Erik Rodriguez, PhD
Affiliation: Cancer Biology Research Program, Chemistry
Researcher Bio:

Throughout my doctoral and post-doctoral training, I have pursued research in biological and chemical tool development to elucidate biology. In my doctoral work at Caltech with Dennis A. Dougherty and Henry A. Lester, I developed orthogonal suppressor tRNAs to site-specifically incorporate multiple unnatural amino acids in vivo. I received broad training in chemical biology, biochemistry, and neurobiology. My postdoctoral work at UCSD with Roger Y. Tsien enhanced my expertise to include evolving and characterizing fluorescent proteins, fluorescence imaging, cell culture, and animal imaging. I enjoy collaborating to gain knowledge in diverse fields and to ensure my tools are utilized. The newly evolved fluorescent protein is biophysically the brightest far-red fluorescent protein created, so far, and comparable to jellyfish derived fluorescent proteins. Richard Ting (Weill Cornell Medicine) and I developed dual-modality imaging (near-infrared fluorescence and positron emission tomography) agents to image cancer, strokes, and cerebrospinal fluid in living mice, which will be tested in humans. Visit the Rodriguez Lab website.

Research Summary:

My lab will continue to develop new fluorescent proteins, protein labeling tags, and tools for imaging human maladies.

I will evolve new fluorescent proteins with unique properties compared to currently available fluorescent proteins. New biosensors will be created and characterized for sensing calcium, cAMP, voltage, and other molecules or chemical properties of the cell. Improving genetically encoded, photoacoustic imaging probes will allow for deeper imaging than single photon fluorescence for non-invasive optical imaging in living animals. A far-red and near-infrared fluorescence cell cycle indicator has been developed and biological applications in cancer will be explored.

Richard Ting (Weill Cornell Medicine) and I will continue to develop probes. The new fluorescent protein was evolved to express in large quantities (grams are easily purified in <24 hours). The protein is an excellent scaffold or nanocarrier for attachment of chemical molecules to enhance signal to noise for positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. Additionally, cancer drugs can be attached for drug delivery and location is verified with imaging.

View publications on PubMed

Research Interests: Cancer and Human Disease Imaging, Drug Delivery