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Hetercorrelated Chemical Imaging

Molecular etiology of cancer. We are developing a powerful new approach to mapping the molecular characteristics of cancer cells in space and time, through cross-platform correlation of confocal Raman microscopic (CRM) and mass spectrometric images (MSI). We obtain detailed chemical and structural maps that combine information about disparate molecular components, for example correlated changes in protein expression and lipid organization, which can only be studied in isolation with current imaging technology. Combining chemical images from Raman scattering and mass spectrometry is neither straightforward nor obvious, but it has the potential to transform how cancer biologists explore the molecular and cellular bases of cancer.

Microbial communities

Microbial communities constitute microscopic environmental systems of extraordinary complexity and inter-relatedness. Correlated chemical imaging, employing CRM and MSI is also being applied to microbial communities, both in isolation and when combined with other components. For example, understanding how molecular secretion is used by microbes to remodel their immediate environment and to communicate with other bacterial cells is a crucially important key to understanding how collections of bacteria act collectively and synergistically to advance multispecies organizates, such as those existing in the microrhyzosphere, or deleterious biofilms present in health care environments that are responsible for nosocomial disease. We are collaborating with researchers at Oak Ridge National Lab and UIUC to carry out these studies that have such large application to bioenergy.