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.

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


Imaging and controlling cellular function with ultrasound.
Read More


New molecules and mechanisms for genetically encoded MRI contrast.
Read More


Biophysics of neuromodulation with ultrasound and other forms of energy.
Read More


Multiplexed chemical control of the nervous system.
Read More

Detailed Protocol on Gas Vesicle Production


Interested in making your own gas vesicles for ultrasound or MRI? An (excruciatingly) detailed protocol on GV production, purification, functionalization and imaging has just been published in Nature Protocols. Thanks to Anupama, George, Arash, Suchita, colleagues and collaborators on putting together this valuable resource.

Lakshmanan A#, Lu GJ#, Farhadi A#, Nety SP#, Kunth M, Lee-Gosselin A, Maresca D, Bourdeau RW, Yin M, Yan J, Witte C, Malounda D, Foster FS, Schröder L, Shapiro MG*. Preparation of biogenic gas vesicle nanostructures for use as contrast agents for ultrasound and MRI. Nature Protocols 12, 2050-2080 (2017). article | readcube


Fourth Annual Shapiro Lab Beach Party


Dana Point, CA, August 26, 2017. Thanks to all the lab members, collaborators and friends who joined us!

Nonlinear Imaging of Acoustic Biomolecules

Website-01Congratulations to David, Anu, Audrey, Johan, Yu-Li, Ray and our collaborator Dennis Kochmann on their article in Applied Physics Letters describing the development of nonlinear pulse sequences to maximize ultrasound contrast from gas vesicle protein nanostructures.

Article: Nonlinear ultrasound imaging of nanoscale acoustic biomolecules

See also a complementary article in Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology with collaborators at UofT detailing gas vesicles’ acoustic behavior.

New class of MRI reporter genes in Nature Communications

fig1a-illusCongratulations to Arnab, Di and Hunter on their article in Nature Communications describing the membrane water channel aquaporin as a new class of reporter genes for magnetic resonance imaging.

Article: Non-invasive imaging using reporter genes altering cellular water permeability
Press release: Visualizing Gene Expression with MRI

Thermal bioswitches for remote control of microbes in Nature Chemical Biology

ncb-cover-2016Congratulations to Dan, Mohamad, Brittany and Audrey on their article in Nature Chemical Biology describing the development of “bacterial thermostats” that allow microbial therapeutics to be controlled remotely using ultrasound, respond to fever, or know when they have exited their host.

Article: Tunable thermal bioswitches for in vivo control of microbial therapeutics.
Press release: Biologists Give Bacteria Thermostat Controls
Video: Scientists Engineer Therapeutic Bacteria to Listen to Us
Highlight: Nature Methods

Acoustic Protein Nanostructures on the Cover of ACS Nano


Congratulations to Anupama, Arash, Suchita, Audrey, Ray and David on their cover article in the September issue of ACS Nano! Their work describes how gas vesicles can be engineered at the level of their protein composition and sequence to exhibit new acoustic properties and molecular targeting.

Article: Molecular Engineering of Acoustic Protein Nanostructures
Press release: Designing ultrasound tools with lego-like proteins

Third Annual Shapiro Lab Beach Party


Hermosa Beach, California, July 16, 2016. Thanks to everyone who came!

Second Annual Shapiro Lab Beach Party

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

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!