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Overview: We focus on engineering genetically encoded reporters to noninvasively visualize biological processes at any depth and over large volumes of tissue (for instance, brain-wide) in optically opaque animals. To this end, we exploit, measure, and engineer the physical and chemical properties of biological molecules such as water channels, bacterial viruses, and paramagnetic proteins, to guide the design of conceptually new technologies for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), permitting the latter’s application towards molecular-level studies in living organisms. Our interest in imaging goes beyond MRI and we also work in optical reporter imaging with an emphasis on two main areas: (a) constructing oxygen-independent fluorescence reporters to study anaerobic biosystems and (b) developing new and improved tools for bioluminescence imaging. Our projects are motivated by biomedical & healthcare-related applications; and our scientific objective is to derive mechanistic insights into complex biological functions, for example, neural signaling, metastasis, and cell-based biomedicine, via the application of these reporters in various biological systems.

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