2019 MWLC Lecture "Bioimaging, Diagnosis and Therapy by Conceptually New Fluorogens"

The first Ming Wai Lau Centre Lecture to be given in Sweden took place on 20 August 2019 at Biomedicum (D0320). The title of Prof Ben Zhong Tang's talk was "Bioimaging, Diagnosis and Therapy by Conceptually New Fluorogens".

The first MWLC Lecture in Sweden by Prof. Ben Zhong Tang.


Advanced biosensors are highly demanded for accurate biological detection and clinical diagnostics. Fluorescence (FL) is an essential signal for in situ visualization of bioanalytes at the molecular level and monitoring complex biological processes in real time. The red to near-infrared fluorescence could offer minimized autofluorescence interference in living systems. However, the performance of most traditional fluorophores is still limited by the photobleaching effect and moderate signal-to-noise ratio, and their applicability for in vivo imaging is restricted to a superficial region. Although inorganic nanoparticles such as quantum dots or upconverting nanoparticles possess bright fluorescence and good photostability, their heavy metal components would cause further toxicity concerns.

Unlike conventional organic fluorophores, luminogens with aggregation-induced emission (AIEgens) with propeller-shaped structures provide a superior choice for light-up fluorescence sensing. As isolated molecules, the rotor-containing AIEgens undergo low-frequency motions and dissipate exciton energy, leading to fast nonradiative decay of the excited states and weak emission. In the aggregated form, the radiative pathway is predominant for strong emission via the restriction of intramolecular rotation, vibration and motion. The AIEgen aggregates exhibit large absorptivity, robust luminosity, strong photobleaching resistance, no random blinking, and excellent biocompatibility. They have been widely applied for in vitro and in vivo biosensing and imaging, including specific biomolecular analysis (DNA, protein, enzyme, antigen, etc), micro-environment sensing (intracellular pH, membrane potential, viscosity, ROS, etc), real-time organelle or cellular imaging, highly sensitive pathogen detection, long-lasting drug delivery tracking and high-resolution biological process visualization (protein fibrillation, cell apoptosis, mitophagy, proliferation, etc).


Ben Zhong Tang is Stephen K. C. Cheong Professor of Science, Chair Professor of Chemistry, and Chair Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). His research interests include macromolecular chemistry, materials science and biomedical theranostics. Tang received B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from South China University of Technology and Kyoto University, respectively. He conducted postdoctoral research at University of Toronto. He joined HKUST as an assistant professor in 1994 and was promoted to chair professor in 2008. He was elected to the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) in 2009 and 2013, respectively. Tang has published >1,400 papers. His publications have been cited >83,000 times with an h-index of 134. He has been listed by Thomson Reuters as a Highly Cited Researcher in both areas of Chemistry and Materials Science. He received the State Natural Science Award (1st Class; 2017) from Chinese Government, Scientific and Technological Progress Award from the Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation (2017) and Senior Research Fellowship from the Croucher Foundation (2007). He is now serving as Editor-in-Chief of Materials Chemistry Frontiers (RSC & CCS).


Sandra Ceccatelli, Ben Zhong Tang, Christian Göritz and Gonçalo Castelo-Branco
Content reviewer:
Molly Yang