Research Overview

The theme of the lab is molecular design, synthesis, and testing synthesized compounds for desired activity. For more detail on a particular project, follow the appropriate link. 

Triggered Chiral Materials

Molecules have been developed that change shape and display significantly different chiroptical properties upon addition or removal of an electron. These stereodynamic materials are of interest for possible applications in optical display technoloty, molecular electronics, or electromechanical devices. We have shown that the chiroptical methods essential to this study, especially circular dichroism, are generally useful for the study of coordination complexes in solution.

DNA-Polyamide Ladder Polymers

In collaboration with Ned Seeman's laboratory, we have studied the DNA-templated assembly of industrial-like polymers (e.g., nylon) with controlled size, sequence, and topology. Essential to this task is the preparation of ladder polymers in which single- and double-stranded DNA is covalently attached to a polyamide. In addition to applications in structural DNA nanotechnology, these materials may be of interest for biological applications such as targeting or antisense therapy.

Fluorescent Probes for Divalent Metal Ions

We have constructed fluorescent chemosensors for metal ions, especially, Zn(II), Cu(II), and Mn(II). Besides the synthesis of interesting new probes, we have explored new spectroscopic methods of visualization, especially to quantify both the amount of probe and metal in the sample. Our main focus recently has been on cellular and tissue transport and distribution of Mn(II), which is important in neurobiology including calcium channel function and Manganese-Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MEMRI).

Multimodal Probes for Molecular Imaging

With several ongoing collaborations with scientists and physicians across the NYU Washington Square and School of Medicine campuses, the ultimate goal of this project is to develop tools for the in vivo visualization of the expression of molecular phenomena. In connection with shorter-term projects related to this goal, we have constructed targeted, multimodal, contrast agents with polyvalent nanoparticle platforms including dendrimers and viral particles.

Financial Support

We are grateful to the following agencies for support of our work:

National Science Foundation

National Institutes of Health

NYU Cancer Center, Dept. of Radiology Seed Funds, and NYU-Poly Joint Grants

Cancer Innovations, Inc.


Office of Naval Research

Air Force Office of Scientific Research