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Junghae Suh

Junghae_Suh_webAssociate Professor in Bioengineering

Synthetic Virology Laboratory

Postdoctoral Fellow, Laboratory of Genetics, Salk Institute for Biological Studies (2005-2007)
Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (2004)
B.S., Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1999)

Bio Sketch

Junghae Suh is a specialist in designing and investigating bio-inspired platforms for various applications in biomedicine. In her Synthetic Virology Laboratory at Rice University, she combines broad-based knowledge of synthetic chemistry and molecular/cell biology to harness modern drug and gene delivery technologies and engineer their nanoscale properties for the detection and treatment of a number of human diseases and disorders. Her research has the potential to impact a variety of fields, including tissue engineering and biomedical imaging for early cancer detection.

Prior to joining the Department of Bioengineering as an assistant professor in 2007, Suh worked as an NIH postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies where she investigated the intracellular behavior of human viruses using live-cell fluorescence microscopy. Suh is a 2004 recipient of the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS).

Recent awards Suh has received include an Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering (IBB) Hamill Innovation Award (2008 and 2013), a U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program Concept Award (2009), a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2010), and a grant from the John S. Dunn Foundation to use modified viruses to target and kill metastatic cancer cells (2013). The Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) recognized Suh as a Young Innovator in Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (2014) for her development of tunable virus 'nanonodes' that target and are activated by protease enzyme combinations present around cancer and other diseased tissue sites. More recently, she was awarded the Outstanding New Investigator Award (2016) from the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy.

Research Statement

Suh’s newest research is focused on precisely manipulating the critical features of adeno-associated viruses (AAV) into nanometer-scale devices able to perform desirable complex tasks unseen in nature. These virus-based approaches have tremendous potential to make a profound impact in biomedicine and bioengineering. For example, she is interested in developing virus-inspired nanoparticles able to diagnose and treat human cancer.

In addition, the Suh group utilizes real-time high-resolution fluorescence microscopy techniques to quantify and characterize the transport of biotherapeutics through complex biological barriers, such as the extracellular matrix and the cell cytoplasm. She utilizes fluorescence microscopy techniques in collaboration with several faculty members at Rice to advance high-resolution single-particle tracking approaches. Such studies will help shed light on barriers to efficient delivery of nanotherapeutics to their ultimate biological target.

Projects in Dr. Suh’s Synthetic Virology Laboratory are multi-disciplinary and are orchestrated to drive innovation by working at the interface of various fields, including biophysics, cell biology, regenerative medicine, drug/gene delivery, and biomedical imaging. Through developing collaborations with the Texas Medical Center, Suh’s research will engender various translational diagnostic and therapeutic technologies and novel fluorescence microscopy techniques for biomedicine.