Pinn Hall Rm. 4020
1340 Jefferson Park Ave
Charlottesville, VA 22908
Google Scholar Ai Lab


Our lab develops novel molecular probes to peer into cells and brains to understand their communications. We use a collection of innovative techniques, such as protein engineering, fluorescence and bioluminescence imaging, molecular and cell biology, and electrophysiology, to dissect signaling pathways involving redox-active molecules, neurotransmitters, and protein post-translational modifications (PTMs). Our immediate goal is to monitor biological signaling in real time with excellent spatial resolution and molecular precision in physiologically relevant environments. Our long-term goal is to apply these new probes to live cells and rodent models to understand communications relevant to toxicity of chemicals, cancer development and progression, cognition and behavior, and neurological disorders. Moreover, these basic research efforts are actively being translated to develop novel protein-based diagnostics and therapeutics for diseases (e.g., diabetes and cancer).

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Ph.D. University of Alberta, 2008

B.S. Tsinghua University, 2003

Postdoctoral Training, The Scripps Research Institute 2008-2011

Research Interests

Fluorescence and Bioluminescence Imaging
Genetic and Protein Engineering for Imaging, Diagnostics, and Therapeutics
Synthetic Biology and Chemical Biology

Selected Publications

Red-shifted luciferase–luciferin pairs for enhanced bioluminescence imaging, Nature Methods, 2017, 14: 971–974. H. Yeh, O. Karmach, A. Ji, D. Carter, M.M. Martins-Green, H. Ai
Monitoring thioredoxin redox with a genetically encoded red fluorescent biosensor, Nat. Chem. Biol., 2017, 13: 1045-1052. Y. Fan, M. Makar, M.X. Wang, H. Ai
Illuminating Brain Activities with Fluorescent Protein-Based Biosensors, Chemosensors, 2017, 5: 32; DOI:10.3390/chemosensors5040032. Z. Chen, T.M. Truong, H. Ai