Current molecular probes and sensor technologies present limitations in both the range of targets that can be measured and the ability to function in the complicated in vivo environment. My research program will help answer pressing biomedical questions by developing novel nanosensors that overcome these limitations and applying these new tools in situ. Traditional sensor designs, while being quite valuable for in vitro and laboratory analysis, often fail in vivo due to complications such as sensor invasiveness, sensitivity, selectivity, and limitations from the sensor readout mechanism. Polymeric nanosensors have emerged over the past several years as an excellent nanosensor design platform for continuous in vivo monitoring that overcomes the shortcomings of many traditional sensor designs.

Using nanosensors as a platform, my lab’s research is focused on three key research thrusts to advance this field.

  1. Develop the approaches to better control nanosensor function and understand how to adapt nanosensors to measuring in the complicated physiological systems.
  2. Use next generation imaging properties and tools to enable function in vivo through the reduction or elimination of biological background signals.
  3. Develop nanosensors for improved imaging in complex microbial communities (medical bacterial biofilms & environmental microbial consortia).

Research supported with funding from NSF CAREER, NIH, DOE, Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Children’s Hospital of Colorado, and Colorado School of Mines.