Chemical biology research scientist with 8 years of experience in Chemistry/Bioinorganic Chemistry and with 8 publications in high-visibility journals, such as JACS, Angewante Chemie, Chem Sci, Inorg Chem. among others over 350 total citations to date.

Strong track record of managing collaborations with researchers from Universities and research institutes.

Professional Education

  • Master of Science, Ewha Womans University (2012)
  • Bachelor of Science, Ewha Womans University (2018)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of California Berkeley (2018)

Stanford Advisors

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Staphylococcus aureus is a commensal human pathogen that is a major cause of infections worldwide. It is the causative agent of life threatening disease over the past two decades including skin and soft tissue, pleuropulmonary, device related infections, osteomyelitis, infective endocarditis, and prosthetic joint infection. The most common methods to monitor infection progress involve the blood cultures, histology, or PCR. These approaches are sensitive, but none allow for noninvasive imaging to determine the precise site or extent infection. Thus, new methods for visualizing the site of infection and subsequent response to treatment would greatly improve current clinical management of S. aureus infection.
I aim to develop imaging tool to monitor infection in vivo that make use of small molecule activity-based probes (ABPs) that specifically target a family of serine hydrolases enzymes in S. aureus. Recently, our group has reported a small molecule that covalently modifies an enzyme found on the S. aureus bacterial cell surface. Subsequent screening of a library of serine hydrolase inhibitors identified JCP251, that selectively targets one of the serine hydrolases on the bacterial surface, named as FphB, through covalent bond formation. Surface-exposed serine hydrolases like FphB are ideal targets for both anti-virulence and imaging agents. My goal is to develop red-shifted fluorescent imaging probes and ultrasound contrast agents based on the selective targeting of JCP251 toward FphB, which will serve as non-invasive probes to visualize sites of infection. Mice infected with S. aureus fphB transposon mutant had much lower bacterial loads in liver and heart tissues, suggesting that FphB is important for and expressed during infection.
I synthesized the red-shifted fluorescent probes through the conjugation of CY5 fluorophore onto JCP251 via click chemistry. SDS–PAGE analysis revealed that JCP251-CY5 labeled FphB enzyme in S. aureus, which is confirmed by comparison with the fphB transposon mutant strain. Confocal fluorescence microscopy experiments with wild-type and and fphB transposon mutant cells revealed that JCP251-CY5 is specific for FphB. To evaluate this probe as a diagnostic agent, I will use a mouse model of S. aureus infection. Mice will be systemically infected via intravenous tail-vein injection or be continually exposed to S. aureus through drinking water. By comparison with the fphB transposon mutant strain infection, the probe will allow the direct imaging of the changes in overall bacterial burden in various tissues (heart, liver, kidney) related to FphB.
Microbubbles (MB), which are gas-filled particles with stabilizing shell, have been reported as an emerging ultrasound contrast agent. Upon injection, MBs remain within the vascular compartment because of their micrometer size, so they are particularly well suited for detecting and monitoring vascular disease. MBs are readily functionalized with appropriate ligands, therefore I hypothesize that JCP251-conjugated MBs will have selective affinity toward S. aureus biofilms and will allow for ultrasound detection of infection.
I conjugated JCP251 to the outer shell in order to generate targeted MBs. Ultrasound imaging will be performed in collaboration with Jeremy Dahl’s lab in Stanford. To test for FphB-dependent accumulation, I will compare the affinities of targeted MBs toward biofilms grown on glass slides from wild-type or fphB mutant S. aureus and then I will use a mouse model of S. aureus infection. S. aureus is the most common cause for endocarditis, therefore, targeted MBs will be especially useful for imaging FphB’s involvement in endocarditis development.
Additionally, antibiotic drugs such as Vancomycin could be loaded on the microbubbles, for release after accumulation at the site of infection. Therefore, targeted MB contrast agents can be used both to diagnose S. aureus infection and to guide decision making for treatment strategies.

Lab Affiliations

All Publications

  • Identification of highly selective covalent inhibitors by phage display. Nature biotechnology Chen, S., Lovell, S., Lee, S., Fellner, M., Mace, P. D., Bogyo, M. 2020


    Molecules that covalently bind macromolecular targets have found widespread applications as activity-based probes and as irreversibly binding drugs. However, the general reactivity of the electrophiles needed for covalent bond formation makes control of selectivity difficult. There is currently no rapid, unbiased screening method to identify new classes of covalent inhibitors from highly diverse pools of candidate molecules. Here we describe a phage display method to directly screen for ligands that bind to protein targets through covalent bond formation. This approach makes use of a reactive linker to form cyclic peptides on the phage surface while simultaneously introducing an electrophilic 'warhead' to covalently react with a nucleophile on the target. Using this approach, we identified cyclic peptides that irreversibly inhibited a cysteine protease and a serine hydrolase with nanomolar potency and exceptional specificity. This approach should enable rapid, unbiased screening to identify new classes of highly selective covalent inhibitors for diverse molecular targets.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41587-020-0733-7

    View details for PubMedID 33199876