Zhang, Xiaojing

Xiaojing (John) Zhang

Our current research focus is on the development of miniature tools with which to describe cellular processes quantitatively. Using these novel cell-machine interfaces, we can investigate, with extremely high spatial-temporal resolution, the impact of both genetic variation and microenvironmental perturbation can be investigated on intra-cellular biochemical signaling pathways, cell mechanics and the robustness of development networks. In particular, we are integrating live imaging functionalities and photonics based cell manipulations with microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), microfluidics and nanotechnology to understand the regulation of gene expression under controlled perturbations. We are developing a uniquely integrated sub-cellular scale surgery, force sensing and in vivo microscopy technology that are broadly applicable across a wide range of molecular dynamics studies in live cells and embryos. The technique’s capabilities will be demonstrated by studying the dynamic structure-function relationship of live cells and embryos as it responses to local environmental perturbation. A combination of genetic regulation and microenvironmental perturbation might prove especially useful for identifying the fundamental mechanisms responsible for development biology and critical bio-chemical networks. This could transform our understanding of genomics, proteomics, and drug discovery and lead to personalized drugs and molecular diagnostics, resulting in both more efficient medical practice and improved healthcare.

Microsystems for controlled genetic perturbation – RNA interference, Development Robustness and Drug Screening (2009) Journal of Microfluidics and Nanofluidics 6, 299-313.


Near-field scanning optical microscopy with nanometer-sized light emitting diode (2008) Applied Physics Letters 92, 131106.


Nano-Opto-Mechanical Characterization of Neuron Membrane Mechanics under Cellular Growth and Differentiation (2008) Biomedical Microdevices 10, 611-622.


Single molecular stamping of sub-10nm colloidal quantum dot array (2008) Langmuir 24, 13804-13808.


Micro-optical Characterization of Piezoelectric Vibratory Microinjections on Drosophila Embryos for Genome-wide RNAi Screen (2006) Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems 15-2, 1-11.