Molecular Engineering Imaging and Control

We engineer biomolecules with unusual physical properties and use them to image and control biological function non-invasively, e.g. using magnetic fields and sound waves.

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  • Welcome to the Shapiro Lab at the California Institute of Technology.
  • Pasadena, California, USA.


Ultrasound imaging with genetically encoded gas nanostructures.
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New molecules and mechanisms for genetically encoded MRI contrast.
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Biophysics of neuromodulation with ultrasound and other forms of energy.
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Multiplexed chemical control of the nervous system.
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New class of reporter genes for diffusion-weighted MRI

Congratulations to Arnab, Di and Hunter for their work on aquaporins as a new class of sensitive, metal-free, non-toxic reporter genes for diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging, just posted on bioRxiv. We are also excited to join the digital revolution in rapid dissemination of scientific results, in the footsteps of George Church, Jim Collins, Pam Silver and other early adopters of bioRxiv. More to come!


Second Annual Shapiro Lab Beach Party

Beautiful day at the ocean! Corona Del Mar, California, August 1, 2015

Shapiro Lab Holiday Party

Thanks to everyone who joined us for a night of great cheer! Here’s to a year of happiness and breakthroughs!

Reporter gene for Hyperpolarized MRI published in Nature Chemistry


Our article on “Genetically encoded reporters for hyperpolarized xenon magnetic resonance imaging” has been published in Nature Chemistry. It describes how the the xenon-binding capabilities of gas vesicles allow them to be detected non-invasively at picomolar concentrations.

Link to the Article
Editor’s Choice in Science Translational Medicine


First annual Shapiro Lab beach party

Thanks to all the lab members, family and friends who joined us for our first annual beach party at Bosla Chica beach!



Ultrasound work published in Nature Nanotechnology


Our article on the use of microbe-derived gas vesicles as molecular imaging agents for ultrasound has been published.

Link to the Article

News and Views by Mark Borden

Ultrasound movie of injected gas vesicles

Congratulations to everyone involved in this study and our continuing work on genetically encoded and engineered imaging agents for ultrasound!

Lab Renovation Completed!

The Shapiro Lab has officially moved into our newly renovated space in 126 Spalding.
Shapiro Lab AC Martin  /   Photo by Tom Bonner

World Molecular Imaging Congress

The Shapiro Lab attended the World Molecular Imaging Congress in Savannah, GA. Photos: (Left) Dinner with Pradeep, Paula Deen, George and Mikhail. (Right) Mikhail delivering a Young Investigator Award talk at the closing ceremony.

Announcement: Boswell Fellowship

Caltech is recruiting for the James Boswell Postdoctoral Fellowship in Molecular Engineering and Magnetic Resonance Imaging – a prestigious endowed fellowship to be hosted by the Shapiro Lab and the Huntington Medical Research Institute. Details and application instructions can be found here.

Coming to Caltech!

It official! The Shapiro Lab will will open at California Institute of Technology later this year, joining the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. Our newly renovated molecular and cellular engineering laboratory will be located in Spalding hall, and we will use imaging facilities at the Beckman Institute. Looking forward to working with the students, faculty and staff of the world’s top university.