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.


Imaging and controlling cellular function with ultrasound.
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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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Shapiro Lab Holiday Party 2018

Thanks to all who joined to celebrate an amazing 2018 and welcome the new year! More photos.

Fifth Annual Shapiro Lab Beach Party

Shapiro Lab Beach Party #5! Oceanside, California. Thanks to all who came!

Engineering ultraparamagnetic cells

Congratulations to Pradeep, Sonjong, Hunter, Audrey, Vivek, Max, Jenny and Vasant on their new work showing that strong cellular paramagnetism is sufficient for magnetic manipulation and MRI contrast. Their genetic circuit makes bacteria “ultraparamagnetic” by oxidizing and chelating iron in a ferrogel.

Ramesh P, Hwang SJ, Davis HC, Lee-Gosselin A, Bharadwaj V, English MA, Sheng J, Iyer V, Shapiro MG*. Ultraparamagnetic cells formed through intracellular oxidation and chelation of paramagnetic iron. Angewandte Chemie 57, 12385-12389 (2018). article

Acoustically Targeted Chemogenetics (ATAC)

Congratulations to Jerzy, Brian, Audrey and Dina on developing a new technology to modulate specific parts of the brain non-invasively with a combination of spatial, genetic and temporal control using ultrasound, gene delivery and small molecule drugs – featured on the cover of Nature Biomedical Engineering.

Szablowski JO, Lue B, Lee-Gosselin A, Malounda D, Shapiro MG*. Acoustically targeted chemogenetics for the non-invasive control of neural circuits. Nature Biomedical Engineering 2, 474-484 (2018).
article | readcube | news and views | press | behind the paper

Auditory effects of ultrasonic neuromodulation

Two new articles in Neuron from Caltech (with Tomo Sato and Doris Tsao) and the University of Minnesota (led by Hongsun Guo and Hubert Lim) describe a major effect of focused ultrasound on neural circuits. Congratulations to both teams on this important step towards making focused ultrasound a mature, well-controlled tool for neuroscience.
Sato T*, Shapiro MG#*, Tsao DY#*. Ultrasonic neuromodulation causes widespread cortical activation via an indirect auditory mechanism. Neuron (2018). article | companion article

Acoustically modulated MRI

Congratulations to George, Arash, Jerzy, Audrey and colleagues on their work introducing the concept of acoustically modulated MRI contrast agents, which address one of major limitations of MRI by taking advantage of the special magnetic and acoustic properties of gas vesicles – featured on the cover of Nature Materials.

Lu GJ, Farhadi A, Szablowski JO, Lee Gosselin A, Barnes SR, Lakshmanan A, Bourdeau RW, Shapiro MG*. Acoustically modulated magnetic resonance imaging of gas-filled protein nanostructures. Nature Materials (2018).
article | readcube | news and views | press | behind the paper

Looking inside an MRI voxel

Congratulations to Hunter, Pradeep, Aadyot, Audrey and our collaborators at Harvard on a new study using NV diamond magnetometry to examine the microscale origins of MRI contrast.

Davis HC#, Ramesh P#, Bhatnagar A, Lee-Gosselin A, Barry JF, Glenn DR, Walsworth RL, Shapiro MG*. Mapping the microscale origins of MRI contrast with subcellular NV diamond magnetometry. Nature Communications 9, 131 (2018). article | press

Acoustic reporter genes

Congratulations to Ray, Audrey, Anu, Arash, Priya and Suchita on their work on acoustic reporter genes, featured on the cover of Nature!

Bourdeau RW, Lee-Gosselin A, Lakshmanan A, Farhadi A, Ravindra Kumar S, Nety SP, Shapiro MG*. Acoustic reporter genes for noninvasive imaging of microorganisms in mammalian hosts. Nature 553, 86–90 (2018).
article | readcube | news and views | press | behind the paper

Shapiro Lab Holiday Party 2017

Celebrating a great year! Photobooth

Artificial ATOMS for wireless device localization

ATOMS-CoverCongratulations to Manuel, Audrey, and our collaborator in Electrical Engineering Azita Emami on the publication of a new approach to localizing microscale integrated circuits in the body using the principles of nuclear magnetic resonance.

Monge M, Lee-Gosselin A, Shapiro MG*, Emami A*. Localization of microscale devices in vivo using addressable transmitters operated as magnetic spins. Nature Biomedical Engineering 1, 736-744 (2017).
article | readcube | news and views | press | behind the paper