Huang, FDA Team Up to Advance Fluorophore Safety-Related Regulatory Science

Huang, FDA Team Up to Advance Fluorophore Safety-Related Regulatory Science

Huang, FDA Team Up to Advance Fluorophore Safety-Related Regulatory Science

Dr. Huang Chiao (Joe) Huang
Dr. Huang Chiao (Joe) Huang

Fischell Department of Bioengineering Assistant Professor Huang Chiao (Joe) Huang is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to undertake regulatory research into emerging fluorescence imaging combination products, such as those used during surgery to detect and remove cancer. 

In recent years, the use of fluorophores – fluorescent chemical compounds that absorb light in one color and re-emit light at another color – to differentiate diseased tissue from healthy tissue has gained popularity in the clinic. Such technology can prove critical in procedures to detect cancer and help surgeons remove tumor cells more precisely. Before being used in the clinic, these fluorophores need to be proven safe for human use.  This includes determining that agents are not toxic to healthy cells, including that significant phototoxicity – damage by light-induced activation of agents – will not occur.   To usher this technology into a clinical setting, the scientific community needs to learn more about the phototoxic potential of existing agents as well as identify best practices for evaluating new agents.

The Huang Lab is working with Dr. Joshua Pfefer and Dr. Rosalie K. Elespuru of the FDA’s Office of Science and Engineering Labs to establish standardized methods for evaluating phototoxicity of fluorescence imaging products in living cells. The research trio is pursuing this work as an NSF Scholars-in-Residence project. They aim to develop new knowledge and testing tools to further timely clinical translation of these technologies. 

"We have all witnessed remarkable advances in fluorophores that light up cancer cells or other anatomical structures for precision surgical therapy.” said Huang. "Although useful, the potential for phototoxicity and the resultant impact on patient safety warrants further analysis. With the support from NSF, the knowledge gained from the UMD-FDA collaboration project can help facilitate the timely clinical translation of safe and effective fluorophores for applications such as interoperative visualization of cancer."

"This collaborative research project is intended to help fill a gap in knowledge and test methods that has become increasingly important in recent years, given the rising level of activity towards clinical translation of contrast-enhanced fluorescence imaging systems. We are very excited to be working together to develop approaches with the potential to improve public health.” said Drs. Pfefer and Elespuru.

 The NSF – through its Directorate for Engineering, the Directorate of Computer and Information Science and Engineering Division of Computer and Network Systems, and the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences Division of Materials Research – along with the FDA – through its Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) – have established the NSF/FDA Scholar-in-Residence Program at FDA. This program comprises an interagency partnership for the investigation of scientific and engineering issues concerning emerging trends in medical device technology. This partnership is designed to enable investigators in science, engineering, and computer science to develop research collaborations within the intramural research environment at the FDA.

 For more information about this project and the NSF/FDA SIR program, contact

Related Articles:
M-CERSI Accepting Applications for Workshops, Research Scientists
"America's Got Regulatory Science Talent" Competition Call for Participants
Kollár Receives NSF MRI Grant to Enhance Micro/Nanofabrication Initiatives
UMD Wins $5M Phase 2 NSF Convergence Accelerator Award
Using Light to Attack Cancer
Celebrating 14 Participants of 2021 BIOE REU Program
NCC-PDI to Host Pediatric Device Innovators Forum
Duncan Earns NSF Career Award to Advance Gene Therapy
Four Clark School Faculty Receive CAREER Awards
Patsy Granted NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

March 11, 2021

Prev   Next

Current Headlines

Wood That Can Cut Like Steel, Be Molded Like Plastic or Build Batteries?

How does the brain turn heard sounds into comprehensible language?

UMD-Led Team Wins NSF Award for Rapid Materials Design

Moldable Wood from Water ‘Shock’ Process

Das publishes new work in ACS Nano

Expanded Wood Fiber for High-Performance Solid-State Paper Batteries

Michael Fu part of NSF project to improve kidney transplant access and decision-making

Alumna Project Manager for NASA’s First Mission to Study Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids

News Resources

Return to Newsroom

Search News

Archived News

Events Resources

Events Calendar