Vu Nanobiotechnology and Cell Molecular Imaging Laboratory



Oregon Health & Science University
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Mail code: CH13B
3303 SW Bond Avenue, Portland, OR 97239

About Us

The Vu Research Group is a part of the Oregon Health & Science University Department of Biomedical Engineering and the OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine. We develop imaging nanotechnologies in order to study and diagnose aberrant cellular signaling in disease at the level of single molecules in single cells. These new technologies allow us to detect the amount and sub-cellular location of key cellular signaling proteins with cutting-edge of sensitivity and spatial resolution. Using such new technological capabilities, we seek to understand how cell function emerges from the spatiotemporal interactions of a groups of single proteins. A primary effort is to work with clinicians and industrial partners to translate our technologies into concrete molecular-based personalized diagnostics in the area of cancer and neurological disorders.


Our work uses a multi-disciplinary approach that draws from neuroscience, chemistry, and biophysics and is seated in the emerging fields of bio-nanotechnology and nanomedicine. Current projects include:

  • Quantum dot imaging for sensitive detection of oncogenic tyrosine kinase signaling in leukemia and solid tumor cancers (collaboration with Knight Cancer Institute and industry)
  • Quantum dot technology to understand drug-modulated serotonin receptor trafficking in major depression (collaboration with Rockefeller University)
  • High resolution spatiotemporal dynamics of BDNF growth factor signaling in 3-D cellular environments
  • Imaging algorithms for 3D tracking and complex single molecule subcellular image extraction (collaboration with University of New Mexico)
  • Neurotransmitter nanosensors (collaboration with Portland State University)



Tania Vu, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Phone: 503 418-9313
Faculty Profile: Tania Vu Biomedical Engineering Faculty page
Vu Laboratory website:

OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine
Knight Cancer Institute
Neuroscience Graduate Program

Error in element (see logs)

(L to R): Katye Fichter, Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Fellow;
Thomas Jacob
, Ph.D., Sr. Research Associate;
Anke Vermehren Schmaedick
, Ph.D., and Research Associate.

Error in element (see logs)

(L to R): Simona Patange, Tanya Talkar, and Dan Sakaguchi, Research Interns


Please contact Dr. Tania Vu for information regarding the availability of post-doctoral and graduate fellowship positions in the lab.

Current and Upcoming Classes

BME 590 - CRN 32105 - Topics in Nanomedicine
BME 690 - CRN 32105 - Topics in Nanomedicine

Instructors: Tania Vu and Wassana Yantasee
Location: Center for Heath & Healing - Room 13030 (Directions)



  • Beth A. Manhat, Anna L. Brown, Labe A. Black, J. B. Alexander Ross, Katye Fichter, Tania Vu, Erik Richman, and Andrea M. Goforth. One-Step Melt Synthesis of Water-Soluble, Photoluminescent, Surface-Oxidized Silicon Nanoparticles for Cellular Imaging Applications. Chem Mat. 2011. (PDF)


  • Fichter KM, Flajolet M, Greengard P, Vu TQ. Kinetics of G-protein-coupled receptor endosomal trafficking pathways revealed by single quantum dots. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 107(43):18658-63, 2010.
  • Long BR and Vu TQ. Spatial structure and diffusive dynamics from single particle trajectories using spline analysis. Biophysical Journal, 98(8):1712-21, 2010. (PDF)
  • Nanotechnology Research: Applications in Nutritional Sciences. Srinivas PR, Philbert M, Vu TQ, Huang, Q, Kokini JL, Saos E, Chen H, Peterson CM, Friedl KE, McDade-Ngutter C, Hubbard V, Starke-Reed P, Miller N, Betz JM, Dwyer J, Milner J, Ross SA. The Journal of Nutrition. 140(1):119-24, 2010. (PDF)


  • Scholl B, Liu HY, Long BR, McCarty OJ, O'Hare T, Druker BJ, Vu TQ. Single Particle quantum dot imaging achieves ultrasensitive detection capabilities for Western immunoblot analysis. ACS Nano, 3(6): 1318-28, 2009. (PDF)
  • Altick AL, Baryshnikova LM, Vu, TQ, von Bartheld CS. Quantitative Analysis of Multivesicular Bodies (MVBs) in the Hypoglossal Nerve: Evidence that Neurotrophic Factors do not use MVBs for Retrograde Axonal Transport. J Comp Neurology, 514(6):641-57, 2009. (PDF)
  • Fichter KM, Ardeshiri A, and Vu TQ. Tracking Single Biomolecules in Live Cells Using Quantum Dots. Series Eds: Yarmush, ML and Langer RS. Methods in Bioengineering Series. Artech House.
  • Vu TQ and Liu HY. Quantum Dot Hybrid Gel Blotting: A Technique for Identification of Quantum Dot-Protein/Protein-Protein Interactions. In: Nanoscale Molecular-Interaction Technologies in Manipulation of Biomolecules. Eds. Lee, JW and Foote, RS. Methods in Molecular Biology, 544:381-91, 2009.


  • Sundara Rajan S, Liu HY, and Vu TQ. Ligand-Bound Quantum Dots for Studying the Molecular Scale Dynamics of Receptor Endocytic Trafficking in Live Cells. ACS Nano, 2(6), 1153-1166, 2008. (PDF)
  • Pattani VP, Li C, Desai TA, and Vu TQ. Microcontact Printing of Quantum Dot Bioconjugate Arrays For Localized Capture and Detection of Biomolecules, Biomedical Microdevices, 10(3):367-73, 2008. (PDF)
  • Zhang F, Ulrich B, Reddy RK, Venkatraman VL, Prasad S, Vu TQ, and Hsu ST. Fabrication of Submicron IrO2 Nanowire Array Biosensor Platform by Conventional Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor Process. Japanese Journal of Applied Physics, 47(2):1147-1151, 2008.
  • Vartanian KB, Kirkpatrick SJ, McCarty OJ, Vu TQ, Hanson SR, Hinds MT. Distinct Extracellular Matrix Microenvironments of Progenitor and Carotid Endothelial Cells. J Biomed Mater Res A, (epub ahead of print), 2008.

Related Patent: Nanoparticle Platforms for Sorting, Capture, and Placement of Cells


  • Liu HY and Vu TQ. Identification of Quantum Dot Bioconjugates and Cellular Protein Co-localization by Hybrid Gel BLotting. Nano Letters, 7(4):1044-9, 2007. (PDF)
  • Vu TQ, Sundara Rajan S, and Liu HY. Ligand Bound Quantum Dots for Intracellular Imaging of NeuralReceptors. Proceedings of SPIE, Colloidal Quantum Dots for Biomedical Appliations, Vol. 6448, 2007.

Related Patent: A Method for Separation and Identification of Proteins Using Unconventional Gel Electrophoresis and Nanoparticle Quantum Dot Tags


  • Sundara Rajan S and Vu, TQ. Quantum Dots Monitor TrkA Receptor Dynamics in the Interior of Neural PC12 Cells. Nano Letters 2006 Sep;6(9):2049-59. (PDF)
  • Vu TQ, Rajan SS. Quantum Dot Imaging in for Imaging and Diagnostics. In: At the Building Block Level: Nanotechnology for Biology and Medicine, Editor: Silva, GA. Springer Scientific, (submitted) 2005.
  • Vu TQ, Maddipati R, Blute TA, Nehilla BJ, Nusblat L, and Desai TA. Peptide-Conjugated Quantum Dots Activate Neuronal Receptors and Initiate Downstream Signaling of Neurite Growth, Nano Letters 5(4): 603-607, 2005. (PDF)
  • Nehilla, BJ; Vu, TQ; Desai, TA. Stoichiometry-Dependent Formation of Quantum Dot-Antibody Bioconjugates: A Complementary Atomic Force Microscopy and Agarose Gel Electrophoresis Study. J. Phys. Chem. B. 109(44); 20724-20730, 2005. (PDF)
  • Vu TQ, Maddipati R, Blute TA, Nehilla BJ, Nusblat L, and Desai TA. Ligand-conjugated quantum dots for targeted drug delivery to nerve cells. Proceedings of the Special Topic Conference on Microtechnologies, IEEE in Engineering in Biology and Medicine, Hawaii, pg.152-3, 2005.
  • Vu TQ, Qian H, Standaert RF, Chowdhurry S, Pepperberg DR. Activation of Neural Receptor Channels Using Neurotransmitter Conjugates Designed for Surface Attachment. Biomaterials, 25(14):1605-2195, 2005. (PDF)

Pre - 2005

  • Nehilla BJ, Popat KC, Vu TQ, Chowdhurry S, Standaert RF, Pepperberg DR, and Desai TA. A Neurotransmitter Analog Tethered to a Silicon Platform for Neuro-bioMEMS Applications, Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 87(5):669-674, 2004. (PDF)
  • Saifuddin U*,Vu TQ*, Rezac M, Qian H, Pepperberg DR, Desai TA. Toward Development of Bioactive, Neurotransmitter-immobilized Surfaces for Interaction with Post-synaptic Membrane Receptors. Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, 66A(1):184-191, 2003. (*co-authors) . (PDF)
  • Vu TQ, Payne JA, Copenhagen DC. Localization and developmental expression patterns of the neuronal K-Cl cotransporter (KCC2) in the rat retina. Journal of Neuroscience 20(4):1414-23, 2000. (PDF)
  • Krizaj D, Vu TQ, and Copenhagen, DC. On the shaping, modulation, and synaptic transmission of rod and cone light responses. In The Retinal Basis of Vision, Toyoda, J., Murakami, M., Kaneko, A., and Saito, T., Eds. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1999.
  • Vu TQ, McCarthy ST, and Owen WG. Linear transduction of natural stimuli by dark-adapted and light-adapted rods of the tiger salamander, Tigris Ambystoma. Journal of Physiology 505 (1): 193-204, 1997. (PDF)