Zasadzinski Research Group

Welcome to Prof. Joseph A. Zasadzinski Research Group

Prof. Zasadzinski group's research deals primarily with experimental investigations of the relationships between structure, composition and function at the molecular scale in complex or self-assembling fluids using optical, electron, and scanning probe microscopies. Our group is one of the few in the world to utilize all major microscopy techniques. In general, our research has two parallel and interacting thrusts. The first thrust is the development and/or modification of microscopy techniques so that they can be applied to soft, fluid, or other novel systems such as biomembranes, liquid crystals, Langmuir-Blodgett films, etc. This often means designing our own microscopes or modifying commercial equipment to make it compatible with our requirements. The second thrust is to use the high resolution structural information obtained to explain the phase behavior and other macroscopic properties of technologically or scientifically interesting materials, especially those with biomedical or biotechnological interest.  We have two areas of current investigation.  The first is the relationship between composition, structure and function in human lung surfactants and  in monolayer and interfacial films for treatment of premature infants and adults with respiratory disease.  We have built new interfacial rheometers to measure the surface shear and dilatational moduli with simultaneous visualization to provide the first insights into monolayer dynamics and how dynamics stabilize or destabilize normal breathing.  Our second interest is synthesis and characterization of 10 - 50 nm surface plasmon resonant gold nanoshells that can be addressed by near infrared light to trigger chemical and physical changes in living cells.  We are working on new high throughput biomanufacturing to modify cells with functional proteins or siRNA delivered directly to the cell cytoplasm using our nanoshells.  Our goal is to create modified immune cells that can be used to treat various forms of cancer and other diseases. Current funding comes primarily from the Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the NIH, the Interfacial Science Division of the NSF, and the Center for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Minnesota.

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