Our lab works at the interface of biology, bioanalytical chemistry, and materials and biomolecular engineering to develop technologies that can address diagnostic and therapeutic challenges related to human health. Our long-term translational goals are to accelerate biomarker signature discovery for applications in cancer and to engineer multifunctional RNA therapeutics and rationally designed nanomaterials.      

The identification of sensitive and specific biomarker signatures remains a critical unmet need for highly complex and heterogeneous diseases such as cancer. In particular, achieving both high analytical sensitivity and high-throughput biomarker candidate screening remains a bottleneck for biomarker discovery. To address these challenges, we integrate complementary hypothesis-driven and hypothesis-free approaches, leveraging the exceptional sensitivity and resolution of single-molecule analytical methods and the functional versatility of polymeric and biomimetic materials. Our long-term goals are to develop tools for accelerating biomarker signature discovery and translate these technologies toward diagnostic and predictive applications in cancer, including the early detection of ovarian cancer.

Nucleic acid therapeutics, particularly RNA, are experiencing a renaissance with the recent success of messenger RNA vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic. The diverse biological functionalities of RNA provide a wealth of engineering opportunities for tailored therapeutic modes of action. We aim to exploit the versatility of nucleic acid sequence and structural design to engineer multifunctional RNA macromolecules for cancer immunotherapy.

In a related thrust, we develop platforms to guide the rational design of therapeutic nanomaterials and the prediction of their in vivo behaviors. While nanomaterials have emerged as highly promising vehicles for therapeutic and diagnostic applications over the past few decades, very few nanoparticle systems have been successfully translated to the clinic. Developing predictive tests for the in vivo efficacies of nanomaterials remains an especially challenging obstacle, due to a poor understanding of biomolecular interactions with these materials and inter-individual heterogeneities. By developing high-throughput, high-resolution multiplexed profiling tools for analyzing the biological interfaces of nanoparticles, we aim to develop predictive tests to guide nanomaterials design and precision nanomedicine.