Find, Fight, Follow: Using Nanoparticles to Solve Biomedical Challenges

Scanning electron microscopy of silver nanoparticle-coated, nanocauliflower shaped Hafnium oxide. The antibacterial properties of silver nanoparticles have been known for a long time. The accidental uncontrolled nucleation of silver nanoparticles led to the formation of a large ruby-shaped facet.
Scanning electron microscopy of silver nanoparticle-coated, nanocauliflower shaped Hafnium oxide. The antibacterial properties of silver nanoparticles have been known for a long time. The accidental uncontrolled nucleation of silver nanoparticles led to the formation of a large ruby-shaped facet.

Find. Fight. Follow. That’s how Fatemeh Ostadhossein describes how nanoparticles can be used to solve biomedical challenges—first, to detect disease at an early stage; second, to target and treat disease; and third, to evaluate the outcome of the treatment.

“Nanoparticles show great promise for finding, fighting, and following a variety of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, infections, and genetic disorders,” said Ostadhossein, aBeckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellow who recently completed her Ph.D. in bioengineering at Illinois. “The main goal of my research is to integrate materials science, advanced materials characterization, and biomedical engineering to develop smart nanomaterials for biomedical imaging for early disease diagnosis, to develop smart biomaterials for drug delivery applications, and to assess the safety of the nanomaterials for the ultimate translation from bench to bedside.”

Fatemeh Ostadhossein
Fatemeh Ostadhossein, a Beckman Institute postdoctoral fellow.

Her work with Dipanjan Pan, associate professor of bioengineering and member of the Bioimaging Science and Technology Group, provided the opportunity to do just that. His MatMed Laboratory for Materials in Medicine “has a firm grounding in organic chemistry and biology, which is a combination you find in very few labs,” said Ostadhossein. “I feel very fortunate to work with Dr. Pan, who is a global leader and has a proven record in the invention of new nanotechnology platforms for various biomedical applications.”

Ostadhossein’s research efforts also are aided by the staff and the state-of-the-art equipment in Beckman’s Microscopy Suite, including the transmission electron microscope (TEM), scanning electron microscope (SEM), atomic force microscope, confocal microscope, and microCT. “Beckman has groundbreaking technologies for imaging nanoparticles,” she said.

What information can the Microscopy Suite technology provide? “The application of each of these devices depends on the particular stage of my research project,” Ostadhossein said. “If I am focused on the synthesis step, then I need to characterize my samples, for instance, by TEM and SEM. If I need to see the interaction of materials I developed and follow in biological environments, I use confocal microscopy for cell imaging or IVIS imaging for small animal imaging.”

As a Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellow, she’s continuing her work at the intersection of material sciences and biology. She’s working with Pan, along with bioengineering Professor Rohit Bhargava, and chemistry Professor Jefferson Chan.

Why Beckman?
"Beckman is a great facility for conducting research in biology and in the characterizations of nanoparticles. The resources here are outstanding. I feel especially fortunate to have access to groundbreaking imaging technologies and expert staff who aid our research efforts."
—Fatemeh Ostadhossein