Honors & Awards

  • Cancer-Translational Nanotechnology Training (Cancer-TNT) Program, Stanford (August 2016-August 2019)
  • Pacifichem Travel Award, Department of Energy (December 2015)
  • Poster Award, World Molecular Imaging Congress (September 2015)
  • Student Travel Award, World Molecular Imaging Congress (September 2015)
  • STEM Professional Development on Teaching Program, CUNY (Summer 2014)
  • Doctoral student travel grant, CUNY (2014)
  • Med Chem Sci-mix presenter, American Chemical Society (September 2013)
  • Med Chem Travel Grant, American Chemical Society (September 2013)
  • Poster Presenter Award Finalist, World Molecular Imaging Congress (September 2013)
  • NIH Clinical Center’s Clinical and Translational Program, National Institutes of Health (Summer 2013)

Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, CUNY Graduate School and University Center (2016)
  • Bachelor of Science, Gannon University (2011)
  • Master of Philosophy, CUNY Graduate School and University Center (2013)

Stanford Advisors


  • Travis Shaffer, Edwin Pratt, Jan Grimm. "United StatesEnhanced Cerenkov Luminescence Using High Refractive Index Nanoparticles.", MSKCC
  • Matthew Wall, Travis Shaffer, Stefan Harmsen, Jan Grimm, Moritz Kircher. "United StatesMETAL(LOID) CHALCOGEN NANOPARTICLES AS UNIVERSAL BINDERS FOR MEDICAL ISOTOPES.", MSKCC

Lab Affiliations

All Publications

  • Nanoparticles as multimodal photon transducers of ionizing radiation Nature Nanotechnology Pratt, E., Shaffer, T. M., Qize, Z., Drain, C., Grimm, J. 2018: 418–26


    In biomedical imaging, nanoparticles combined with radionuclides that generate Cerenkov luminescence are used in diagnostic imaging, photon-induced therapies and as activatable probes. In these applications, the nanoparticle is often viewed as a carrier inert to ionizing radiation from the radionuclide. However, certain phenomena such as enhanced nanoparticle luminescence and generation of reactive oxygen species cannot be completely explained by Cerenkov luminescence interactions with nanoparticles. Herein, we report methods to examine the mechanisms of nanoparticle excitation by radionuclides, including interactions with Cerenkov luminescence, β particles and γ radiation. We demonstrate that β-scintillation contributes appreciably to excitation and reactivity in certain nanoparticle systems, and that excitation by radionuclides of nanoparticles composed of large atomic number atoms generates X-rays, enabling multiplexed imaging through single photon emission computed tomography. These findings demonstrate practical optical imaging and therapy using radionuclides with emission energies below the Cerenkov threshold, thereby expanding the list of applicable radionuclides.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41565-018-0086-2

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5973484

  • Utilizing the power of Cerenkov light with nanotechnology Nature Nanotechnology Shaffer, T. M., Pratt, E. C., Grimm, J. 2017: 106–117

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nnano.2016.301

  • Chelator-Free Radiolabeling of SERRS Nanoparticles for Whole-Body PET and Intraoperative Raman Imaging. Theranostics Wall, M., Shaffer, T. M. 2017: 3068–77


    A single contrast agent that offers whole-body non-invasive imaging along with the superior sensitivity and spatial resolution of surface-enhanced resonance Raman scattering (SERRS) imaging would allow both pre-operative mapping and intraoperative imaging and thus be highly desirable. We hypothesized that labeling our recently reported ultrabright SERRS nanoparticles with a suitable radiotracer would enable pre-operative identification of regions of interest with whole body imaging that can be rapidly corroborated with a Raman imaging device or handheld Raman scanner in order to provide high precision guidance during surgical procedures. Here we present a straightforward new method that produces radiolabeled SERRS nanoparticles for combined positron emission tomography (PET)-SERRS tumor imaging without requiring the attachment of molecular chelators. We demonstrate the utility of these PET-SERRS nanoparticles in several proof-of-concept studies including lymph node (LN) tracking, intraoperative guidance for LN resection, and cancer imaging after intravenous injection. We anticipate that the radiolabeling method presented herein can be applied generally to nanoparticle substrates of various materials by first coating them with a silica shell and then applying the chelator-free protocol.

    View details for DOI 10.7150/thno.18019

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5566106

  • Radiation Responsive Esculin-derived Molecular Gels as Signal Enhancers for Optical Imaging. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces Julian, S., Zhang, Q., Pramanik, N., Samateh, M., Shaffer, T. M., Sagiri, S., Grimm, J., John, G. 2017

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acsami.7b15548

  • Near-Infrared Intraoperative Chemiluminescence Imaging. ChemMedChem Büchel, G. E., Carney, B., Shaffer, T. M., Tang, J., Austin, C., Arora, M., Zeglis, B. M., Grimm, J., Eppinger, J., Reiner, T. 2016

    View details for DOI 10.1002/cmdc.201600301.

  • Near-infrared quantum dot and (89)Zr dual-labeled nanoparticles for in vivo Cerenkov imaging. Bioconjugate chemistry Zhao, Y., Shaffer, T., Das, S., Perez-Medina, C., Mulder, W. J., Grimm, J. 2016


    Cerenkov luminescence (CL) is an emerging imaging modality that utilizes the light generated during the radioactive decay of many clinical used isotopes. Although it is increasingly used for background-free imaging and deep tissue photodynamic therapy, in vivo applications of CL suffer from limited tissue penetration. Here, we propose to use quantum dots (QDs) as spectral converters that can transfer the CL UV-blue emissions to near-infrared light that is less scattered or absorbed in vivo. Experiments on tissue phantoms showed enhanced penetration depth and increased transmitted intensity for CL in the presence of NIR QDs. To realize this concept for in vivo imaging applications, we developed three types of NIR QDs and 89Zr dual-labeled nanoparticles based on lipid micelles, nanoemulsions, and polymeric nanoplatforms, which enable co-delivery of the radionuclide and the QDs for maximized spectral conversion efficiency. We finally demonstrated the application of these self-illuminating nanoparticles for imaging of lymph nodes and tumors in a prostate cancer mouse model.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.6b00687

    View details for PubMedID 28026929

  • Optical imaging of ionizing radiation from clinical sources. Journal of Nuclear Medicine Shaffer, T. M., Drain, C. M., Grimm, J. 2016
  • Stable radiolabeling of sulfur-functionalized silica nanoparticles with copper-64. Nano Letters Shaffer, T. M., Harmsen, S., Khwaja, E., Kircher, M. F., Drain, C. M., Grimm, J. 2016
  • Nanoparticles and radiotracers: advances toward radionanomedicine. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Nanomed Nanobiotechnol. Pratt, E. C., Shaffer, T. M., Grimm, J. 2016

    View details for DOI 10.1002/wnan

  • Multifunctional MRI/PET Nanobeacons Derived from the in Situ Self-Assembly of Translational Polymers and Clinical Cargo through Coalescent Intermolecular Forces NANO LETTERS Kaittanis, C., Shaffer, T. M., Bolaender, A., Appelbaum, Z., Appelbaum, J., Chiosis, G., Grimm, J. 2015; 15 (12): 8032-8043


    Novel multifunctional platforms are needed for oncology in order to assist physicians during surgery and chemotherapy. In the present study, we show that polymeric nanobeacons, consisting of the glucose-based polymer dextran, can be used to guide surgery and improve drug delivery. For imaging, the nanobeacons stably retained the positron emitter 89-zirconium and the MRI contrast agent gadolinium, without the need of a chelator. In addition to using them for PET imaging, the (89)Zr-nanobeacons guided the surgical resection of sentinel lymph nodes, utilizing their inherent Cerenkov luminescence. Through weak electrostatic interactions, the nanoparticles carried combinations of chemotherapeutics for the simultaneous inhibition of oncogenic pathways, resulting in enhanced tumor regression. The nanobeacons also allowed monitoring of drug release via MRI, through the quenching of the gadolinium signal by the coloaded drug, making them a new multifunctional theranostic nanotechnology platform for the clinic.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b03370

    View details for Web of Science ID 000366339600038

    View details for PubMedID 26540670

  • Silica Nanoparticles as Substrates for Chelator-free Labeling of Oxophilic Radioisotopes NANO LETTERS Shaffer, T. M., Wall, M. A., Harmsen, S., Longo, V. A., Drain, C. M., Kircher, M. F., Grimm, J. 2015; 15 (2): 864-868


    Chelator-free nanoparticles for intrinsic radiolabeling are highly desirable for whole-body imaging and therapeutic applications. Several reports have successfully demonstrated the principle of intrinsic radiolabeling. However, the work done to date has suffered from much of the same specificity issues as conventional molecular chelators, insofar as there is no singular nanoparticle substrate that has proven effective in binding a wide library of radiosotopes. Here we present amorphous silica nanoparticles as general substrates for chelator-free radiolabeling and demonstrate their ability to bind six medically relevant isotopes of various oxidation states with high radiochemical yield. We provide strong evidence that the stability of the binding correlates with the hardness of the radioisotope, corroborating the proposed operating principle. Intrinsically labeled silica nanoparticles prepared by this approach demonstrate excellent in vivo stability and efficacy in lymph node imaging.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/nl503522y

    View details for Web of Science ID 000349578000010

    View details for PubMedID 25559467

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4412311

  • Environment-responsive nanophores for therapy and treatment monitoring via molecular MRI quenching NATURE COMMUNICATIONS Kaittanis, C., Shaffer, T. M., Ogirala, A., Santra, S., Perez, J. M., Chiosis, G., Li, Y., Josephson, L., Grimm, J. 2014; 5


    The effective delivery of therapeutics to disease sites significantly contributes to drug efficacy, toxicity and clearance. Here we demonstrate that clinically approved iron oxide nanoparticles (Ferumoxytol) can be utilized to carry one or multiple drugs. These so called 'nanophores' retain their cargo within their polymeric coating through weak electrostatic interactions and release it in slightly acidic conditions (pH 6.8 and below). The loading of drugs increases the nanophores' transverse T2 and longitudinal T1 nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) proton relaxation times, which is proportional to amount of carried cargo. Chemotherapy with translational nanophores is more effective than the free drug in vitro and in vivo, without subjecting the drugs or the carrier nanoparticle to any chemical modification. Evaluation of cargo incorporation and payload levels in vitro and in vivo can be assessed via benchtop magnetic relaxometers, common NMR instruments or magnetic resonance imaging scanners.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ncomms4384

    View details for Web of Science ID 000334297600001

    View details for PubMedID 24594970

  • Dawn of advanced molecular medicine: nanotechnological advancements in cancer imaging and therapy. Critical reviews in oncogenesis Kaittanis, C., Shaffer, T. M., Thorek, D. L., Grimm, J. 2014; 19 (3-4): 143-176


    Nanotechnology plays an increasingly important role not only in our everyday life (with all its benefits and dangers) but also in medicine. Nanoparticles are to date the most intriguing option to deliver high concentrations of agents specifically and directly to cancer cells; therefore, a wide variety of these nanomaterials has been developed and explored. These span the range from simple nanoagents to sophisticated smart devices for drug delivery or imaging. Nanomaterials usually provide a large surface area, allowing for decoration with a large amount of moieties on the surface for either additional functionalities or targeting. Besides using particles solely for imaging purposes, they can also carry as a payload a therapeutic agent. If both are combined within the same particle, a theranostic agent is created. The sophistication of highly developed nanotechnology targeting approaches provides a promising means for many clinical implementations and can provide improved applications for otherwise suboptimal formulations. In this review we will explore nanotechnology both for imaging and therapy to provide a general overview of the field and its impact on cancer imaging and therapy.

    View details for PubMedID 25271430