1. Our lab is interested in the engineering and clinical translation of hybrid constructs comprised of biological and organic materials as photo-activated theransotic agents for optical imaging and phototherapy of specific diseases. In 
doing so, our laboratory has developed platforms derived from mammalian cells (erythrocytes) as well as genome-depleted plant-infecting viruses that can be doped with various near infrared organic chromophores. We are pursuing the utility of these constructs for photo-treatment of port wine stain lesions, and cancer imaging.

2. Membrane-based Energy Transduction. Composition of the cell membrane, and the interactions between the membrane and the cytoskeleton influence the material properties of the cell membrane. These properties contribute 
to regulation of various types of energy transduction processes, and can ultimately 
affect numerous functions including motility, transmembrane transport, and cell differentiation (Fig. 2). An exquisite example of a membrane-based energy transduction process is theelectromotility of the outer hair cells (OHCs) within the cochlea. Using optical tweezers and fluorescence imaging, we quantify the electro-mechanical properties of cell membranes. These activities are carried out in collaboration with Dr. William E. Brownell and Dr. Brenda Farrell at Baylor College of Medicine, and Dr. Alexander Spector at Johns Hopkins University.