Headshot portrait of Sa Cai - Bio-X Bowes Fellow
Bio-X Graduate Student Fellow

Awarded in 2022
Home Department: Materials Science & Engineering
Faculty Advisors: Stanley Qi (Bioengineering) and Guosong Hong (Materials Science & Engineering)

Research Title: Developing Genetic Photothermal Systems (GPS) for Non-invasive, High Precision Cell Therapy

Research Description: Near-infrared (NIR) photothermal effect offers a high precision option for cell therapy by converting deep tissue penetrable NIR light into heat. However, current photothermal biomaterials are often invasive, hard to deliver, and can induce immune rejection. Here, Sa, Dr Qi, and Dr. Hong aim to apply biomolecular engineering to develop a novel genetic photothermal system (GPS) that can efficiently convert NIR to heat inside human cells. Applying photothermal effects to both tumor and CAR T cells, they will characterize remote NIR-mediated precise and non-invasive cell therapy using a brain tumor mouse model. Utilizing the deep penetration of NIR, GPS offers a paradigm shift for safe cell therapy for diseases.