Professor Hongjie Dai is among 86 scientists nationwide who have received awards from the National Institutes of Health's High-Risk, High-Reward program.
The Pioneer Award provides up to $3.5 million, dispensed over five years, to investigators at all career levels to pursue new research directions and develop groundbreaking, high-impact approaches to a broad area of biomedical or behavioral science.
Hongjie Dai, PhD, professor of chemistry, plans use the award to develop infrared-emitting probes through nanoscience and chemical principles to enable deep-tissue, real-time, in-vivo imaging down to cellular resolution.
“Such infrared vision will be employed to address fundamental and practical problems in neuroscience, cancer and cardiovascular diseases,” Dai said.
Dai works at the interface of nanochemistry, materials sciences and biomedical sciences. In recent years, he has led the development of a fluorescence-imaging technique that can produce images of blood vessels in the hind limbs and brains of living mice with unprecedented clarity in the near-infrared regime. This technique works by injecting a dye into the animal’s bloodstream that fluoresces near-infrared light beyond 1,000 nanometers.
Dai plans to use the grant to push the imaging technique further toward the infrared regime, which would result in even clearer images that can be produced from greater depths within tissues. With this enhanced capability, researchers may be able to use this imaging technique in animal models and eventually inhumans, where it could help with basic understanding of diseases and lead to potentially better diagnostics and treatments.
Dai is a member of the Stanford Bio-X, the Stanford Biophysics Program, Stanford Cardiovascular Institute, the Stanford Child Health Research Institute, the Stanford Cancer Institute and the Stanford Neurosciences Institute.