I am currently a Professor in the Department of Molecular & Medical Pharmacology in David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. I also hold memberships in the California NanoSystems Institute, Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging, and Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center on the UCLA campus. I have over 31 years of experience in organic chemistry, covering synthetic methodology, organometallic, supramolecular and radiochemistry, as well as 21 years of experience in micro- and nanofabrication for applications in electronic and microfluidic devices. To translate our liquid biopsy-based diagnostic technologies into the clinical setting, I established an extensive collaboration network with oncology programs at UCLA and Cedars Sinai Medical Center, and other medical institutions in the US. To facilitate the commercial transition of our NanoVelcro Assays, I founded CytoLumina Technologies Corp., a biotechnology company that has licensed intellectual properties associated with NanoVelcro Assays from UCLA. In October 2019, NanoVelcro Assay was recognized as one of the Success Stories by NCI Innovative Molecular Analysis Technologies (IMAT) program.
I co-direct UCLA Liquid Biopsy Laboratory, in which our research team has been working to develop in vitro diagnostics (IVD) technologies for applications in the field of oncology. With continuous support from NIH via R21, R33, R01, P01, U01, U54, and SBIR funding mechanisms, we have built a series of nanotechnology- and microfluidics-enabled IVD technologies that are capable of processing liquid biopsy samples, i.e., extracellular vesicles (EVs) and circulating tumor cells (CTCs). More specifically, our nanomaterials-embedded diagnostic platforms, including NanoVelcro CTC Chips, NanoVilli EV Chips, and Click Chips, introduce powerful non-invasive diagnostic solutions for detection, isolation, and characterization of CTCs and tumor-derived EVs in peripheral blood. Over the past decade, our research endeavors have led to multiple generations of technologies, which have been used to explore the full potential of CTCs and EVs as cancer biomarkers for a variety of clinical applications, e.g., prognostic prediction, disease detection/staging, and treatment monitoring.