Jefferson Chan

Research Area

Biochemistry, Chemical Biology, Synthetic Organic


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Photoacoustic Imaging

Photoacoustic (PA) imaging is a powerful imaging modality that is based on the detection of sound waves generated by an optically excited chromophore. Due to the low scattering of sound in biological tissues, this state-of-the-art approach is ideal for non-invasive, deep-tissue bioimaging of live animals and human organs. Our group is currently developing bioorthoganol chemical probes for the early diagnosis of cancer. Moreover, we are applying these chemical tools to study tumor progression and metastasis in vivo.

Infectious Diseases

Tuberculosis (TB) is a widespread infectious disease caused by M. tuberculosis and is responsible for nearly two million deaths each year. Unfortunately, existing drugs are becoming obsolete owing to non-compliance which has led to the emergence of multiple and extensively drug-resistance strains. Drawing from our expertise in organic synthesis and mechanistic enzymology, we are currently developing new small-molecule inhibitors that target crucial TB-specific enzymatic activities to study and treat TB infections.

Neurological Disorders

Neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are characterized by a decline in cognitive abilities that result from neuronal cell death. It is believed that hypoxia, oxidative stress, metal ion signaling, and neurotransmission all play a role in the neuropathology of AD; however, their interplay is inadequately studied, especially in the context of in vivo biological systems. Our group is currently developing chemical and protein-based probes to discover the mechanisms underlying this medical condition.

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