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Ester Kwon, PhD

Assistant Professor, Bioengineering

The overall goal of the Kwon Lab is to use the unique physical, biological, and smart properties of nanoscale materials or "nanomaterials" to create tools, diagnostics, and therapeutics for the central nervous system.

Activity-based Imaging and Sensing in the Brain

Understanding changes in molecular activity in the living brain will help us understand the brain in health and disease, allowing us to develop more specific and effective diagnostics and therapeutics. We are engineering synthetic materials that can locate to the injured brain and report protease activity. These activity-based nanosensors for traumatic brain injury can be developed as imaging probes to illuminate spatial activity of proteases or as signals that can be measured from biological fluids to measure temporal aspects of protease activity. This sensor platform takes advantage of the ability of nanometer-scaled materials to locate to injured brain.

Targeted Nanoscale Delivery to the Brain

The greater majority of therapeutics for application in the brain are not targeted to specific cells or structures, leading to decreased efficacy and/or off-target activity. Our goal is to create nanomaterial platforms for "targeted pharmacology" where the surface of nanomaterials is engineered to interact with specific biological structures and carries a diagnostic or therapeutic payload. In order to mediate this interaction of synthetic nanomaterials and biological structures, we are particularly interested in using peptides. Peptides are small biological units that can be readily synthesized and incorporated into nanomaterials. In addition to the modification of nanomaterials with peptides, we are also interested in the discovery of new peptides that have unique properties and function.

Ester Kwon, PhD
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