Single-molecule and Single-cell techniques
We are exploring new ways to control and study individual molecules and individual cells. Single molecule fluorescence and force spectroscopy have been well established as the two major methods for single molecule characterization. Our lab relies on both methods for design and characterization of molecular devices. We continue to develop single molecule techniques to open new research directions and suit our research needs.
Programmable DNA-based Molecular Biosensors and Biomaterials
DNAs are high programmable biomaterials due to Watson-Crick basepairing. Complex molecular structures with functional properties can be made designing DNA sequence and letting the molecule fold and self-assemble. We plan to utilize the programmable nature of DNA to develope biosensors that have logical properties. Recently, we have developed a fluorescent footprinting assay that allows us to see tiny forces at pico-newton level with single molecule resolution. We apply these assays to study important problems in cell adhesion.
We are constantly developing techinques and tools that enable us to understand the behaviour of cells from mutiple perspectives simultaneously - i.e. watching individual molecules do their jobs in a single cell, while monitoring how the cell respond to all these molecular events. We aim to correlate molecular to cellular behavior with spatial, temporal and functional resolutions. Much of this would be enabled by the development of molecular biosensors and new multimodal imaging techniques.
Cell Screening and Early Cancer Detection
Metastasis, the major cause of cancer deaths, occurs when circulating tumor cells (CTCs) adheres to secondary tissues. Early detection of CTCs in blood is key towards improving cancer mortality rate. Understanding the adhesion behavior of CTCs will allow us to screen for CTCs directly from blood sample.