Peng Yin, Ph.D.
Core Faculty Member
Peng's research interest lies at the interface of information science, molecular engineering, and biology. He is currently focused on engineering programmable molecular systems that are inspired by biology, such as the information-directed, self-assembly of nucleic acid (DNA/RNA) structures and devices, and on exploiting such systems to do useful molecular work, such as probing and programming biological processes for imaging and therapeutic applications. Having received a Director's New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health in 2010, he is currently developing new self-assembling nanotechnologies that could transform biological and medical imaging. Imaging probes translate a cell's invisible biological information, such as proteins or RNA molecules, into detectable signals. These signals help researchers better understand the role of cell behavior in the onset and progression of disease. Peng is proposing a novel type of imaging probe based on "triggered" molecular geometry. Such a probe would assemble itself into a prescribed 3D geometric shape upon detecting a target molecule that is readily identifiable. The new method could enable simultaneous imaging of many different types of molecules in a single cell, thus providing researchers with a richer, more accurate view of cell behavior than is possible using current techniques. At the same time, he is pursuing cutting-edge work in information-directed molecular technology through a 2010 Career Award from the National Science Foundation. The goal of this project is to use information to direct the kinetic self-assembly of nucleic acid structures and devices so they can do useful molecular work, such as probing and programming biological processes. The proposed devices could have bioimaging and therapeutic applications.
Peng is an Associate Professor in the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School.