Dr. Halas is best known for her invention of nanoshells, a new type of nanoparticle with tunable optical properties especially suited for biotechnology applications. She has been the recipient of an NSF Young Investigator Award, three Hershel Rich Invention Awards, the 2003 Cancer Innovator Award of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs of the Department of Defense, and the 2000 CRS-Cygnus award for Outstanding Work in Drug Delivery. She was also awarded "Best Discovery of 2003" by Nanotechnology Now, the world's leading nanotechnology news and information site, and was named finalist for Small Times magazine's 2004 Nanotechnology Researcher of the Year. She is the author of over 100 peer-reviewed publications, has presented over 170 invited talks, and has nine issued patents. Dr. Halas is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Fellow of the Optical Society of America, a Fellow of the SPIE, and a Fellow of the IEEE. Professor Halas was recently named a National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellow by the Department of Defense and has been named Associate Editor of Nano Letters. In 2009, Professor Halas became a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is also the founder and Director of the Rice University Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP), a multidisciplinary research network whose mission is the design, invention, and application of nanoscale optical components. CV
Dr. Yang's research on breast cancer started with the production of human monoclonal antibodies for targeted therapy of breast cancer in 1986. For over seventeen years, she have been working on gene therapy of breast cancer, transcriptional control of anti-apoptosis genes in breast cancer cells, identification of molecular targets that confer apoptosis resistance and aggressive behavior in breast cancer cells for the development of novel molecular targeted therapy, and the development of multifunctional nanoparticles for targeted imaging and therapy of breast cancer. Since the complex biology of breast cancer makes it extremely challenging to treat effectively using a single approach, Dr. Yang believes that comprehensive approaches for early detection and effective treatment are required to reach our ultimate goal of a cure for breast cancer. Currently, her work is focused on the following areas
* Early detection of breast cancer using receptor-targeted nanoparticles and novel optical and MR imaging methods. This research is supported by the Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology Nanotechnology Center for Personalized Oncology (U54 NIH CCNE) and the Emory Translational Molecular Imaging Center (P50, NIH ICMIC);
* Prevention of local and distant tumor recurrence by intraoperative optical imaging of breast tumor margin using targeted imaging probes and novel optical instrumentations. This research is supported by NIH R01 (PI. Yang) and GO (PI. Nie) grants;
* Development of theranostic nanoparticles for targeted therapy and imaging of breast cancer. In the current R01 research proposal, we will produce new types of theranostic nanoparticles with single or combined therapeutic agents that are highly relevant for the treatment of TNBC and then conduct preclinical studies in TNBC animal models for the development of a clinical protocol for pre-operative targeted adjuvant therapy and MRI monitoring, followed by intraoperative imaging-guided surgery using these nanoparticles.
* Determination of the role of breast cancer stem cells in developing invasive TNBC and identification of molecular targets and signal pathways that confer aggressive behavior, invasiveness and resistance to apoptosis in TNBCs. This project was supported by a NIH R01 grant for which I served as the PI.
Over the years, Dr. Yang have been searching for novel technologies and applying them to breast cancer research. Her invention and research led to three patent applications and twelve NIH and DOD grants on nanoimaging of breast cancer (NCI CCNE), targeted breast MRI (NIH ICMIC), optical imaging guided breast surgery (NIH R01 and NIH GO), quantum dots for multiplexed biomarker detection for breast cancer, magnetic separation and detection of circulating breast cancer cells (four NIH SBIR grants). Her work has been published in nanotechnology as well as clinical journals, such as Nature Biotechnology, Nature Nanotechnology, Small, Biomaterials, Cancer Research, Gastroenterology, and Clinical Cancer Research. Her finding was featured on the cover of the July 2009 issue of Clinical Cancer Research and highlighted in the January, June, and July issues of the NIH/NCI Nanotech News Release, Nanotech Wire News, and BreastCancer.Net News in 2009. CV