Xiao-an Zhang

Xiao-an Zhang

Research Interests: 

Human body is a highly complex, dynamic, and yet remarkably well organized system at the molecular level. My research group is dedicated to developing novel molecular probes for biomedical imaging in order to noninvasively visualize molecular and cellular events in living organisms at real time. In combination with advanced imaging techniques, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and fluorescence imaging, these molecular probes can be applied to study fundamentally important physiological functions, such as brain activities, and to diagnose diseases, such as cancers at early stage. My research interests span across the interface of chemistry, biology and medical physics. Multidisciplinary experimental approaches, including chemical synthesis, spectroscopy study, cell biology and in vivo imaging are conducted in our lab or via collaborations.


  • Molecular Imaging;
  • MRI;
  • Contrast Agent;
  • Fluorescence;
  • Diagonosis;
  • Neuroimaging;
  • Enzyme Sensor;
  • pH;
  • Hyperporlized MRI;
  • Organic Synthesis;
  • Bioinorganic Chemsitry.

Research Area: Chemical Biology, Bioorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry, Organic Synthesis, Neuroscience and Medical Imaging

Current Research

MRI is a noninvasive imaging technique that is increasingly applied in medical diagnosis and fundamental research in life sciences. My lab is focusing on the development of next generation MRI contrast agents (CAs) with high sensitivity, improved molecular specificity, low toxicity, and optimized pharmacokinetics to improve and extend the capability of MRI. These novel imaging probes are powerful diagnostic and research tools, such as for detecting and detecting cancer, monitoring certain gene expressions, and imaging brain structure and activity. We are currently focusing on three research directions:

  • Multifunctional High Relaxivity Gd-free T1 CAs;
  • Enzyme Activable MRI Reporters;
  • New Chemical Probes for Hyperpolarized MRI/MRS.

Teaching Interests: 

  • CHMA10H3: Introductory Chemistry I
  • CHMC41H3: Organic Reaction Mechanisms
  • CHMC42H3: Organic Synthesis
  • CHM1068S: Biological and Medicinal Chemistry (Graduate Course)