Research Overview

As one of the major clinical imaging modalities, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can noninvasively penetrate deep into an intact, opaque object to provide interior 3D information with a high resolution. Due to its unique advantages, MRI is also increasingly applied in basic biomedical research. Conventional MRI relies on the 1H-NMR signal predominantly from water and lipid molecules, to obtain the anomic and functional information of living objects.

The major limitations of MRI is relatively low sensitivity and lack of specificity for molecular imaging. Our main goal is to overcome these limitations with new molecular probes. Our 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 will be applied as both diagnostic and research tools, such as for detecting and monitoring cancer and imaging brain structure and activity. We are currently focusing on three research directions:

  1. Multifunctional High Relaxivity Gd-free T1 Contrast Agents;
  2. Enzyme Activable MRI Reporters;
  3. New Chemical Probes for Hyperpolarized MRI/MRS