Interdisciplinary Life Science - PULSe Great research is a matter of choice

Alexander Wei

Alexander Wei Profile Picture

Professor and University Faculty Scholar
Ph.D., Harvard University

Contact Info:

Training Group(s):
Immunology and Infectious Diseases
Chemical Biology

Current Research Interests:

Research in the Wei group integrates organic chemistry, cell biology, and nanoscale materials science to develop new approaches to targeted delivery and therapy. Students in our group develop a wide range of research skills including organic and nanomaterials synthesis, optical and electron microscopy, and cell culture techniques. Some of our projects are described below.

Nanomedicine: Gold nanorods, nanostars, and core-shell nanoparticles can be deployed as in vitro and in vivo probes for biosensing and biological imaging. These nanoprobes are functionalized with synthetic ligands for targeted delivery to tumor cells or microbial pathogens, and can be used simultaneously for diagnostic imaging and photoactivated therapies. The relatively new concept of "theragnostics" has now become an important paradigm in the emerging field of nanomedicine.

Glycomimetic chemistry: Heparan sulfate and other cell-surface carbohydrate ligands contain unusual or 'left-handed' sugar residues, whose recognition may depend on a specific bioactive conformation or display of polar functional groups. We have developed synthetic methodologies providing access to new classes of compounds intended to mimic the recognition function of carbohydrates. These glycomimetics can be used to increase the specificity for cell adhesion and for the recognition of heparin-binding proteins, which have numerous roles in inflammation and cancer. We have also used this chemistry to prepare mirror-image carbohydrates, to explore the role of chirality in various aspects of glycobiology.

Selected Publications:

Wang, H.; Huff, T. B.; Zweifel, D. A.; He, W.; Low, P. S.; Wei, A.; Cheng, J.-X. "In vitro and in vivo Two-Photon Luminescence Imaging of Single Gold Nanorods" Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2005, 102, 15752-56.

Fan, R.-H.; Achkar, J.; Hernández-Torres, J. M.; Wei, A. "Orthogonal Sulfation Strategy for Synthetic Heparan Sulfate Libraries" Org. Lett. 2005, 7, 5095-98.

Zhao, Y.; Sadtler, B.; Min, L.; Hockerman, G. H.; Wei, A. "Nanoprobe Implantation into Mammalian Cells by Cationic Transfection" Chem. Commun. 2004, 784-85.

Boulineau, F. P.; Wei, A. "Mirror-Image Carbohydrates: Synthesis of the Unnatural Enantiomer of a Blood Group Trisaccharide" J. Org. Chem. 2004, 69, 3391-99.

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