Currently, Cheng is working on light-sound molecular imaging technology and its applications to solve key science questions in medicine. His core expertise includes 1) the stimulation and imaging techniques using light & sound and 2) the design and synthesis of functional imaging contrast agents.

Cheng received his Ph.D. (2018) in biomedical engineering (BME) from HK PolyU under the supervision of Prof. Lei Sun. He was involved in the photoacoustic and ultrasound molecular imaging of the tumor microenvironment. After that, he moved to the Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford (MIPS) in the Department of Radiology and spent one year as a postdoc working with Prof. Katherine Ferrara, where he learned the in vivo gene (e.g., mRNA) delivery technology by using lipid nanoparticles. After that, he moved to Prof. Jianghong Rao’s group in MIPS to develop background-free photoacoustic molecular imaging. From 2022 until now, Cheng has been working with Prof. Steven Chu (1997 Nobel Prize in Physics) in the Department of Physics and the Department of Molecular & Cellular Physiology. In Chu's lab, Cheng focuses more on molecular ultrasound imaging contrast agents and biophysical mechanisms.

Cheng has been presented with several research awards from the World Molecular Imaging Society (WMIS), including Shark Tank Competition Finalist (WMIC2018), Industry Selected Poster Award (WMIC2017), Student Travel Stipend Award (WMIC2018 & 2017).

Honors & Awards

  • Shark Tank Competition Finalist, World Molecular Imaging Society (WMIS) (2018)
  • Student Travel Stipend Award (WMIC2018), World Molecular Imaging Society (WMIS) (2018)
  • Chinese Students Poster Competition Gold Award, World Molecular Imaging Congress (WMIC) (2017)
  • Industry Selected Poster Award (WMIC2017), World Molecular Imaging Society (WMIS) (2017)
  • Student Travel Stipend Award (WMIC2017), World Molecular Imaging Society (WMIS) (2017)
  • Best Poster Award, 2nd International Molecular Imaging Summit (IMIS), Xiamen, China PR (2015)
  • Student Travel Stipend, IEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium (IUS), Chicago, USA (2014)
  • Top Prize Student Research Award, Hong Kong Medical and Healthcare Device Industries Association (HKMHDIA) (2013)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Member, World Molecular Imaging Society (WMIC) (2016 - Present)
  • Member, IEEE Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control (UFFC), Ultrasonics Society (2013 - Present)
  • Founding Chair, IEEE Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control (UFFC), Ultrasonics Society, HK PolyU Student Branch (2016 - Present)

Professional Education

  • Bachelor of Engineering, Southern Medical University, Biomedical Engineering (2009)
  • Master of Philosophy, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Biomedical Engineering (2014)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Biomedical Engineering (2018)

Stanford Advisors



Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Fun & joy in open science

Lab Affiliations

All Publications

  • Reversibly Photoswitching Upconversion Nanoparticles for Super-Sensitive Photoacoustic Molecular Imaging Angewandte Chemie International Edition (selected as the Very Important Paper (VIP)) Liu, C., Zheng, X., Dai, T., Wang, H., Chen, X., Chen, B., Sun, T., Wang, F., Chu, S., Rao, J. 2022

    View details for DOI 10.1002/anie.202116802

  • Quantitative characterization of the colorectal cancer in a rabbit model using high-frequency endoscopic ultrasound Ultrasonics Liu, C., Yang, Y., Qiu, W., Chen, Y., Dai, J., Sun, L. 2021; 110
  • Multispectral Photoacoustic Imaging of Tumor Protease Activity with a Gold Nanocage-Based Activatable Probe Molecular Imaging and Biology Liu, C., Li, S., Gu, Y., Xiong, H., Wong, W., Sun, L. 2018; 20: 919–929
  • Real-time optical oximetry during FLASH radiotherapy using a phosphorescent nanoprobe. Radiotherapy and oncology : journal of the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology Ha, B., Liang, K., Liu, C., Melemenidis, S., Manjappa, R., Viswanathan, V., Das, N., Ashraf, R., Lau, B., Soto, L., Graves, E. E., Rao, J., Loo, B. W., Pratx, G. 2022


    The rapid depletion of oxygen during irradiation at ultra-high dose rate calls for tissue oximeters capable of high temporal resolution. This study demonstrates a water-soluble phosphorescent nanoprobe and fiber-coupled instrument, which together are used to measure the kinetics of oxygen depletion at 200 Hz during irradiation of in vitro solutions.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.radonc.2022.08.011

    View details for PubMedID 35964762

  • Wrapping Porphyromonas gingivalis for tumor microenvironment immunomodulation and photothermal immunotherapy NANO TODAY Chen, Q., Liu, C., Liu, C., Zhong, D., Hua, S., He, J., Wang, K., Zhou, M. 2021; 41
  • Systemic Immunotherapy with Micellar Resiquimod-Polymer Conjugates Triggers a Robust Antitumor Response in a Breast Cancer Model. Advanced healthcare materials Kakwere, H. n., Zhang, H. n., Ingham, E. S., Nura-Raie, M. n., Tumbale, S. K., Allen, R. n., Tam, S. M., Wu, B. n., Liu, C. n., Kheirolomoom, A. n., Fite, B. Z., Ilovitsh, A. n., Lewis, J. S., Ferrara, K. W. 2021: e2100008


    Resiquimod is an immunopotent toll-like receptor 7/8 agonist with antitumor activity. Despite being potent against skin cancers, it is poorly tolerated systemically due to toxicity. Integrating resiquimod into nanoparticles presents an avenue to circumvent the toxicity problem. Herein, the preparation of degradable nanoparticles with covalently bound resiquimod and their systemic application in cancer immunotherapy is reported. Dispersion in water of amphiphilic constructs integrating resiquimod covalently bound via degradable amide or ester linkages yields immune-activating nanoparticles. The degradable agonist-nanoparticle bonds allow the release of resiquimod from the carrier nanoparticles. In vitro assays with antigen presenting cells demonstrate that the nanoparticles retain the immunostimulatory activity of resiquimod. Systemic administration of the nanoparticles and checkpoint blockade (aPD-1) to a breast cancer mouse model with multiple established tumors triggers antitumor activity evidenced by suppressed tumor growth and enhanced CD8+ T-cell infiltration. Nanoparticles with ester links, which hydrolyze more readily, yield a stronger immune response with 75% of tumors eliminated when combined with aPD-1. The reduced tumor growth and the presence of activated CD8+ T-cells across multiple tumors suggest the potential for treating metastatic cancer.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/adhm.202100008

    View details for PubMedID 33646600

  • InVivo Molecular Ultrasound Assessment of Glioblastoma Neovasculature with Endoglin-Targeted Microbubbles Contrast Media & Molecular Imaging Liu, C., Yan, F., Xu, Y., Zheng, H., Sun, L. 2018; 2018

    View details for DOI 10.1155/2018/8425495

  • A flexible annular-array imaging platform for micro-ultrasound IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control Qiu, W., Yu, Y., Chabok, H. R., Liu, C., Tsang, F., Zhou, Q., Shung, K., Zheng, H., Sun, L. 2013; 60 (1): 178 - 186

    View details for DOI 10.1109/TUFFC.2013.2548