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BE Seminar: “Visualizing the Unseen: Enabling Precision Oncology Through Microenvironment-Triggered Diagnostics and Therapeutics” (Liangliang Hao)

January 24 at 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

The successful integration of precision diagnostics with new personalized therapies opens numerous doors to improve the management of a variety of diseases. In cancer, tissue-environmental features of tumor progression and invasion, including aberrant extracellular matrix remodeling, stromal composition changes, and immune cell engagement, create engineering opportunities for use in developing novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets. In this seminar, I will focus on an emerging paradigm in precision diagnostics: synthetic biomarkers. These bioengineered sensors harness microenvironment-dependent activation mechanisms to generate molecular reporters that can be read out in biofluids. To overcome the limitations often associated with molecular disease biomarkers (cross-reactivity with healthy tissues, dilution in biofluids below detectable levels, and rapid degradation of released material), I have engineered next-generation synthetic biomarker platforms with enhanced specificity and clinical actionability by 1) developing CRISPR-Cas-amplifiable urinary reporters to detect and differentiate disease states at the point-of-care; 2) advancing theranostic technologies to precisely target the hallmarks of cancer metastasis in specific tissues; 3) improving noninvasive in vivo imaging capabilities to allow for rapid assessment of disease status and interventional efficacy over time. Collectively, these studies highlight the use of chemical tools with built-in cancer-reactive modules, embracing a vision for precision health through integrated strategies: identification/monitoring, imaging, and intervention in a personalized manner. 

Liangliang Hao, PhD

Research Scientist in the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science & Koch Institute for Integrated Cancer Research, MIT

Dr. Liangliang Hao is a Research Scientist in the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science & Koch Institute for Integrated Cancer Research at MIT. She develops precision engineering solutions to improve the specificity, adaptability, and portability of cancer diagnostics and therapeutics. Her postdoctoral research in Prof. Sangeeta Bhatia’s lab focuses on harnessing tissue environmental signatures (e.g., protease activity, acidosis) to enable noninvasive detection, monitoring, and imaging of malignancy. Prior to her postdoc, Liang received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University under the guidance of Prof. Chad Mirkin. Her dissertation research centered on the synthesis, characterization, and application of biomaterials for nucleic acid therapeutics. Over her career, Liang has been awarded multiple honors and grants, including fellowships from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the American Cancer Society, and an NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award.


January 24
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
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Raisler Lounge (Room 225), Towne Building
220 South 33rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104 United States
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