Research Fellow @ Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Transfusion Medicine Fellow @ Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

Publication

Emerging technologies in cancer detection

Exciting, modern technologies for cancer detection are under development in academic and industrial laboratories worldwide. This chapter provides a synopsis of technologies reaching greater importance as they advance toward clinical practice. These methods include significant advances in current methods as well as fundamentally new platforms. We place a special emphasis on point-of-care technologies for use in clinical settings as well as novel methods for use as at-home measurements and wearable devices. We also provide a synopsis on the involvement of artificial intelligence-based data analytics such as machine learning algorithms in both existing and developing assessments.

Publication

A wavelength-induced frequency filtering method for fluorescent nanosensors in vivo

Fluorescent nanosensors hold the potential to revolutionize life sciences and medicine. However, their adaptation and translation into the in vivo environment is fundamentally hampered by unfavourable tissue scattering and intrinsic autofluorescence. Here we develop wavelength-induced frequency filtering (WIFF) whereby the fluorescence excitation wavelength is modulated across the absorption peak of a nanosensor, allowing the emission signal to be separated from the autofluorescence background, increasing the desired signal relative to noise, and internally referencing it to protect against artefacts. Using highly scattering phantom tissues, an SKH1-E mouse model and other complex tissue types, we show that WIFF improves the nanosensor signal-to-noise ratio across the visible and near-infrared spectra up to 52-fold. This improvement enables the ability to track fluorescent carbon nanotube sensor responses to riboflavin, ascorbic acid, hydrogen peroxide and a chemotherapeutic drug metabolite for depths up to 5.5 ± 0.1 cm when excited at 730 nm and emitting between 1,100 and 1,300 nm, even allowing the monitoring of riboflavin diffusion in thick tissue. As an application, nanosensors aided by WIFF detect the chemotherapeutic activity of temozolomide transcranially at 2.4 ± 0.1 cm through the porcine brain without the use of fibre optic or cranial window insertion. The ability of nanosensors to monitor previously inaccessible in vivo environments will be important for life-sciences research, therapeutics and medical diagnostics.

Publication

Grass-roots entrepreneurship complements traditional top-down innovation in lung and breast cancer

The majority of biomedical research is funded by public, governmental, and philanthropic grants. These initiatives often shape the avenues and scope of research across disease areas. However, the prioritization of disease-specific funding is not always reflective of the health and social burden of each disease. We identify a prioritization disparity between lung and breast cancers, whereby lung cancer contributes to a substantially higher socioeconomic cost on society yet receives significantly less funding than breast cancer. Using search engine results and natural language processing (NLP) of Twitter tweets, we show that this disparity correlates with enhanced public awareness and positive sentiment for breast cancer. Interestingly, disease-specific venture activity does not correlate with funding or public opinion. We use outcomes from recent early-stage innovation events focused on lung cancer to highlight the complementary mechanism by which bottom-up “grass-roots” initiatives can identify and tackle under-prioritized conditions.

In vivo detection of drug-induced apoptosis in tumors using Raman spectroscopy
Publication

In vivo detection of drug-induced apoptosis in tumors using Raman spectroscopy

We describe a label-free approach based on Raman spectroscopy, to study drug-induced apoptosis in vivo. Spectral-shifts at wavenumbers associated with DNA, proteins, lipids, and collagen have been identified on breast and melanoma tumor tissues. These findings may enable a new analytical method for rapid readout of drug-therapy with miniaturized probes.

Publication

Characterization of magnetic nanoparticle-seeded microspheres for magnetomotive and multimodal imaging

Magnetic iron-oxide nanoparticles have been developed as contrast agents in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and as therapeutic agents in magnetic hyperthermia. They have also recently been demonstrated as contrast and elastography agents in magnetomotive optical coherence tomography and elastography (MM-OCT and MM-OCE, respectively). Protein-shell microspheres containing suspensions of these magnetic nanoparticles in lipid cores, and with functionalized outer shells for specific targeting, have also been demonstrated as efficient contrast agents for imaging modalities such as MM-OCT and MRI, and can be easily modified for other modalities such as ultrasound, fluorescence, and luminescence imaging. In addition to multimodal contrast-enhanced imaging, these microspheres could serve as drug carriers for targeted delivery under image guidance. Although the preparation and surface modifications of protein microspheres containing iron oxide nanoparticles has been previously described and feasibility studies conducted, many questions regarding their production and properties remain. Since the use of multifunctional microspheres could have high clinical relevance, here we report a detailed characterization of their properties and behavior in different environments to highlight their versatility. The work presented here is an effort for the development and optimization of nanoparticle-based microspheres as multi-modal contrast agents that can bridge imaging modalities on different size scales.

News

2017 Class of Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows

The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation announced today its 2017 class of Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows, individuals who underscore the Foundation’s mission of supporting basic research in the chemistry and life sciences. They were selected after a three-part review led by a panel of scientific experts.

The Foundation will award more than $2.6 million in funding for 20 exceptional research fellows from 13 universities

Video

MIT News: Developing rapid cancer nano sensors

Chemicals like nitric oxide and hydrogen peroxide can promote cancer growth. MPC-CMSE Summer Scholar Kaila Holloway is working in the lab of Michael S. Strano, Carbon P. Dubbs Professor in Chemical Engineering at MIT, to develop tiny chemical sensors to detect their concentrations near tumors in the body.

MIT News: Four from MIT named 2017 Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows
News

MIT News: Four from MIT named 2017 Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows

MIT News – Melanie Miller Kaufman – Department of Chemical Engineering – April 24, 2017

Chemical engineering and chemistry postdocs “expected to become the next generation of leaders and innovators in science, engineering, and technology.”

Danielle Mai and Freddy Nguyen from the MIT Department of Chemical Engineering, along with Liela Bayeh and Julianne Troiano of the Department of Chemistry, were awarded 2017 Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellowships. The two-year, competitive program will support each researcher’s continuing work in their corresponding labs.

Freddy Nguyen, a member of the Michael Strano lab, is working to develop nanoscale molecular sensors for probing cancer tumors and their microenvironments. He would like to implant nanosensors inside tumors to measure their response, at the molecular level, to various cancer therapies such as chemotherapeutics and radiation therapy. In 2016, he earned his medical degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and in 2015 received a PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

2017 Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow
News

2017 Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow

Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation – March 30, 2017

2017 Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Research: Development of nanosensors for in-vivo monitoring of cancer therapeutics

Physician-scientist with extensive experience developing and translating nanotechnologies and biomedical optical technologies from the bench to clinic in areas of genetics, oncology, and cardiovascular diseases. Extensive experience in community building in healthcare innovation, research, medical, and physician-scientist communities through various leadership roles.

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