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Categories:  Faculty, Research

Applying quantum dots to cure, diagnose disease

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Michael Stroscio, Richard and Loan Hill distinguished professor in bioengineering and electrical and computer engineering. Photo: Ron Fernandez, UIC College of Engineering (click on image for larger size)

Bioengineering researcher Michael Stroscio says he is even more grateful for Richard Hill’s advice and insight than for his generosity.

Hill and his wife, Loan, announced a $6.5 million pledge to the UIC department of bioengineering to develop UIC biotechnology research.

“It’s been his longstanding vision to use manmade quantum dots to diagnose and cure disease,” said Stroscio, the Richard and Loan Hill distinguished professor in bioengineering and electrical and computer engineering.

Stroscio labels cancer cells by exposing them to yellow quantum dots — nanocrystals with extraordinary optical and electrical properties — that attach to receptors and appear as light under a microscope.

“They’re like little light bulbs,” Stroscio said.

“Cancer cell are tens of microns in size, but quantum dots are only 10 nanometers, so they pinpoint cancer-related integrins on the cell.”

The same techniques could be used to transport repaired DNA structures into cell nuclei, he said.

Stroscio also credits Hill with encouraging him to use manmade nanostructures such as quantum dots to pinpoint defects on metal surfaces.

“The key to Chicago’s and its universities’ success will be creating an environment that stimulates investment in these breakthrough technologies, which will lead to rapid economic growth,” he said.

“I hope this gift will help kickstart UIC’s vision to become a major player in the biotechnology sector and that it will be a magnet for public-private partnerships.”