Jefferson Chan's directory photo.

Jefferson Chan

Associate Professor

Primary Affiliation

Photoacoustic Imaging


Status Part-time Faculty

Home Department of Chemistry

Phone 244-8272


Address 4065 Beckman Institute, 405 North Mathews Avenue

  • Biography

    Professor Chan is an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry. His graduate work was recognized with the Boehringer Ingelheim Doctoral Research Award for the top Canadian thesis in the areas of organic and bioorganic chemistry. From 2011 to 2014 he was a Human Frontiers Science Program postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley with Christopher Chang. He began his independent career at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2014.


    • B.Sc., chemistry, University of British Columbia, 2006
    • Ph.D., Simon Fraser University, 2011
  • Honors
    • 2022: School of Chemical Sciences Teaching Award

    • 2022: Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award

    • 2021: Helen Corley Petit Scholar

    • 2021: Teachers Ranked as Excellent

    • 2020: Teachers Ranked as Excellent

    • 2019: Beckman Fellow Award

    • 2018: Thieme Chemistry Journal Award

    • 2018: Center for Advanced Study Fellowship

    • 2018: NSF CAREER Award

    • 2018: Research Corporation Scialog Fellow

    • 2017: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship

  • Research

    Research interests:

    • Complex molecule synthesis

    • Chemical biology

    • Analyte-responsive imaging agents

    • Drug delivery platforms

    Professor Chan is currently working on the development of responsive imaging agents known as activity-based sensing probes. He uses a unique approach to detect a specific disease biomarker or biological analyte of interest known as activity-based sensing. In contrast to traditional binding-based approaches (e.g., appending an imaging agent to an antibody that targets a protein), he leverages unique chemistry of the target analyte for sensing. This approach allows him to tune the reactivity of his probes to detect fleeting species by accelerating the reaction or to attenuate reaction rates for biomarkers that are highly abundant. Chan has also coupled sensing to a variety of imaging modalities including fluorescence, bioluminescence, and photoacoustic imaging. He has used the chemical tools for diagnostic applications such as the development of a photoacoustic imaging-based companion diagnostic agent for cancer and a biopsy-free assessment method for elevated hepatic copper in Wilson’s disease. His goal is to expand his activity-based sensing design approach to developing probes for other imaging modalities including ultrasound, PET, SPECT, and MRI.

  • 2021

    • Chan, J. K. F. (Ed.) (2021). Photoacoustic Probes for In Vivo Imaging. (Methods in Enzymology; Vol. 657). Academic Press Inc.
    • East, A. K., Lucero, M. Y., & Chan, J. (2021). New directions of activity-based sensing forin vivoNIR imaging. Chemical Science, 12(10), 3393-3405. DOI: 10.1039/d0sc03096a
    • Gardner, S. H., Brady, C. J., Keeton, C., Yadav, A. K., Mallojjala, S. C., Lucero, M. Y., Su, S., Yu, Z., Hirschi, J. S., Mirica, L. M., & Chan, J. (2021). A General Approach to Convert Hemicyanine Dyes into Highly Optimized Photoacoustic Scaffolds for Analyte Sensing**. Angewandte Chemie - International Edition, 60(34), 18860-18866. DOI: 10.1002/anie.202105905
    • Gardner, S. H., Reinhardt, C. J., & Chan, J. (2021). Advances in Activity-Based Sensing Probes for Isoform-Selective Imaging of Enzymatic Activity. Angewandte Chemie - International Edition, 60(10), 5000-5009. DOI: 10.1002/anie.202003687
    • Lucero, M. Y., & Chan, J. (2021). Photoacoustic imaging of elevated glutathione in models of lung cancer for companion diagnostic applications. Nature Chemistry. DOI: 10.1038/s41557-021-00804-0
    • Lucero, M. Y., East, A. K., & Chan, J. (2021). Near-infrared II Photoacoustic Probes for Nitric Oxide Sensing. In J. Chan (Ed.), Photoacoustic Probes for In Vivo Imaging (pp. 157-180). (Methods in Enzymology; Vol. 657). Academic Press Inc. DOI: 10.1016/bs.mie.2021.06.032
    • Lucero, M. Y., East, A. K., Reinhardt, C. J., Sedgwick, A. C., Su, S., Lee, M. C., & Chan, J. (2021). Development of NIR-II Photoacoustic Probes Tailored for Deep-Tissue Sensing of Nitric Oxide. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 143(18), 7196-7202. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.1c03004
    • Lucero, M. Y., Tang, Y., Zhang, C. J., Su, S., Forzano, J. A., Garcia, V., Huang, X., Moreno, D., & Chan, J. (2021). Activity-based Photoacoustic Probe for Biopsy-free Assessment of Copper in Murine Models of Wilson's Disease and Liver Metastasis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(36). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2106943118
    • Tapia Hernandez, R., Forzano, J. A., Lucero, M. Y., Anorma, C., & Chan, J. (2021). Acoustogenic Probes: A Demonstration to Introduce the Photoacoustic Effect via Analyte Sensing. Journal of Chemical Education, 98(8), 2618-2624. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.1c00199
    • Yadav, A. K., Tapia Hernandez, R., & Chan, J. (2021). A General Strategy to Optimize the Performance of aza-BODIPY-based Probes for Enhanced Photoacoustic Properties. In J. Chan (Ed.), Photoacoustic Probes for In Vivo Imaging (pp. 415-441). (Methods in Enzymology; Vol. 657). Academic Press Inc.. DOI: 10.1016/bs.mie.2021.06.022


    • Bearrood, TE, Aguirre-Figueroa, G & Chan, J 2020, 'Rational Design of a Red Fluorescent Sensor for ALDH1A1 Displaying Enhanced Cellular Uptake and Reactivity', Bioconjugate Chemistry, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 224-228. DOI: 10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.9b00723
    • Gardner, SH, Reinhardt, CJ & Chan, J 2020, 'Advances in Activity-Based Sensing Probes for Isoform-Selective Imaging of Enzymatic Activity', Angewandte Chemie - International Edition. DOI: 10.1002/anie.202003687
    • Reinhardt, CJ, Xu, R & Chan, J 2020, 'Nitric oxide imaging in cancer enabled by steric relaxation of a photoacoustic probe platform', Chemical Science, vol. 11, no. 6, pp. 1587-1592. DOI: 10.1039/c9sc05600a
    • Smaga, LP, Pino, NW, Ibarra, GE, Krishnamurthy, V & Chan, J 2020, 'A Photoactivatable Formaldehyde Donor with Fluorescence Monitoring Reveals Threshold to Arrest Cell Migration', Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 142, no. 2, pp. 680-684. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.9b11899
    • Yadav, AK, Hernandez, S, Su, S & Chan, J 2020, 'Acoustic-based chemical tools for profiling the tumor microenvironment', Current Opinion in Chemical Biology, vol. 57, pp. 114-121. DOI: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2020.06.008
    • Yadav, AK, Reinhardt, CJ, Arango, AS, Huff, HC, Dong, L, Malkowski, MG, Das, A, Tajkhorshid, E & Chan, J 2020, 'An Activity-Based Sensing Approach for the Detection of Cyclooxygenase-2 in Live Cells', Angewandte Chemie - International Edition, vol. 59, no. 8, pp. 3307-3314. DOI: 10.1002/anie.201914845
    • Zhou, EY, Knox, HJ, Reinhardt, CJ, Partipilo, G & Chan, J 2020, Near-infrared photoactivatable nitric oxide donors with photoacoustic readout. in DM Chenoweth (ed.), Methods in Enzymology. Methods in Enzymology, vol. 641, Academic Press Inc., pp. 113-147. DOI: 10.1016/bs.mie.2020.05.003


    • Zhou, EY, Knox, HJ, Liu, C, Zhao, W & Chan, J 2019, 'A Conformationally Restricted Aza-BODIPY Platform for Stimulus-Responsive Probes with Enhanced Photoacoustic Properties', Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 141, no. 44, pp. 17601-17609. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.9b06694


    • Anorma, C, Hedhli, J, Bearrood, TE, Pino, NW, Gardner, SH, Inaba, H, Zhang, P, Li, Y, Feng, D, Dibrell, SE, Kilian, KA, Dobrucki, LW, Fan, TM & Chan, J 2018, 'Surveillance of Cancer Stem Cell Plasticity Using an Isoform-Selective Fluorescent Probe for Aldehyde Dehydrogenase 1A1', ACS Central Science, vol. 4, no. 8, pp. 1045-1055. DOI: 10.1021/acscentsci.8b00313
    • Geng, JL, Li, W, Smaga, LP, Sottos, NR & Chan, J 2018, 'Damage-Responsive Microcapsules for Amplified Photoacoustic Detection of Microcracks in Polymers', Chemistry of Materials, vol. 30, no. 7, pp. 2198-2202. DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.8b00457
    • Knox, HJ & Chan, J 2018, 'Acoustogenic Probes: A New Frontier in Photoacoustic Imaging', Accounts of Chemical Research, vol. 51, no. 11, pp. 2897-2905. DOI: 10.1021/acs.accounts.8b00351
    • Knox, HJ, Kim, TW, Zhu, Z & Chan, J 2018, 'Photophysical Tuning of N-Oxide-Based Probes Enables Ratiometric Photoacoustic Imaging of Tumor Hypoxia', ACS Chemical Biology, vol. 13, no. 7, pp. 1838-1843. DOI: 10.1021/acschembio.8b00099
    • Reinhardt, CJ & Chan, J 2018, 'Development of Photoacoustic Probes for in Vivo Molecular Imaging', Biochemistry, vol. 57, no. 2, pp. 194-199. DOI: 10.1021/acs.biochem.7b00888
    • Reinhardt, CJ, Zhou, EY, Jorgensen, MD, Partipilo, G & Chan, J 2018, 'A Ratiometric Acoustogenic Probe for in Vivo Imaging of Endogenous Nitric Oxide', Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 140, no. 3, pp. 1011-1018. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b10783
    • Zhou, EY, Knox, HJ, Reinhardt, CJ, Partipilo, G, Nilges, MJ & Chan, J 2018, 'Near-Infrared Photoactivatable Nitric Oxide Donors with Integrated Photoacoustic Monitoring', Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 140, no. 37, pp. 11686-11697. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.8b05514


    • Bearrood, TE & Chan, J 2017, 'Disproportionate impact of named reactions on chemical biology', Aldrichimica Acta, vol. 50, no. 2, pp. 31-41.
    • Knox, HJ, Hedhli, J, Kim, TW, Khalili, K, Dobrucki, LW & Chan, J 2017, 'A bioreducible N-oxide-based probe for photoacoustic imaging of hypoxia', Nature Communications, vol. 8, no. 1, 1794. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-01951-0
    • Pino, NW, Davis, J, Yu, Z & Chan, J 2017, 'NitroxylFluor: A Thiol-Based Fluorescent Probe for Live-Cell Imaging of Nitroxyl', Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 139, no. 51, pp. 18476-18479. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b11471
    • Yadav, AK & Chan, J 2017, 'Bright Dyes Bring Biology into Focus', ACS Central Science, vol. 3, no. 9, pp. 920-921. DOI: 10.1021/acscentsci.7b00352
    • Zhang, J, Smaga, LP, Satyavolu, NSR, Chan, J & Lu, Y 2017, 'DNA Aptamer-Based Activatable Probes for Photoacoustic Imaging in Living Mice', Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 139, no. 48, pp. 17225-17228. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b07913