cell-based systems using living cells as tools in biological research to elucidate the cell signaling pathways and functions of normal and diseased cells. HCS can also be used to discover and optimizes new drug candidates. High content screening is a combination of modern cell biology, with all its molecular tools, with automated high resolution microscopy and robotic handling.

High Content Screening System can provide:

   ·Ultra-fast image acquisition and powerful data processing capabilities translate into immediate results

   ·Exceptional image quality even at highest speed for more reliable data and more confidence.

   ·Supports the complete spectrum of HCS applications, from the simplest to the most sophisticated. Tailor a system that's exactly right for the needs of each lab, and easily reconfigure to meet changing requirements.

Rapid online image data processing and thoroughly flexible analysis for all high content cellular applications, including multi-parametric multiplex assays.

  • Nathaniel S. Finney -- Leader

    The research of the Finney group focuses on the use of fluorescent probes to indicate the presence of important ions and small molecules. Analytes of interest range from toxicologically and biologically relevant metal ions to intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) to explosives to chemical warfare agents. Our work combines organic synthesis and spectroscopy with biological and environmental science, producing results that no one field can lay claim to. Fundamental work on the design of new fluorophores and conjugated π-systems is also of great interest.

  • Chang Chung -- Leader

    The research in the Chung group focuses on understanding the role of microglia in neuroinflammation. Inflammation is a key component of pathophysiology of both acute injuries and chronic diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Microglia activation/chemotaxis is prerequisite for microglia function whether neuroprotective or inflammatory, making understanding essential for design of rational approaches for therapeutic modulation and regulation of microglia proliferation and chemotaxis.  Emphasis is on control of activation/chemotaxis of resident microglia in the brain in early stages of neuroinflammation.  Unraveling complex networks of signaling downstream of P2Y12 receptor during microglia chemotaxis is an important target.  Elucidation of neurotoxic effects of microglia observed in depression is another area of research interests.

  • Jun Dai

    The research efforts of the Dai group encompass two areas:  1) The role of retinoid-related orphan receptor RORα in controlling skin homeostatis, and 2) Control of normal mitosis by protein kinase haspin.  In the first area, the main interest is on the interplay between intra- and inter-cellular signaling pathways involved in control of skin tissue homeostasis and tumor development. Focuses on the role of the nuclear orphan receptor RORα in controlling keratinocyte differentiation and skin tumor formation, as well as the therapeutic potential of RORα agonists/antagonists in treatment of skin diseases.  In the second area, the group is interested in exploring the role of haspin in cancer development and the potential of haspin inhibitors as anti-tumor drugs.

  • Yunfei Du

    The research area of the Du group involves investigation of hypervalent iodine (III) – mediated transformations, including oxidative coupling, rearrangement, cascade reactions, and asymmetric reactions.  Additionally, the group develops metal-free methodology for the constructionof heterocyclic compounds and pharmaceutical agents.

  • Qingzhi Gao

    The research of the Gao group covers medicinal chemistry and molecular targeting, synthetic chemistry and organo catalysis, and computer-aided drug design, aimed at the discovery of functional drug delivery carriers and understanding mechanisms of molecular targeting. Specific areas include a) strategies for development of small molecular anti-cancer drugs for targeted therapy, b) design and development of actively transportable small molecule drugs or protein-drug conjugates, c) discovery and development of novel drug-delivery carriers and pharmaceutics based on supramolecular chemistry, d) computer aided molecular design and modeling for innovative drug discovery and mechanistic study of drug transporters.

  • JianHui Huang

    The research of the Huang group encompasses three main areas:  1) Studies towards the synthesis of heterocycles via transition metal catalysis, 2) Design and synthesis of useful active pharmaceutical ingredients, and 3) Late-stage functionalization of drug molecules and other materials.


  • Hans Lischka

    The research in the group of Lischka involves investigation of defect structures in materials with current applications to: grapheme nanoribbons, excitonic coupling and charge transfer in p-conjugated polymers as applied to photovoltaics, photostability of DNA; development of high-level quantum hemical methods and computer codes in the framework of COLUMBUS; full parallelization of MRCI method including analytic energyg radients and nonadiabatic couplings; onthe-fly nonadiabatic photodynamics (programsystemNEWTON-X) with application to biological systems including QM/MM approach.

  • Mark Olson

    The research in the group of Olson is focused on systems chemistry with emphasis in surface science/surface chemistry and molecular recognition and self-assembly. Focus is on the role of long-range non-covalent interactions and electrostatics in synthetic macromolecules and how these forces affect the thermodynamic equilibrium and kinetics of self-assembly in solution, on surfaces, and at the solvent-nanoparticle interface.  Specific directions include, 1) development of functional information of rich structural motifs and investigation of their performance characteristics in solution as molecular entities, 2) carry over of successful systems into the macromolecular world of polymer scaffolds, colloids, and nanoparticulates, eventually leading to 3) incorporation of these macromolecular components into device setting.

  • Janak Pathak

    Research Interest: Osteoimmunology, bone biology, osteoporosis, tissue engeneering (bone and cartilage regeneration)


    My research is mainly focus on to unravle the mechanism of systemic inflammation-induced osteoporosis. 

    Fig: Mechanism of inflammation-induced osteoporosis


  • Jay Siegel

    The research in the group of Siegel encompasses molecular design, chemical synthesis, and structural analysis, which constitute the three principle components of modern stereochemistry. Robust transmission of structural and stereo-chemical information is fundamental to selective chemical processes such as (bio)molecular recognition, enantioselective reactions, and the assembly of designed materials. Beyond symmetry and molecular bonding, stereochemical investigations draw upon concepts from many disciplines and implement techniques such as synthetic methodology, X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, and computational theory.  Research combines synthetic and physical organic chemistry with an eye toward issues of pharmaceutical, material, and life science.

  • Erik J. Sorensen

    The research in the group of Sorensen encompasses the areas of a) organic chemistry: rapid formation of molecular complexity in biologically active natural product synthesis, b) Innovative methods and strategies for chemical synthesis, c) Design and synthesis of candidates for antibiotic development efforts, and d) New concepts for complex synthesis featuring C–H activation methods.

  • Rajavel Srinivasan

    The research in the group of Srinivasan encompasses two main areas, 1) Developing new reaction methodologies: The research topics under this area include bioorthogonal reactions, late-stage modification of advanced chemical entities, C-H activation, and high-throughput amenable synthesis – aiming at advancing the way organic molecules are made for drug discovery and chemical biology applications. 2) Inhibitor discovery based on fragment-based approaches: Design and synthesis of ‘unconventional’ fragments with rich structural diversity. These fragments will be used as a starting point towards novel inhibitors for unexplored biological targets such as the AurB-INCENP interaction.

  • Jian Sun

    The research in the group of Sun involves investigation of B cell development and B cell related diseases. In recent years, immunotherapies with antibodies to depleting B cells are widely used in autoimmune diseases and B cell lymphoma. The strategy in this group is to design cytokine antagonist peptides using computer-aided design, fuse the peptides with human IgG Fc to form peptibodies by gene engineering, and analyze their activity in vitro and in vivo. Several peptibodies inhibiting B lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS), a critical factor for B cell maturation and survival, are currently tested in cell culture and SLE animal models in this lab. Because overexpression of BLyS is involved in pathogenesis and development of autoimmune diseases and B cell malignances, the BLyS antagonists designed and analyzed may be potential therapeutic reagents for these diseases.

  • Zheng Wang

    The research in the group of Wang encompasses four main areas, including 1) Functional polymeric materials (biodegradable polymeric materials, smart polymeric materials such as thermo-sensitive and pH sensitive polymers, dendrimers etc.), 2) Nanotechnology for solubility improvement of water-insoluble drugs, 3) Targeted and controlled drug release systems, and 4) Self-assembled nanostructures for controlled drug release.

  • Donghua Wang

    The research in the group of Wang involves the design, synthesis, and biological activity evaluation of new compounds, with focus on industrialization of generic drugs, intermediates, and fine chemicals.  Specific areas include 1) Design and synthesis of the Rho kinase inhibitor, 2) Design and synthesis of the PDE4 inhibitor, and 3) Design and synthesis of antihistamine drugs

  • Adrian Wolf -- Postdoctorals

    Development of Conjugates between light-­‐responsive triarylamines and electron-­‐conducting units (perylene, fullerene) for the formation of supramolecular nanostructures.


  • Kenneth Woycechowsky

    The research in the Woycechowsky group focuses on the supramolecular chemistry of proteins. In particular, we are interested in proteins that assemble into symmetrical, closed-shell, polyhedral capsid structures. Protein capsids can act as molecular containers and delivery vehicles for a variety of molecular cargoes, and therefore are useful for bionanotechnological applications, such as drug delivery, catalysis, and materials synthesis. Protein engineering strategies are used to explore and exploit the supramolecular chemistry of protein capsids. This approach is inherently interdisciplinary, utilizing methods from biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology, organic chemistry, and cell biology. Research projects in our lab fall into three main areas, including 1) capsid self-assembly, 2) molecular encapsulation, and 3) drug delivery.

  • Yong Zhang

    The research in the group of Zhang is encompassed in the areas of chiral separation and proteomics analysis.

  • Youcai Zhang

    The research in Zhang’s group focuses on the function of transporters and nuclear receptors in pharmacology and toxicology. The major projects include: 1) preclinical development of novel transporter/receptor-targeted drugs for metabolic diseases; 2) investigation of the role of intestinal microbiota in lipid metabolism; and 3) establishment of novel preclinical models to improve the prediction of drug-induced liver injury.

  • Yanjun Zhao

    The research in the group of Zhao encompasses four main areas, including (1) Stimuli-responsive drug delivery systems; (2) Polymer and peptide self-assembly; (3) Topical and transdermal drug delivery; (4) Biomaterials, nanomaterials, and nanomedicine.

  • Lijun Zhou

    The research in the group of Zhou encompasses three main areas, including, 1) Investigation of molecular pathogenesis of diseases and cell signaling pathways, and pharmacological mechanism of drug action, 2) Development of new small molecule based targeting anticancer drugs, e.g., TRAF6 as a new target of anti-tumor therapy, 3) Development of cells and C. elegans models, for high-throughput screenings, e.g., anti-aging drugs.