Ji-Xin Cheng Selected for COE Early Career Research Excellence Award
Dr. Cheng joined the faculty of Biomedical Engineering in 2003 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2009. His research develops label-free optical imaging tools and novel nanotechnologies for challenging applications in biomedicine such as early detection of tumor spread and early nerve repair after traumatic spinal cord injury. Professor Cheng’s outstanding capability in identifying significant scientific problems enabled him to establish a collaborative research network involving 19 groups at Purdue and 8 groups at other institutions across the country. His research has yielded over 110 peer-reviewed articles that have been cited more than 3000 times, with an h-index of 29. His innovative research has led to two US patents (6809 814 B2, 6 108 081) on coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS) microscopy. He is the lead inventor of four provisional patents on the invention of in vivo flow cytometry, vibrational photoacoustic imaging, multimodal NLO microscopy, and a synergistic approach to early nerve repair. Professor Cheng’s leadership is manifested by over 80 invited talks including three keynote speeches in the NSF Center for Biophotonics and two international workshops on coherent Raman microscopy. Professor Cheng’s contribution to his research fields is also demonstrated as the organizer of 12 national symposia, and as the primary editor (co-editor: Sunney Xie at Harvard) of the first book on Coherent Raman Microscopy, to be published in 2011.
Professor Cheng has developed a new research direction that develops nanotechnology to tackle compelling problems highly related to human health. He has made three key advances to the field of nanomedicine. First, to address the challenge of monitoring nanocarriers in cellular environment, his laboratory has developed a panel of novel contrasts to visualize the nanostructures in live cells and in vivo based on the intrinsic nonlinear optical signals including the two-photon luminescence from gold nanorods and most recently the transient absorption detection of metallic states in single walled carbon nanotubes. These methods have greatly enabled fundamental understanding of nano-bio interactions, a key aspect for translation of nanomedicine to clinical use. Second, to develop in vivo reliable drug carriers, the Cheng laboratory has revisited the conventional wisdom that polymeric micelles systemically carry drug molecules until they are taken up into cells followed by intracellular release. Their imaging work in collaboration with the Kinam Park lab showed a quick escape of drugs from the micelles during cellular uptake as well as circulation in the blood. Further studies will develop new drug carriers that prevent premature release during the circulation. Third, a recent team work led by professor Cheng demonstrated a novel use of copolymer micelles as a membrane repair agent for treatment of spinal cord injury. With this initial success, Cheng is poised to develop a clinically effective approach to repair traumatic spinal cord and brain injury.
Congratulations to Ji-Xin Cheng for the Early Career Research Excellence Award.